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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

March 29, 2013


Ag Council Holds Successful 94th Annual Meeting

Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael)-photo courtesy of Holly Foster

Ag Council concluded a successful joint meeting with CoBank last week in Napa. Nearly 200 cooperative leaders and members met during Ag Council’s 94th Annual Meeting.

“Our organization is focused on cultivating change in Sacramento to create a better business environment for our membership,” Emily Rooney, Ag Council President, said. “Our annual meeting gives us a chance to continue that effort and update our members, both old and new, about the changes that have been happening with Ag Council and our political advocacy work.”

The annual meeting kicked-off last week with the 2013 Golf Tournament and PAC Fundraiser held at the Chardonnay Golf Club. After breakfast, over 50 golfers enjoyed the picturesque course set amidst 150 acres of Chardonnay vineyards and several lakes. Ag Council thanks our board member and Golf Chairman, Mike Kelley with Central California Almond Growers Association, for his hard work in helping to coordinate the tournament.

The annual dinner featured Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) as the keynote speaker. Levine spoke about the importance of agriculture to his district and the value of working toward common goals.

“It is in everyone’s best interest to work for a common-sense approach in Sacramento,” Levine said. “If I can use pesticides as an example, it is my belief we need to regulate for safety, but we don’t need to put farmers out of business at the same time. For legislators to make a law without input from industry and those impacted is like cutting your own hair—you may like it, but you don’t know why everyone else is laughing at you. I truly believe that together, we can usher in a new golden era for agriculture in California.”

During the dinner, outgoing Ag Council Chairman Jon Marthedal recognized Ed Nishio, Vice President of CoBank, who will be honored by the California State Fair as the 2013 Agriculturalist of the Year. Marthedal also recognized Lee Ruth, former President of Ag Council, who will be inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame by the National Cooperative Business Association this May at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The following day, Ag Council President Emily Rooney provided an executive update during the delegate body meeting. “If there is anything you can count on, it is the inevitability of change. Our goal, however, is to make the changes we are experiencing in California’s political landscape a positive prospect for California’s farmer-owned businesses,” Rooney said.

“We’ve worked to accomplish that goal by advocating on critical issues such as two proposed labor laws that offered no benefit to workers and were redundant to previous measures,” Rooney said. “We had a win with the defeat of Proposition 37 and continue to reach out to elected officials that have historically been in districts outside of agriculture’s sphere of influence. The new political climate in Sacramento means that we can’t depend on solely on traditional allies, and we have to reach out to a new generation of lawmakers to help them understand the significance of agriculture in California.”

Rooney thanked outgoing Ag Council Chairman Jon Marthedal for his two years of outstanding service to the organization. Marthedal, a third-generation farmer and also Chairman of Sun-Maid Growers, will serve on the 2013-2014 Executive Committee as Immediate Past Chair. His successor, Rich Hudgins, will serve as Chairman of Ag Council over the next two years. Hudgins is President and CEO of the California Canning Peach Association.

The general session, which was moderated by Jackson Gualco of The Gualco Group Inc., included presentations from David Garfield, managing director of AlixPartners; Randy Fiorini, a farmer and vice-chair of the Delta Stewardship Council; and, Kish Rajan, director of GO-Biz the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

CoBank’s Pacific West Customer Meeting concluded the joint meeting with Ag Council and featured speakers Marci Rossell, Ph.D., a former chief economist for CNBC; David Feherty, CBS golf commentator; Peter Sheahan, entrepreneur and best-selling author; and James Conway, 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Yates Honored with CA Cultivator Award

During Ag Council’s 94th Ag Council Annual Meeting last week in Napa, A.J. Yates was awarded the 2013 California Cultivator Award (formerly the Cooperative Leader Award).

