Republicans reclaim Senate ag committee
Under Democrat's control, committee attacked chemical use
By WES SANDER
SACRAMENTO -- After two years under Democratic control, the Senate agriculture committee has returned to Republican leadership.
Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, has been named chair of the Senate agriculture committee for the legislature's 2011-12 session.
A fourth-generation farmer, Berryhill represents an eastern slice of the San Joaquin Valley. He served as co-chair of the Assembly agriculture committee in the 2009-10 session.
He replaces former Sen. Dean Florez, a Democrat who reshaped the agriculture committee in the previous session. Traditionally left to Republican control as a bipartisan gesture, the committee was reworked in the 2009-10 session by Florez, who made it a platform for challenging chemical usage, pest-control measures and the existence of the Department of Food and Agriculture, among other topics.
Florez launched a campaign for lieutenant governor last year, but dropped out of the race early.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg also re-assigned Los Angeles-area Democrat Fran Pavley as chair of the Natural Resources and Water committee. Pavley wrote AB 32, the 2006 bill that mandated emissions reductions in the state.
AB 32 implementation has involved a cap-and-trade system whereby polluting industries could buy credits to help meet emission limits. Farmers say the program will hurt them.