On a bipartisan vote Friday, the Senate approved a measure by Sen. 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, Senate Bill 250, now moves to the governor 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.
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.
The measure is part of Wolk’s ongoing effort to address challenges facing 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.