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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

January 31, 2014


State Water Project Allocation Plunges to Zero

In an effort to protect existing water supplies, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced the most grim water supply outlook in state history–a zero percent water allocation for State Water Project (SWP) contractors.   This means that SWP customers, including agricultural users, will receive no water deliveries in 2014 if the dry conditions continue.  A minimal amount of carryover water, which is stored by local agencies and transferred from willing sellers to buyers in critically depleted areas, will be delivered according to DWR.

In its announcement, DWR said, “Everyone-farmers, fish and people in our cities and towns will get less water.”

DWR Director, Mark Cowin said, “The harsh weather leaves us little choice.  If we are to have any hope of coping with continued dry weather and balancing multiple needs, we must act now to preserve what water remains in our reservoirs.”

Storms later in the winter may provide some reservoir storage and could provide a small increase in water deliveries, but California will remain in a drought due to the critically dry months of December and January, as well as two previous years of drought.   For DWR’s announcement, click HERE.

Cannella & Vidak Offer Water Bond Bill

Senator Andy Vidak (left) and Senator Anthony Cannella (right)-photo by Rich Pedroncelli and published by AP.

Senator Andy Vidak (left) and Senator Anthony Cannella (right)-photo by Rich Pedroncelli and published by AP.

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) and Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) introduced SB 927 this week, which seeks to replace the existing water bond scheduled for the November 2014 ballot.

SB 927 proposes a $9.2 billion bond, reducing the total amount of the existing $11.1 billion water bond previously negotiated back in 2009. SB 927 is one of several measures now pending in the Legislature to revise the current water bond set for the November 2014 ballot.

Storage Component

At $3 billion, the water storage component in SB 927 is more significant than most other measures seeking to revise the water bond. Ag Council is pleased to see this emphasis on boosting water yield through storage, which is critical given the ongoing drought crisis and the need to better plan for the future. There is also $1 billion for clean drinking water and $2.5 billion for the protection of the Delta water supply in the measure.

At a press conference announcing SB 927, Cannella said, “During our driest year on record, California must invest in increasing our water supply. It was four years ago when we faced a similar situation and, if we do not act this year, our problems will grow.”

Vidak said, “It’s time for leadership, not delay. It’s time Sacramento made water storage and access to clean drinking water a state priority.”

Other Bills

Other water bond legislation pending in the Legislature includes a bill authored by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and another measure by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis). Rendon’s bill, AB 1331, would place a $6.5 billion water bond on the November ballot and Wolk’s measure, SB 848, would move a $6.47 billion water bond to the ballot.

An area of consensus among many state officials is the view that the existing $11.1 billion water bond set for the November 2014 is too expensive and must be trimmed down. The Legislature must pass new legislation in order to remove the current $11.1 billion bond from the ballot and replace it with a new one.

Next steps

With the various water bond proposals under consideration, the Legislature continues to conduct water bond hearings to garner public input prior to finalizing and approving legislation. Governor Brown’s signature is required before a revised water bond can be placed on the ballot this November.

State Releases Final Water Action Plan

Photo of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge by Charles Guest with the Los Banos Enterprise.

Photo of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge by Charles Guest with the Los Banos Enterprise.

The final State Water Action Plan was recently released with the purpose of setting goals for California to achieve over the next five years to boost water supply reliability, restore ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure. Changes were made to the final document to reflect California’s critical drought conditions.

The plan is being coordinated by the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Governor Jerry Brown directed the three state agencies to work together to develop a clear course for short and long term actions that can be undertaken by the state. Some of the key actions in the plan include: better regional self-reliance, expand storage capacity, improve groundwater management, provide safe water for communities, manage and prepare for dry conditions, increase flood protection, improve operational and regulatory efficiency, and achieve the co-equal goals for the Delta, among other actions.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said, “Our severe dry conditions are alarming for California’s agricultural industry. In the near term, we must do all we can to keep our fields productive. In the long term, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the investments that will allow us to stay productive in the fact of a changing climate.”

Click HERE to read the final plan.

Water Board Appointments

The State Senate recently confirmed three individuals who were appointed by the governor to serve on the State Water Resources Control Board.

Dorene D’Adamo was confirmed by the Senate to the State Water Resources Control Board, where she has served since last year. Some Ag Council members know D’Adamo from her previous work as a policy advisor for various members of Congress in the San Joaquin Valley and as a former member of the California Air Resources Board. She is a resident of Turlock.