Jon Marthedal and California Cultivator Award recipient, A.J. Yates

A farmer from Fresno County, Yates has served the agricultural community tirelessly in several top government appointments both at the state level with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and at the federal level as administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

Yates was appointed to CDFA by Governor Pete Wilson in 1991 and served eight years, first as Deputy Secretary and then as Under Secretary. In 2001, he was appointed administrator of AMS by President George W. Bush. In that role, he oversaw 50 programs designed to market U.S. agricultural products. Upon his return to California, Yates was again asked to serve at CDFA as Under Secretary by Governor Schwarzenegger. He concluded his career as Senior Policy Advisor in 2011.

Jon Marthedal, Ag Council Chairman and a third generation Fresno County farmer said, “I am honored to play a part in presenting this award to A.J. It is being presented on behalf of California agriculture, but also on behalf of those us from the San Joaquin Valley where agriculture is the heart of our identity. A.J. is an adopted son of the Valley who traveled to the ‘Big Leagues’ in his professional career and has been a great advocate for our industry.”

This special award is given to individuals who clearly have made significant contributions to California agriculture or have demonstrated leadership and personal commitment to the agricultural community. These contributions can be in areas such as proven leadership and dedication, innovation or environmental stewardship.

Thank You to our Sponsors

We appreciate the generous support of the following members and friends who helped make Ag Council’s 94th Annual Meeting a success.

Annual Meeting Sponsors

Platinum
Nationwide
Fruit Growers Supply Company/Sunkist Growers
Farm Credit Alliance

Gold
Blue Diamond Growers
Land O’Lakes
Sunsweet Growers

Silver
Allied Grape Growers
Moss Adams, LLP
Pacific Coast Producers

General
Butte County Rice Growers Association
DFA of California
The Gualco Group, Inc.
Valley Fig Growers

Golf Tournament and PAC Fundraiser Sponsors

Gold
Blue Diamond Growers
CALAMCO
Pacific Coast Producers
Raisin Bargaining Association

Silver
Bank of the West
Central California Almond Growers Association
DFA of California
Eadie & Payne, LLP
Edgewood Partners Insurance Company
Farm Credit Leasing
Griswold LaSalle Cobb Dowd & Gin LLP
KPMG, LLP
North Valley Ag Services
Wells Fargo Insurance Services

Majority Leader Atkins Tours Farms

Grower Dave Phippen and Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego)

As Ag Council continues its outreach to key members of the Legislature, Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) recently joined our members from the Almond Hullers and Processors Association (AHPA) and the California Canning Peach Association for farm tours. Majority Leader Atkins is in her third year as a legislator and is a newly appointed member of the Assembly Ag Committee.

Dave Phippen, an almond grower, packer, shipper and board member with AHPA, hosted the Majority Leader at his farm in Manteca. He talked about almond bloom and irrigation practices in the field, and he discussed sustainability relating to crop protection tools. In addition, Dave explained how solar power is being harnessed to power his processing facility.

Next, the Majority Leader met with Peter Martini who is a peach grower with the California Canning Peach Association. He discussed his family history and talked about the growing process. Peter also spoke of the challenges he faces as a cling peach grower such as labor, fuel costs and the impact of imports. The trees were in full bloom, so it was a beautiful time to visit. Majority Leader Atkins and her staff member had the opportunity to taste and enjoy canned peaches during the drive back to Sacramento.

Ag Council greatly appreciates the help of Kelly Covello with AHPA who assisted in the organization of the tour, as well as the assistance of Rich Hudgins with the California Canning Peach Association.

We are especially thankful to the Majority Leader for taking the time to learn more about our membership and for her interest in agriculture.

March 9, 2013


Sen. Hill Named New Chair

Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo)

This past week, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg nominated Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) as Chair of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. The recent, unexpected retirement of Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter) created a vacancy in the position of committee chair. Senator Hill is also Chair of the Senate Majority Caucus.

Regarding the nomination, Senator Steinberg said that Senator Hill, “is well-positioned to appreciate the complexities of this challenge and well-versed in the false dichotomy that pitches business against the environment. California has led, and will continue to lead the nation in smart, environmentally sustainable economic growth.”

