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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

June 22, 2012


State Democrats Strike Budget Deal

Legislative Democrats reached a deal this week with Governor Jerry Brown on deeper cuts to state and welfare programs to help close the projected $15.7 billion budget deficit. The Legislature approved a $92 billion state budget last week, but Governor Brown demanded more reductions before he would commit to signing the budget, particularly in the area of welfare reform.

The Legislature will vote on the new budget deal and several companion measures next week, just before the next fiscal year begins on July 1. Given the Democrat majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly, the budget has enough votes to pass without any Republican votes.

Importantly, the deal relies upon passage of Governor Brown’s tax measure on the November ballot to close the state budget deficit.

As highlighted in a previous Ag Council newsletter, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is being reduced by an additional $2.5 million this budget cycle, which is in addition to the $63 million in General Fund budget reductions that have already been made to the CDFA budget in the current and previous budget cycles.

Ag Council continues to be an active participant in the stakeholder consortium created by CDFA Secretary Karen Ross to provide advice regarding budget reductions. The ag community is focused on preserving the core operations of CDFA that are crucial to agriculture, such as protecting against plant and animal pests and diseases. Ag Council members are encouraged to contact our office at ph. 916.443.4887 if you would like specific details about the latest budget reductions at CDFA.

 

Cap and Trade Forum in Fresno

Ag Council is a sponsor of an upcoming Cap and Trade Forum being held by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) on June 29, 2012 at 2 p.m. in Fresno. The Forum is being held at Fresno City College in the Old Administration Building, Room 251. The event is open to the public, and Ag Council encourages members to attend.

Ag Council members and other stakeholders will be formally speaking at the Forum about the projected impacts of the state cap and trade program on their businesses.

The cap and trade regulatory system is being implemented by the California Air Resources Board to carry out a landmark climate change law, AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. AB 32 was approved by the state Legislature and signed into law by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. The law mandates that California reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Click HERE for the flyer about the Cap and Trade Forum on June 29.

Ag Council remains actively engaged on climate change issues at the state level. Click HERE for a video of Ag Council President, Emily Rooney, speaking before the Air Resources Board on May 24, 2012.

 

U.S. Senate Approves Farm Bill

On Thursday this week, the U.S. Senate approved the Farm Bill, which is a legislative package establishing national policies on agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry. The vote in the Senate was 64-35.

The Senate bill lowers federal spending by $23 billion over 10 years when compared to policies under the current Farm Bill by ending direct payments and streamlining other programs.

The House of Representatives is expected to consider its version of the Farm Bill in the House Committee on Agriculture in mid-July.

You can review a summary of the State Senate-passed Farm Bill on the Senate Committee for Agriculture’s website HERE.

 

Fertilizer Advisory Board Vacancies

Three Fertilizer Inspection Advisory Board vacancies were recently announced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The Board advises CDFA’s Fertilizing Materials Inspection Program whose purpose is to ensure consumers receive fertilizing materials that are safe, effective, and meet the quality guaranteed by the manufacturer.

Those interested in a Board appointment must send a resume to the California Department of Food Agriculture – Feed, Fertilizer, and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, Attn: Maria Hicks or via email at: maria.hicks@cdfa.ca.gov. The deadline to apply is August 1, 2012.

Click HERE to read the full CDFA announcement regarding the Board vacancies.

 

Farm Management & Ag Consulting Seminars

The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, California Chapter, is holding Farm Management and Agricultural Consulting Seminars on June 28 and 29, 2012 in Clovis, CA.

The seminars are training sessions for individuals seeking to enhance their professional skills in areas such as project management, negotiating, budgeting and business contracts.

The seminars will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn located at 520 West Shaw Avenue in Clovis, CA 93612. Click HERE for details about the seminar fees and who should attend. To register online, click HERE.

June 8, 2012


Members Visit Policymakers

More than 20 Ag Council members made their way to the state capitol this past week to visit with legislators and their staff about important issues impacting farmer-owned businesses in California.

A group of Legislative Day attendees at the Capitol

“In an election year, our voices need to be heard more than ever,” said Emily Rooney, president of Ag Council. “Our membership represents a diverse array of agricultural enterprises, but they are all in the business of producing food. California’s political climate can be challenging and that’s why it is so important to visit face-to-face with elected officials and other members of the state government to help them understand how their decisions impact California’s number one industry”.

Ag Council members met with elected officials and their staff members in the afternoon to discuss current and pending legislation related to water, land use and labor.

“We are once again at a critical time in the state budget negotiations,” said Bob Shipley president of Squab Producers of California and an Ag Council board member. “In the Governor’s May budget revision, the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA) is facing $2.5 million in further budget reductions, which is in addition to the $63 million reduction that was made in the previous two budget cycles.”

“Ag Council and the ag community participated in an effective stakeholder process led by Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross to identify cost savings in the department. Now, CDFA and our industry cannot absorb any more cuts without negatively impacting food production, inspection and safety in California. Legislative Day gave us the opportunity to communicate this message at a crucial time since the June 15 constitutional deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget is quickly approaching,” Shipley said.

 

State Officials Brief Members

Ag Council members had a chance to discuss key issues such as budget, water, and health care with the state leaders, in addition to learning more about the state political and legislative process.

