in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

January 30, 2015

Join Us for Breakfast at the World Ag Expo on Feb. 11

Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford)

Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford)

Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) and California Water Commission Vice-Chair, Joe Del Bosque are the featured speakers at Ag Council’s World Ag Expo breakfast on Feb. 11th at 8 a.m.

Members and friends are invited to join Ag Council for our fourth annual breakfast at the World Ag Expo on February 11, 2015 at 8 a.m. in the Heritage Complex – Conference Dining Room. This year, we have two great speakers lined-up: Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) and California Water Commission (CWC) Vice-Chair Joe Del Bosque.

Senator Vidak will address issues at the forefront of the 2015 legislative session. Joe Del Bosque will speak about the next steps in the implementation of the recently approved water bond. We hope you’ll join us for this informative discussion.

There is no cost to attend. However, an RSVP is required to Allyson Rathkamp at: Allyson@agcouncil.org or (916) 443-4887. Please contact Allyson with any questions.

Dairy Members Meet with Legislators

Ag Council’s Dairy Committee members met with a bipartisan group of legislators in Sacramento this week for breakfast. The meet and greet breakfast was an opportunity to connect with legislators and also discuss issues facing the dairy industry.

Through this initial conversation, we endeavor to build a stronger dialogue between our members and legislators regarding policies impacting California dairy farmers.

Legislation Impacting Dairy

With the 2015 legislative session underway, legislators are drafting and introducing bills on a multitude of policy matters. February 27 is the last day for bills to be introduced in the California State Legislature, which means we will see a significant number of measures introduced over the next month.

Ag Council wanted to take this opportunity to provide information regarding legislation introduced at the state level that would impact our dairy members. Given that it is early in the year, legislation will continue to be altered and amended.

Use of Antibiotics in Livestock & Poultry – SB 27

Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced SB 27, a bill addressing the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. SB 27 was written in response to Governor Brown’s veto of an antibiotics bill, SB 835, by Senator Hill last year. SB 835 would have aligned California law with recent federal actions to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes.

At this time, SB 27 includes the following provisions:
• Prohibits the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in livestock and poultry unless prescribed by a veterinarian.
• Bans the use of antibiotics to promote growth or increase feed efficiency.
• Requires CDFA to develop antibiotic stewardship guidelines.
• Mandates CDFA to create a program to track the use of medically important antibiotics and track antibiotic-resistant bacteria and patterns of emerging resistance.

Ag Council and other ag groups have met with Senator Hill and his staff to communicate concerns about SB 27 including privacy protections for the farming community. At the federal level, the United States Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA) is developing a blueprint document coordinated with other federal agencies to address antibiotic resistance nationwide, and we do not want the state to circumvent the important work occurring at the national level on this issue.

A hearing has not yet been scheduled regarding SB 27. Ag Council continues to engage on this issue, and we will continue to communicate further developments.

Dairy – AB 77

Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Porterville) drafted and submitted a “spot” bill relating to dairy, which does not yet contain substantive language. Spots bills are placeholders that legislators may choose to alter as the legislative year progresses, and a spot bill is typically introduced to ensure that a germane vehicle will be available at a later date for a specific policy issue. Spot measures cannot be referred to a committee for a hearing until substantive language is added.

Ag Council staff has met with Assemblyman Mathis who confirmed that AB 77 is a spot bill, and the intent is to have a bill ready in case the dairy industry needs a legislative vehicle on an issue of concern during the legislative session.

Ag Council Comments on Air Toxics Health Risk Guidelines

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) recently adopted new risk estimates resulting from changes to air toxics health risk guidelines that could compel businesses to notify surrounding communities that the health risk from their operations is growing, despite the fact their facility emissions remain the same or even decreased.

Ag Council recently provided written comments to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA), which are working on these guidelines, urging them to develop reasonable air toxics policies. CARB and CAPCOA guidelines for local air districts should help put new facility health risk estimates into proper context when communicating to the public. The guidelines should recognize that absent an actual increase in air toxics emissions, a given facility does not pose an increased risk to nearby communities and risk reduction requirements should reflect that fact.

Ag Council is concerned our members could be required to notify the public of a “new” health risk. Risk communication policies must be developed in a way that the public is offered clear and credible explanations of why the health risk assessment guidelines have changed and what the changes really mean in terms of actual health risks. It is important the public understand air toxics emissions have not increased; rather, the state has changed the way it estimates air toxics risk. It is imperative that new risk estimates are put into proper context so as not to unnecessarily alarm the public.

Our members need reasonable policies that will allow them to operate their business with certainty. Challenging new policies, such as this, could significantly harm our members’ operations or jeopardize their ability to obtain or renew local permits.

Ag Council remains involved in this issue and will keep our members apprised of further developments.

State Board of Food & Ag to Hold Drought Meeting

Given that farmers are facing the possibility of drought for the fourth year in a row, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture is holding a meeting with federal, state and local officials on February 3, 2015 at 10 a.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N Street in Sacramento in the Main Auditorium to discuss drought operations and potential actions in 2015.

“It is critically important that we continue to work cooperatively with our federal and state partners in addressing this ongoing drought,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “With our current lack of significant precipitation and snowpack, this could be an extremely challenging year for our state’s farmers and ranchers.”

The meeting will be streamed live online HERE. To read more, click HERE.

January 23, 2015

Ag Council Welcomes Legislators at Open House Reception

Ag Council and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) held an Open House reception on Jan. 15th providing the opportunity to connect with 23 legislators and over 70 administration officials, legislative staff members and other guests as the 2015 legislative session gets underway in the State Capitol.

