WORK WITH US
SB 490 – Establishes The Buy American Food Act Requiring K-12 Districts, California Community Colleges And The California State University Purchase Domestic Agriculture Food Products Unless A Nondomestic Product Is 25% Lower And Other Requirements Are Met
SB 490 is effective January 1, 2024; and remains in effect until January 1, 2029. The bill establishes the Buy American Food Act.
The Buy American Food Act applies to public institutions that receive federal meal reimbursement funding to provide prepared meals and solicit bids for the purchase of agricultural food products. This bill defines a “public institution” to mean any state, city, or county agency, a school, school district, county office of education, charter school, California Community Colleges, and California State University.
The bill requires a public institution that solicits bids for the purchase of an agricultural food product to include in their solicitation for bids and contracts that only the purchase of agricultural products grown, packed, or processed domestically is authorized. A public institution may, however, purchase a nondomestic product if any of the following applies:
- The bid or price of the nondomestic agriculture product is more than 25 percent lower than the bid or price of the domestic agricultural food product;
- The quality of the domestic agricultural food product is inferior to the quality of the agricultural food product grown, packed, or produced nondomestically; or
- The agricultural food product is not produced or manufactured domestically in sufficient and reasonably available quantities of satisfactory quality to meet the needs of the public institution.
The bill exempts local educational agencies (LEA) from annual federal meal reimbursement funding of less than $1,000,000 from these provisions. The bill requires the public institution to retain documentation relating to the purchase of agricultural food products for 3 years and to make that documentation available to the public upon request.
The bill further provides that its provisions neither limit nor expand California’s obligations under the Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organization. The provisions of this bill do not apply to the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or to agricultural food products purchased by or provided to a public institution through the United States Department of Agriculture.
The bill provides an exception to the above requirement for public institutions when a vendor substitutes an agricultural food product without notice or because a product is not available.
Lastly, the bill authorizes a local agency participating in a federal school lunch or school meal program to report to the State Department of Education any increases in the prices of agricultural food products that exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s prices and encourages the retention of documentation supporting the compliant. The State Department must annually post on its internet website the aggregate information on reports received from LEA regarding price increases.
(SB 490 adds and repeals Chapter 8, commencing with Section 58596.1, of Part 1 of Division 21 of the Food and Agricultural Code)