Ag Council appreciates our Legislative Day speakers and thanks all of them for spending time with our members.

 

Ag Council Reception

Legislative Day concluded with a reception at the Citizen Hotel where legislators, state officials, and their staff had an opportunity to visit with Ag Council members. CDFA Secretary Karen Ross was in attendance, as well as other administration and regulatory officials.

A big thanks goes out to all of Ag Council’s members, allied members and guests who attended Legislative Day events this week.

 

In Case You Missed It….

Ag Council President, Emily Rooney, recently spoke on a panel before the California Air Resources Board (ARB) regarding how the state can best utilize revenues raised through the cap and trade auction market set to begin this November.

Click HERE to watch the video of Rooney speaking before ARB.

 

June 2, 2012


Fight Against Labor Bill Continues

This week, the state Assembly passed a burdensome and unnecessary measure relating to heat illness on farms, despite significant opposition for the ag community. The bill, AB 2346, is supported by the United Farm Workers. The measure’s author is Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D-Torrance).

Ag Council and others opposed AB 2346 because it singles out agriculture and would implement civil and criminal liability provisions relating to heat illness on farms that are not necessary given that the state already has a well-structured regulation in place to protect farmworkers from heat illness.

The bill was developed without consultation with the agricultural community and relies upon data that does not comport with state statistics on heat illness.

The existing heat illness regulation, developed by Cal/OSHA, is supported by agriculture, and the agricultural community has actively engaged in outreach to educate and train farmers and farm labor contractors on how to prevent heat illness in farmworkers.

The Assembly unfortunately approved the bill by a vote of 41-28 on Thursday, AB 2346 will next be considered in the state Senate where Ag Council will continue to oppose the bill.

 

Carbon Market Legislation

The Assembly approved a bill this week that outlines how the state will spend carbon market revenues raised in the quarterly auctions under the cap and trade regulation. Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) authored the bill, AB 1532.

The bill establishes the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account within the Air Pollution Control Fund at the Air Resources Board (ARB) and includes agriculture as one of the areas where auction investments can be made. AB 1532 also tasks the ARB with the responsibility of creating an investment plan for the auction revenues every three years.

Ag Council supports efforts, such as AB 1532, that provide opportunities for the state to make investments in agriculture in order to help our members meet the regulatory requirements of the cap and trade program. Investing a portion of the revenue in our agricultural community helps sustain and grow jobs in addition to making the latest emissions reduction technologies accessible and more economically feasible for our members.

As background, the cap and trade system is the regulatory mechanism created by ARB to implement the Global Warming Solutions Act signed into law in 2006. The law requires greenhouse gas emissions in California to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020.

AB 1532 now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

 

Pay Cut for State Legislators

This week, the California Citizens Compensation Commission voted to reduce salaries for members of the Legislature and statewide officials by 5 percent. The vote follows Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal to cut pay to many state workers by the same amount.

The 5-1 vote lowers pay to California legislators from $95,290 to $90,525. The Governor will have his salary reduced to about $165,288, down from $173,987 as a result of the Commission’s decision.

California state legislators are the highest paid in the nation, and they also receive a per diem estimated at about $30,000 annually to cover living expenses. They do not, however, receive a pension.

The pay cut takes effect December 3, 2012 and will save the state about $657,000 annually.

 

In Memoriam

Ag Council extends our sympathies to family and friends of William McFarlane who passed away on May 15, 2012 at the age of 86. He was an agricultural and community leader in the San Joaquin Valley who farmed raisins, winegrapes, cotton, grain, plums, vegetable and flower seeds, almonds, citrus, and rice.

Among his many accomplishments, Bill was very active in several cooperative farming organizations. Bill served as Ag Council’s Chairman from 1971-1973, and he was named Co-op Farmer of the Year in 1994. In addition, he served in various leadership positions with Ag Council members such as Central California Almond Growers, Blue Diamond Growers and Sun-Maid Growers, and others.

He is survived by his wife, Dorcas McFarlane, five children, 14 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Services were held in Clovis, California on May 25, 2012. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to:

McFarlane-Coffman Agricultural Center
c/o Timberwolves Foundation
2940 Leonard Avenue
Clovis, CA 93619

Clovis Community Medical Center
2755 Herndon Avenue
Clovis, CA 93611

or

Clovis-Big Dry Creek Historical Society
401 Pollasky Avenue
Clovis, CA 93612

Condolences may be offered by clicking HERE.

 

Nominees Sought for Conservation Award

The nomination process is open for the 2012 California Leopold Conservation Award. The Award recognizes exceptional stewards of the land and is presented by the Sand County Foundation in partnership with Sustainable Conservation and the California Farm Bureau Federation.

The award honors the commitment of private landowners to responsibile environmental stewardship and land management. It acknowledges that many ranchers, farmers and other private landowners are on the front lines of conservation and should be recognized for protecting the environment.

Finalists are selected, in part, based on their commitment to responsible and sustainable land management, the overall health of their land, implementation of innovative practices and dedication to community outreach and leadership.

The grand prize is $10,000 and runner-up prizes of $1,000 will also be presented. The deadline for nomination is July 15. For more information and a nomination form, click HERE or contact Sustainable Conservation at ph. (415) 977-0380.