The Committee, under Rubio, was set to lead the way on reforming the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CEQA requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and avoid or mitigate those impacts, if possible. Governor Jerry Brown has made several public statements supporting CEQA improvements while many environmental groups strongly oppose CEQA reform.

Special Election to Fill Valley Seat

Governor Jerry Brown announced on Friday that a special election to fill State Senator Rubio’s seat will take place on May 21, 2013. If a candidate does not receive a majority of the vote in May, the top-two vote recipients will compete in a July 23 election.

Speculation abounds about who will run for election in this southern San Joaquin Valley seat, which includes parts of Fresno, Kings, Kern and Tulare counties. Read more in a SacBee article HERE.

Tractor Rule Workshops

Workshops on the mobile ag regulation, known as the “tractor rule,” will be held by California Air Resources Board (ARB) next week.

The first workshop is in Fresno on March 14 at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District at 1:30 p.m. with a live video feed in both Modesto and Bakersfield (see link below for details). A second workshop is in Sacramento on March 15 at the California Air Resources Board-Coastal Hearing Room at 1:30 p.m. with a webcast of the workshop also taking place. For further workshop details and video feed information, click HERE.

As background, ARB staff announced recently that implementation of the first phase of the tractor rule will be limited to the San Joaquin Valley and its eight counties. In 2007, ARB committed to developing a plan for in-use ag equipment by 2013 with the goal to accelerate fleet turnover to equipment with engines meeting the cleanest new engine NOx standard. This commitment was made by the state in order to meet federal Clean Air Act requirements.

For more details about the tractor rule, click HERE for a link to the ARB website.

Water Legislation

Several bills to improve drinking water in disadvantaged communities are pending in the Legislature. Ag Council is keeping a close watch on the bills, some of which are a response to the recent report on nitrate in groundwater by the State Water Resources Control Board and others are recommendations from the Governor’s Drinking Water Stakeholder Group.

A hearing will be held next week on some of the measures-a few of which are detailed below. The list is not comprehensive of all pending water bills. Also, please keep in mind that state bills continually change throughout the legislative process. Given it is still early in the legislative year, outcomes will likely not be known for several months.

The following bills, among others, will be heard in the Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials on March 12:

AB 115-authored by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno)
This bill would authorize the Department of Public Health to fund projects where multiple water systems apply for funding as a single applicant in order to consolidate water systems or extend services to households with private wells. Among other purposes, the bill would allow funding of a project to benefit a disadvantaged community that is not the applying agency.

AB 118- authored by the Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, Chair is Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville)
AB 118 would require an applicant for funding from the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to demonstrate that it has the technical, managerial, and financial capacity to operate and maintain its water system for at least 20 years, as specified. Among other provisions, it also would authorize an applicant to receive up to the full cost of a project in the form of a loan.

AB 119-authored by the Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials, Chair is Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville)
AB 119 would require each manufacturer selling a water treatment device in California for which it makes a health or safety claim to submit specified information to the department to include on the Department of Public Health’s website. This bill would also mandate each manufacturer to pay a reasonable regulatory fee to pay for the cost of publishing information on the department’s website and for conducting enforcement actions.

AB 69-authored by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno)
This bill is a placeholder measure, called a “spot bill,” pertaining to nitrate in groundwater. More details will be forthcoming on this measure as a specific proposal is developed.

Water Bond Hearing

On March 12, Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) will conduct an informational hearing on the water bond. The hearing entitled, “What’s Changed Since the Legislature Passed the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Act of 2010?” will be held jointly by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water and the Select Committee on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

After being postponed twice, the water bond is set for the November 4, 2014 statewide ballot. Governor Brown has said he intends to give his “full attention” to water, and the Legislature expects to take-up water bond legislation this year in preparation for the 2014 ballot measure. Ag Council will continue to keep our members apprised of pertinent information regarding the water bond throughout the year.

 

March 2, 2013


Legislators Introduce New State Measures

More than 1,300 Assembly bills and just over 800 state Senate measures were filed in the Legislature before the bill introduction deadline of February 22.  Bills will not be acted upon until 30 days have passed from the date of introduction, with the exception being the Budget Bill.

