SACRAMENTO – A local legislator is tired of seeing criminals bite the hands that feed the nation.
Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) introduced a bill last month to help law enforcement agencies combat agriculture theft. If passed, Senate Bill 224 would create a new category for grand theft of agricultural property. SB 224 would also provide that the fines collected for this crime be recirculated back to current agriculture and rural-based crime prevention programs.
“California feeds the nation,” said Senator Grove. “When thieves steal from farmers it means consumers end up paying more out of their pocket for goods and services. Over the last few years, our farmers have been punished by bad policies coming out of Sacramento. This bill is a necessary first step in showing our agriculturalists that Sacramento supports them in their efforts to meet the demand of a growing population.”
SB224 proposes a fine of up to $10,000 when the value of the stolen property exceeds $50,000. The fines would then be used to fund rural crime prevention programs in the Central Valley and Central Coast.
More than $1 million in equipment was stolen from Tulare County farms last year. Stolen equipment includes, but is not limited to, tractors and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). These types of thefts not only affect the pocketbooks of farmers and business owners, but also the production of consumer goods.
“I applaud Senator Grove for introducing this bill that will help our agricultural community in Tulare County. Agricultural crime is one of my top priorities here in Tulare County and it impacts all of us, whether we’re directly involved in agriculture or a consumer of it,” said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux. “These tougher penalties should make thieves think twice when they want to steal from our partners in agriculture.”