Ag Council spoke in support of D’Adamo’s appointment during the committee process, and we value her agricultural expertise at the Board as we work to address the complex water issues facing our members.

Tam Doduc was also recently confirmed by the Senate to the State Water Resources Control Board. She has served on the Board since 2005. Ag Council has worked with Doduc on her efforts to reduce the cost of regulatory compliance on our members and others. We appreciate her work in this arena, and Ag Council expressed support her reappointment to the Board.

Finally, the Senate this month confirmed Francis Spivy-Weber to the State Water Resources Control Board. Spivey-Weber is the only member of the Board from Southern California. Ag Council also supported her appointment.

The five-member board is tasked with the protection of water quality and supply in California including supplies for ag, public trust and urban purposes.

Approval Ratings Grow for Governor and Legislature

Photo of Governor Brown by Richie Duchon

Photo of Governor Brown by Richie Duchon

Sixty percent of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Governor Jerry Brown’s job performance, up from 49 percent in December, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll.

The survey also reveals that Brown’s new 2014-2015 budget plan is receiving strong support from 90 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Independents and 66 percent of Republicans.

The Legislature’s overall rating among adults surveyed is 42 percent and 33 percent among likely voters. This is an improvement from May 2012 when the rating among adults was a mere 25 percent. When asked about their own state legislators, 45 percent of likely voters approve of the job performance by their state elected officials.

Regarding whether state leaders can work together, 51 percent of likely voters are optimistic that collaboration take place on policy issues according to the PPIC poll.

Click HERE to read more results from the PPIC survey that include opinions about the budget, education, health care and other issues.

Ag Council Annual Mtg. Approaching Fast

If you haven’t already registered, Ag Council members are encouraged to register online for our 95th Annual Meeting to be held March 2-4, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa. Click HERE for the registration website.

Ag Council’s General Session speakers include Dan Schnur who is Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California (USC), as well as Director of the USC Dornsife/LA Times Poll. He is also past Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

In addition, Mike Kirkpatrick with Nationwide Insurance will discuss farm transition planning in a presentation entitled, “Land as Your Legacy.” Dr. Patrick Lattore is a leadership consultant who will speak about building a constructive and healthy business culture. Click HERE to view the full meeting agenda.

The Annual Meeting is held in conjunction with CoBank’s Pacific West Customer Meeting.

Please contact Rebecca Osumi at ph. 916.443.4887 or email rebecca@agcouncil.org with any questions about the Annual Meeting.

Annual Mtg. Sponsorship Opportunities

Ag Council is seeking 2014 annual meeting sponsors. Our sponsors play a major role in helping us deliver the highest quality meeting possible for attendees.

Ag Council is also seeking sponsors for our Golf Tournament and PAC Fundraiser event to be held during the annual meeting on March 2, 2014 at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine at 9 a.m.

Click HERE for further details about annual meeting and golf tournament sponsorships.

Sponsors are acknowledged in our printed program at the meeting and in signage at the event. Rebecca Osumi is available to answer any questions. Feel free to contact her at ph. 916.443.4887 or at rebecca@agcouncil.org.

January 24, 2014


Atkins to become Assembly Speaker

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) visited Peter Martini's peach farm during a tour last year with Ag Council members.  He is a farmer with the California Canning Peach Association.

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) visited Peter Martini’s peach farm during a tour last year with Ag Council members. He is a farmer with the California Canning Peach Association.

Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is on track to become the next Speaker of the California State Assembly after being unanimously selected to the post this week by the Assembly Democratic caucus.

A formal vote among all Assembly members is expected to occur in the spring. Afterward, the Assembly will set a transition date where Assemblywoman Atkins will take over from current Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles).

Upon being chosen by her Democratic colleagues, Atkins said, “I am humbled, grateful, and ready to get to work. From the drought we are experiencing to ensuring a healthy business climate and a world class educational system, California is facing important issues in the near future.”

The Assemblywoman is interested in learning more about agriculture and took time to meet with our members last year by visiting a peach farm and connecting with an almond grower, packer and shipper to learn more about the challenges they face. You can read more about those visits HERE (scroll down to “Majority Leader Atkins Tours Ag Council Member Farms”).