Below are a few measures in areas of interest to our members, along with a brief summary derived from the text of the bills. Ag Council staff is either engaged in or watching these measures closely given the potential impact on our members. The list is not comprehensive.

State bills continually change throughout the legislative process and–given it is early in the legislative year–outcomes will likely not be known for several months.

Ag Measures

California Food, Farms and Jobs Act-AB 38
Author: Speaker Perez (D-Los Angeles)
AB 38 states it is the intent of the Legislature to enact a bill to improve state programs supporting local and regional farm and food system infrastructure, expanding access to healthy foods  and creating new job growth and economic development by boosting the number of direct and retail markets.

Market Milk Stabilization and Marketing Plan-AB 31
Author: Dr. Pan (D-Sacramento)
AB 31 would require a specific formula to establish the price for class 4b market milk that includes a dry whey value factor that is no less than 80 percent of the dry whey value used in federal milk marketing orders in establishing minimum producer prices. AB 31 also authorizes every plant that purchases class 4b market milk to deduct a dry whey credit.

Direct Marketing; Certified Farmers’ Markets-AB 996
Author: Assemblyman Dickinson (D-Sacramento)
AB 996 would make it unlawful for a person to purposefully make a statement, representation, or assertion about the sale or availability of ag products that is false, deceptive or misleading. Such a violation would be a misdemeanor.

Labor Bills

Confidentiality Privilege for Unions-AB 729
Author: Assemblyman Hernandez (D-West Covina)
This bill would provide union agents a privilege to refuse to disclose confidential information—regardless of whether the information was divulged during communication between the employee and union agent—if obtained in the course of his or her professional duties while acting in a representative capacity.

Read a SacBee article about the bill HERE.

Farm Labor Contractors-SB 168
Author: Senator Monning (D-Carmel)
SB 168 states that a successor to any farm labor contractor (FLC) that owed wages or penalties to a former employee of the predecessor FLC (whether the predecessor was a licensee or not) would be liable for those wages and penalties if the successors meet specific criteria.

Climate Change Legislation

Global Warming Offsets-AB 153
Author: Assemblywoman Bonilla (D-Concord)
The Air Resources Board is authorized under the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 to include the use of market-based compliance mechanisms. This measure would require the state board by January 1, 2014 to adopt a process for the review and consideration of new offset protocols, if the Board exercises its authority to use market-based compliance tools.

Prop 65 Bills

Prop 65 was approved by voter initiative in 1986 and requires warning signs or labels where there is risk of exposure to substances that cause cancer or reproductive harm.

Chemical Exposure-SB 650
Author: Senator Lieu (D-Torrance)
SB 650 is currently a placeholder bill, called a “spot bill,” regarding Prop 65 and more details will be forthcoming on this measure as a proposal is developed.

Chemical Listing-AB 227
Author: Assemblyman Gatto (D-Burbank)
AB 227 states that those in violation of the warning requirements of Prop 65 would have 14 days after receiving notice to demonstrate that the violation has been corrected.

Please do not hesitate to contact Ag Council at ph. 916.443.4887 if you have questions about any of the above bills. As the legislative process moves forward, we will keep you apprised of these and other bills.

Dry Conditions Persist

A snow survey conducted this week by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) reveals water content in snowpack is 66 percent of average for this time of year. This is the driest January and February on record since 1920, according to DWR.

DWR Director Mark Cowin said, “Near record dry weather combined with pumping restrictions to protect Delta smelt are making this a gloomy water supply year. This scenario is exactly why we need an alternative water conveyance system as proposed in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to both protect fish species and give California a reliable water supply.”

The State Water Project’s main storage reservoir, Lake Oroville, is at 80 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity. Shasta Lake, the Central Valley Project’s major reservoir, is at 79 percent of its 4.5 million acre-foot capacity.

Click HERE to read the full statement by DWR.