The event was held to welcome guests to Ag Council’s new office location shared with CAWG in the Senator Office Building across from the State Capitol located at 1121 L Street in Sacramento.

We thank our board members and friends who were able to join us at the Open House, and we look forward to many productive years in our new office location.

Blue Diamond Young Leaders Visit the State Capitol

The 2015 Blue Diamond Young Leaders visit the State Capitol to learn about key policy issues.

The 2015 Blue Diamond Young Leaders visit the State Capitol to learn about key policy issues.

On Jan. 22nd, farmers participating in Blue Diamond Growers’ 2015 Young Leader program met in Sacramento to learn more about policy issues impacting their business. The purpose of the program is to prepare participants for leadership roles within the cooperative.

Ag Council staff joined the Young Leaders to present an overview of state policy issues affecting agriculture, discuss the legislative process in Sacramento and attend a meeting with Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) to discuss critical issues facing the ag community.

State Water Resources Control Board member, Steven Moore, spoke to the group at lunch to explain the board’s role in the implementation of the groundwater law. The farmers also toured the State Capitol.

Assembly Republican Leader, Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), gave an energizing keynote dinner speech about her work in Sacramento and the importance of being involved in policy issues.

Butte County Rice Growers Association Celebrates 100 Years

LaVerne Grell (on left) and BUCRA President & CEO Carl Hoff at BUCRA's centennial celebration. Grell was a young child when BUCRA was first established, and her father was among the original board of directors. Photo courtesy of BUCRA.

LaVerne Grell (on left) and BUCRA President & CEO Carl Hoff at BUCRA’s centennial celebration. Grell was a young child when BUCRA was first established, and her father was among the original board of directors. Photo courtesy of BUCRA.

Ag Council congratulates our member, Butte County Rice Growers Association (BUCRA), as the cooperative celebrates its centennial. We commend BUCRA for its 100 years of leadership and innovation in the rice industry.

Hundreds of attendees, including Ag Council staff, joined BUCRA as it celebrated its centennial on January 9th at a gala dinner in Chico.

Congratulations to BUCRA growers and President & CEO Carl Hoff for reaching this significant milestone. To read more about BUCRA’s centennial, click HERE.

January 9, 2015

Gov. Brown Reveals $113 Billion State Budget

Today, Governor Jerry Brown released his state budget containing $113 billion for 2015-2016, which is a five percent increase above the previous general fund budget.

At a press conference, Brown said, “This carefully balanced budget builds for the future by saving money, paying down debt and investing in our state’s core needs. Our long-term fiscal health depends on the wise and prudent actions we take today.”

Of interest to the ag community, the governor’s 2015-2016 budget includes $532.5 million in funding from the water bond, Prop 1, for ongoing work to implement the Water Action Plan, including efforts to improve access to safe drinking water, water storage, water recycling, and groundwater sustainability, among other priorities. This is the first expenditure of funds from Prop 1 and legislators must approve the funding prior to implementation. In addition, Brown’s budget contains $1.1 billion from a 2006 flood bond to augment flood protection in California.

The governor’s budget also reflects his continued focus on lowering carbon emissions with $1 billion in cap-and-trade funding going toward low-carbon transportation, sustainable communities, energy efficiency, urban forests and high-speed rail.

Given the significant expansion of Medi-Cal to over 12 million people and the unfunded liabilities for retiree health care benefits estimated at $72 billion, Brown said, “The budget is precariously balanced and will get more challenging down the road.”

Now that the governor has formally released his budget, the California State Legislature will hold budget hearings over the next few months prior to developing a final budget, which must be approved by June 15, 2015.

Click HERE to read the governor’s budget press statement.

CalRecycle Pulls Ag into Proposed Regs

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is proposing new regulations regarding the land application of agricultural and food processing byproducts, storage and disposal of those byproducts and a new definition of agricultural materials and in-vessel digestion.

CalRecycle states that they are trying to address a specific nuisance issue with municipal green waste composting operations. However, Ag Council is concerned that CalRecycle unnecessarily places agricultural and food processing byproducts under a layer of repetitive and possibly conflicting laws for some in our industry.

Ag Council is concerned the newly proposed regulations cause more confusion than clarity in the agricultural community and unnecessarily place agricultural and food processing by-products within a regulatory structure that is really intended to regulate composting operations and final deposition of finished composts.

This proposed regulation flies in the face of other efforts within the Administration, such as the work at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), which streamlines the permit process and works to create a more business-friendly environment.

Ag Council submitted written comments reflecting our concerns and provided testimony at the December public meeting to express that CalRecycle has cast its net too wide and–because of drafting issues and changes to underlying definitions–the entire scope of the regulation is not clear.

Ag Council remains engaged in this matter and would be pleased to share our comment letter with members. To receive a copy of the comment letter, or to learn more about this issue, please email Rachael O’Brien at: rachael@agcouncil.org.

CalOSHA Proposes Unrealistic and Unjustified Heat Illness Regs

Ag Council joined together with other ag organizations recently to provide comments regarding Cal/OSHA’s proposed modifications to the Heat Illness Prevention Standard.

In particular, the regulatory agency is proceeding with impractical changes to the Heat Illness Prevention Standard without any substantive reasoning for such changes. In addition to the fact the proposed revisions are not justified, they also include unrealistic shade and break requirements. To read the detailed comment letter, click HERE.