New ag theft law protects California farmers

By Kaitlin Washburn @Kwashy12

SACRAMENTO – Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) introduced Senate Bill 224 in partnership with Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux. The law will provide resources to law enforcement to help with efforts to curb agricultural crime. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on July 12.

“Farming is not a typical 9-to-5 job. California farmers work long hours, relying on Mother Nature’s schedule,” Grove said. “Agriculture is a unique industry, and unfortunately, farmers’ needs are often overlooked. One of those needs is common sense legislation which seeks to protect them from agricultural theft.”

The law includes a new category for grand theft agricultural property and requires that fines collected from agricultural theft are redistributed to current agricultural and rural-based crime prevention programs. Funds will be distributed to either the Central Valley Rural Crime Prevention Program or the Central Coast Rural Crime Prevention Program.

Under California law, stealing property valued over $950 is considered grand theft, punishable by either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor fine is $1,000 and a felony fine is $10,000.

“Tulare County is one of the top-producing agricultural counties in our state,” Grove said. “In 2018, the county recorded a staggering $2 million in agricultural theft. For this reason, I partnered with Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux to help our farmers.”

“Agriculture is the backbone of Tulare County,” Boudreaux said. “Our identity is wrapped up in the success of our farmers, ranchers, laborers and everyone else who is involved and impacted by Ag. When our partners in agriculture are victimized, we are all victimized.”

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