`Bill to Create California Olive Oil Commission Clears Senate

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Bill to Create California Olive Oil Commission Clears Senate

Sep. 10, 2013
Olive Oil Times Staff

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Cal­i­for­nia State Sen­a­tor Lois Wolk

On a bipar­ti­san vote, the Sen­ate approved Sen­ate Bill 250, a mea­sure by Sen­a­tor Lois Wolk (D‑Davis) to estab­lish a state com­mis­sion to help coor­di­nate efforts by state olive grow­ers and oil man­u­fac­tur­ers to strengthen the com­pet­i­tive­ness of California’s olive oil indus­try. The bill now moves to Gov­er­nor Jerry Brown for his con­sid­er­a­tion.

Estab­lish­ing this com­mis­sion is a vital first step toward pro­tect­ing con­sumers and pro­vid­ing California’s olive oil indus­try a fair play­ing field where they can grow and thrive,” said Wolk, Chair of the Agri­cul­ture Sub­com­mit­tee on Olive Oil Pro­duc­tion and Emerg­ing Prod­ucts.

Sen­a­tor Wolk intro­duced the bill in the Sen­ate Agri­cul­tural Com­mit­tee on April 16, where it was unan­i­mously approved. California’s olive oil indus­try has been grow­ing expo­nen­tially over the past five years,” Wolk said at the time. The indus­try believes it is time to sup­port a coor­di­nated effort to pro­vide for olive oil research and stan­dards to pro­mote the sus­tain­abil­ity and suc­cess of this impor­tant agri­cul­tural prod­uct.”

There are cur­rently 16 active, indus­try-funded agri­cul­tural com­mis­sions in Cal­i­for­nia cre­ated to enhance their indus­tries’ com­pet­i­tive­ness through pro­mo­tion, adver­tis­ing, edu­ca­tion, mar­ket­ing research, sci­en­tific research, and the cre­ation and reg­u­la­tion of qual­ity stan­dards. SB 250 would cre­ate the Olive Oil Com­mis­sion of Cal­i­for­nia within the Depart­ment of Food and Agri­cul­ture to allow the indus­try to con­duct research and estab­lish prod­uct grades and stan­dards through the Sec­re­tary of Food and Agri­cul­ture.

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The mea­sure is part of Wolk’s ongo­ing effort to address chal­lenges fac­ing the state’s expand­ing olive oil indus­try, includ­ing com­peti­tors sell­ing fraud­u­lent and low-qual­ity olive oil. A study con­ducted by the UC Davis Olive Cen­ter found that 65 per­cent of imported extra-vir­gin olive oils bought off the shelves of Cal­i­for­nia super­mar­kets failed to meet inter­na­tional stan­dards for olive oil qual­ity — con­clud­ing that many of the imported olive oils tested were falsely labeled as extra vir­gin grade.

SB 250 has numer­ous sup­port­ers, includ­ing the Cal­i­for­nia League of Food Proces­sors and Cal­i­for­nia Olive Oil Coun­cil (COOC).

We com­mend the Leg­is­la­ture for its pas­sage of this impor­tant mea­sure and applaud Sen­a­tor Wolk’s vision and sup­port for the con­tin­ued growth of the olive oil indus­try in Cal­i­for­nia,” said Patri­cia Dar­ragh, the COOC’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor.

The Amer­i­can Olive Oil Pro­duc­ers Asso­ci­a­tion applauds Sen­a­tor Wolk and her col­leagues in Sacra­mento for hav­ing the fore­sight to pass SB 250 to estab­lish the Olive Oil Com­mis­sion of Cal­i­for­nia. We encour­age Gov­er­nor Brown to sign this bill into law for the peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia and all those who enjoy the health ben­e­fits and the delight­ful fresh taste of extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced there,” said Kim­berly Hould­ing with the Amer­i­can Olive Oil Pro­duc­ers Asso­ci­a­tion. The estab­lish­ment of this com­mis­sion will assure con­sumers that they can con­tinue to trust the excep­tional qual­ity of Cal­i­for­nia extra vir­gin olive oil.”

The pas­sage of SB 250 is an impor­tant and excit­ing mile­stone for the Cal­i­for­nia olive oil indus­try. The need for olive oil stan­dards and sup­port in impor­tant areas of the busi­ness includ­ing mar­ket­ing are crit­i­cal to the future of the indus­try in our state. I strongly encour­age the Gov­er­nor to sign this bill as a major step in lay­ing a foun­da­tion from which the olive oil busi­ness can con­tinue its rapid growth,” said Dick Neilsen, Gen­eral Man­ager of McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma.

As a small arti­san olive oil pro­ducer we wel­come the estab­lish­ment of the Olive Oil Com­mis­sion of Cal­i­for­nia. Their reg­u­la­tions, research, and mar­ket­ing will serve both small and large pro­duc­ers fos­ter­ing Cal­i­for­ni­a’s grow­ing recog­ni­tion as pro­duc­ers of world class olive oil,” said Lil­lian Dick­son with Regina Extra Vir­gin Olive Oil, grown and pro­duced in Napa.

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