Presently, Atkins is the Majority Leader of the Democratic caucus in the Assembly, and with 55 of the 80 Assembly seats, Democrats control a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly.

Gov. Brown Delivers State of the State Speech

Gov. Brown delivers his State of the State speech on Jan. 22, 2014 (photo courtesy of www.gov.ca.gov)

Gov. Brown delivers his State of the State speech on Jan. 22, 2014 (photo courtesy of www.gov.ca.gov)

Governor Jerry Brown touted successes and discussed ongoing challenges in his annual State of the State address this week before the Legislature.

The governor cited optimistic numbers such as a million new jobs in the state since 2010 and a budget surplus. However, he also discussed the growing long term pension liabilities in the state, with over $100 billion owed to state workers, and the uncertain costs of the Affordable Care Act.

Given the fluctuations in state revenues, the governor issued caution stating, “We can’t go back to business as usual. Boom and bust is our lot and we must follow the ancient advice, recounted in the Book of Genesis, that Joseph gave to the Pharaoh: Put away your surplus during the years of great plenty so you will be ready for the lean years which are sure to follow.”

Important to agriculture, Governor Brown spoke about the continuing drought. He said, “I have convened an Interagency Drought Task Force and declared a State of Emergency. We need everyone in every part of the state to conserve water. We need regulators to rebalance water rules and enable voluntary transfers of water and we must prepare for forest fires. As the State Water Action Plan lays out, water recycling, expanded storage and serious groundwater management must all be part of the mix. So too must be investments in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities. We also need wetlands and watershed restoration and further progress on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.”

The governor also discussed other policy issues including the budget, climate change, education, health care and innovation during his remarks.

To read the entire State of the State speech, click HERE.

Join Us for Breakfast at the World Ag Expo

Ag Council members and friends are invited to attend our annual breakfast at the World Ag Expo in Tulare on February 12, 2014 at 9 a.m. This year, the event features keynote speaker, Dan Richard, Chair of the High Speed Rail Authority. The breakfast will be held in the Heritage Complex conference room on the Expo showgrounds.

Given that the complex issues surrounding the high speed rail project are of strong interest to many of Ag Council’s members, we are holding this event to provide a forum for dialogue with Dan Richard.

Beginning back in 2012, Ag Council opposed funding going to high speed rail from cap and trade funds, which continues to be an aspect of Governor Brown’s budget. Ag Council remains concerned about the cost, loss of farmland and other issues relating to the project.  Click HERE to read an op-ed written in 2012 by Ag Council President Emily Rooney further detailing these concerns that remain relevant today.

There is no cost to attend the February 12 breakfast. However, RSVPs are required to Rebecca Osumi at ph. 916.443.4887 or rebecca@agcouncil.org. Please contact Rebecca with any questions.

In Case You Missed It

Prop 65

Last week’s newsletter covered the signing of an agreement between state agencies on Proposition 65, which is an issue of critical importance that Ag Council is engaged in on behalf of our members. Specifically, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “on cooperation and communication in the implementation of Proposition 65 with respect to exposure to Proposition 65 listed chemicals in food or food additives.” Click HERE to read more about the agreement and scroll down to “MOU on Prop 65 Signed.”

Drought

Upon Governor Brown issuing a Drought State of Emergency last week, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, created a website to assist farmers impacted by drought.  It provides up-to-date information about state and federal drought programs. The website is available HERE.

Governor’s Budget Plan

In case you missed it, a brief overview of the key ag-related elements in Governor Brown’s proposed 2014-2015 budget are detailed in last week’s newsletter. Click HERE for the overview and scroll down to “Gov. Brown Announces Budget.”

January 17, 2014


Gov. Brown Declares Drought Emergency

With snowpack in California at 20 percent of normal for this time of year, an official drought State of Emergency was declared by Governor Jerry Brown this morning. The declaration allows for greater cooperation among government agencies and enables the state to adjust current regulations to reflect the extreme drought conditions.

“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Governor Brown said.

He also said, “I’ve declared this emergency, and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.” He announced that a public awareness campaign website has been launched at: www.saveourh2o.org.

The governor’s proclamation directs state officials to assist farmers and farming communities, in particular, who are affected by the drought. In addition, the proclamation announces that the California Department of Food and Agriculture is developing a drought resources website with drought updates and details about federal and state drought-related programs.  The website can be accessed HERE.

