In 1965, The Mamas & the Papas sang the words, “I’d be safe and warm/If I was in L.A.,” as part of their hit song “California Dreamin’.”
Decades later, if the dreams of California leaders come true, millions will be hungry and hot – or cold – as a result of their policy schemes.
It seems nonsensical that state leaders from California, nearly 2,000 miles away, are able to impact the decisions of farmers and working families in Missouri, but it is happening.
This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld California’s Proposition 12, passed in 2018. This law places additional animal housing requirements on hog farmers nationwide – requirements not mandated or even debated by Congress. The result will be higher costs at the grocery store for consumers and higher production costs for farmers.
Then, in May, the California general assembly passed legislation to ban five chemicals that are commonly found in sweets and processed food, once again overstepping the requirements put forth by the Food and Drug Administration.
What’s more, California seeks to lead the nation in mandating electric vehicles (EVs), adopting its Advanced Clean Cars II rule last year, which forces 100 percent of new cars and light trucks sold in California to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Earlier this year, California doubled down on this policy, prohibiting diesel-powered heavy trucks and buses from being sold in the state, starting in 2036. They’ve also banned sales of gas-powered small engines. With an electric grid already strained, the implications of an “all EV” policy will be costly for consumers.
These policies matter because California is a big market and, whether we like it or not, impact decisions made in corporate boardrooms. Food and auto manufacturers and others have to weigh the cost of either making products specifically for California or letting California dictate standards for everyone else.
We have seen this playbook before when Vermont enacted a labeling law for products containing ingredients from genetically modified crops. Food manufacturers, farmers and many others sounded the alarm about the marketplace disruption that was destined to happen, and Congress responded with a thoughtful nationwide solution.
We are at a critical juncture. I don’t share the dreams of the California legislature, nor do most of my neighbors. Their misguided policy schemes don’t fit or represent our Midwest values and, frankly, need to stay on the West Coast.
Garrett Hawkins is a farmer from Appleton City and serves as the President of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest and most effective farm organization with a presence in every county throughout the state.