Click HERE to read Governor Brown’s full statement, as well as the drought proclamation.

World Ag Expo Breakfast on Feb. 12

Dan Richard, Chair of the High Speed Rail Authority, is the keynote speaker at the World Ag Expo breakfast on Feb. 12.

Dan Richard, Chair of the High Speed Rail Authority

Ag Council members and friends are invited to attend our annual breakfast at the World Ag Expo in Tulare on February 12, 2014 at 9 a.m. featuring keynote speaker, Dan Richard, Chair of the High Speed Rail Authority. The event will be held in the Heritage Complex conference room on the Expo showgrounds.

Given that the complex issues surrounding the high speed rail project are of strong interest to many of Ag Council’s members, we are holding this event to provide a forum for dialogue with Dan Richard.

There is no cost to attend. However, RSVPs are required to Rebecca Osumi at ph. 916.443.4887 or rebecca@agcouncil.org. Please contact Rebecca with any questions.

 

 

 

MOU on Prop 65 Signed

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “on cooperation and communication in the implementation of Proposition 65 with respect to exposure to Proposition 65 listed chemicals in food or food additives.”

Ag Council has worked with both agencies on Proposition 65 issues critical to our members and is pleased the MOU is now final, which will help facilitate continued dialogue on Proposition 65 chemicals important to our members.

The MOU ensures that OEHAA and CDFA will “share information and collaborate as needed on both candidate chemicals and chemicals that are already listed under Proposition 65 found in soil, food products, agricultural pesticides and fertilizers.”

An example of Ag Council’s past work with OEHAA and CDFA on Proposition 65 is sulfur dioxide as used in dried fruit. Ag Council and others worked to provide scientific data to OEHHA that led the agency to conclude that consumption by the average consumer of dried fruit treated with “sulfur dioxide will not result in exposure to sulfur dioxide exceeding the proposed Maximum Allowable Dose Level. Therefore, a warning is not required under Proposition 65 at this time for exposure to sulfur dioxide from consumption of dried fruit.”

As background, Proposition 65 was enacted by voters as a ballot initiative in November 1986 and was intended to protect Californians and the state’s drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause harm and to inform citizens via labeling or signage about exposure to such chemicals. Proposition 65 has led to unintended consequences for California agriculture, including some Ag Council members, because healthy California-grown foods can be negatively impacted by Proposition 65 listings and labels.

Gov. Brown Announces Budget

Governor Jerry Brown recently released his $107 billion proposed California budget for 2014-2015 featuring a $1.6 billion deposit into a Rainy Day Reserve, billions to K-12 schools and public colleges and universities and $11 billion to pay down the “Wall of Debt,” which is money that was not provided during the state budget crisis and is owed to Medi-Cal, schools, and special state funds.

The Legislature is now tasked with developing their 2014-2015 budget while taking into consideration the governor’s budget proposal. The Legislature must approve a budget by June 15 under the California Constitution.

The governor’s proposed plan includes the following budget allocations (this is not a comprehensive overview).

Agriculture

For the first time in several years, the governor’s budget does not include cuts to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Among the funding for agriculture, the 2014-2015 proposed budget contains $20 million in funds from cap and trade revenues going to CDFA for the following efforts: $12 million for dairy digesters, $5 million for the Fertilizer Research and Education Program and $3 million for the development of renewable fuels.

The Sustainable Communities program receives $100 million in the budget from cap and trade funds for competitive grants for efforts such as farmland preservation.

Water

The governor also proposes $618 million in his budget to support the Water Action Plan, which is an effort developed by CDFA and other state agencies to achieve more reliable water supplies, restoration of species and habitat, and a more resilient and sustainable water management system over the next five years. Specific measures in the plan include adding storage capacity, encouraging conservation and water recycling for potable use.

Relating to groundwater, over $11 million is in the governor’s budget plan for groundwater management and drinking water improvements in disadvantaged communities. About $5 million is provided to the State Water Resources Control Board for the purpose of sustainable management of groundwater basins, and the Department of Water Resources receives $3 million for its monitoring program for groundwater.

Proposition 65

The budget also allocates $785,000 for four new positions at the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Fund to “revise Proposition 65 regulations and develop a website that provides information to the public on exposure to listed chemicals.”