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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

March 27, 2015


Drought Packaged Signed by Governor Brown

On March 27, Governor Jerry Brown signed the $1.1 billion emergency drought package. The drought legislation was approved in the Senate and Assembly. Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature expressed support for emergency assistance to drought-stricken areas during consideration of the legislation. However, Republicans objected to new government authorities also included within the drought package.

Upon signing the drought package, Governor Brown said, “This funding is just one piece of a much larger effort to help those most impacted by the drought and prepare the state for an uncertain future,” said Governor Brown. “But make no mistake, from Modoc to Imperial County, rain is not in the forecast and every Californian must be doing their utmost to conserve water.”

During the Assembly floor debate, Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said, “When we passed the historic water bond last year, we said we would revisit it to do more if needed. The package before us today is the first step in fulfilling that obligation and in helping bring relief to Californians suffering the effects of the drought.”

The emergency drought package accelerates existing funds for the following purposes: $267 million in Prop 1 water bond funds for safe drinking water and water recycling, $660 million from Prop 1E for flood protection to prepare for future weather events, $17 million for emergency food aid to drought-affected areas, $4 million for emergency drinking water to disadvantaged communities, $5 million to the Department of Water Resources to provide emergency drinking water support for small communities, including private well shortages, as well as other funding.

The drought package also creates a new office within the State Water Resources Control Board tasked with finding permanent solutions for safe drinking water and wastewater treatment.

Republicans voiced concerns regarding the portion of the drought package that authorizes fines of up to $8,000 for those who illegally dam or divert rivers and streams. Republicans said certain provisions in the legislation give broad powers for government officials to prevent landowners or water rights holders from appealing penalties. Democrats argued the language is a way to crack down on marijuana growers in the state.

The drought legislation authorizes the Department of Fish and Wildlife to levy civil penalties “where diversions are obstructing fish passage” and for “obstructions associated with marijuana cultivation.”

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) was among those who objected to the provisions. He said, “It’s a very broad and sweeping, expansive authority granted to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The problem with granting Fish and Wildlife these powers is they’re not just going to just use them against marijuana growers. They’re going to use them against people who have water rights and people who have an existing right to divert water.”

Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) said, “Every time we do one of these emergency bills what we really do is expand the authority of government.”

Confidentiality of Well Logs Threatened Under SB 20

On March 24, Ag Council opposed SB 20 by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) during a Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water hearing. The measure would allow well completion reports–also known as well logs or drillers logs–to be made publicly available.

Well logs are a record of the drilling and construction of a well. Well logs must currently be submitted to the Department of Water Resources and are available to the appropriate public agencies.

Ag Council opposes SB 20 since agencies that need well log data already have access to the information. The data is confidential and releasing it to the public does not provide any advantage, except to render it subject to litigation.

SB 20 passed the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on March 24 and is now pending in the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality.

In Case You Missed It

Click HERE to read an op-ed in the LA Times written by an almond grower entitled, “Why almond growers aren’t the water enemy.”

If you missed the AgNet West interview with State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus, conducted during Ag Council’s 96th Annual Meeting, click HERE to read it and listen to the audio.

March 20, 2015


Emergency Drought Package Announced

Governor Jerry Brown and state legislative leaders announced a $1 billion emergency drought package on March 19 to expedite bond and other funding for local drought relief and infrastructure projects.

The drought package does not provide new state funding. It is an acceleration of funds for the following purposes, among others: $272 million in Prop 1 water bond funds for safe drinking water and water recycling, $660 million from Prop 1E for flood protection to prepare for future weather events, $17 million for emergency food aid to drought-affected areas, $4 million for emergency drinking water to disadvantaged communities, $5 million to the Department of Water Resources to provide emergency drinking water support for small communities, as well as other funding.

Chart courtesy of Department of Water Resources. (Click photo to enlarge)

Chart courtesy of Department of Water Resources. (Click photo to enlarge)

Ag Council appreciates the state government’s attention to the drought issue. However, with water content in Central Sierra snowpack at 20 percent of average and only 16 percent of average in the Northern Sierra, as well as strict regulatory policies in place, agriculture will continue bear a heavy burden in the midst of this drought. The State Water Project is delivering just 20 percent of water to farmers and the Central Valley Project is projecting a zero percent water allocation to agricultural water users. This means less food grown here in California and fewer jobs.

We hope the acceleration of state funding helps the state better prepare for future droughts, so that the suffering in our agricultural communities can end and our members can do what they do best—grow safe and affordable food for families.

The Legislature is expected to consider the drought package during the week of March 23.

State Water Board Revises Emergency Conservation Measures

The State Water Resources Control Board on March 17 voted to extend and expand emergency regulations to prohibit certain types of water use, such as washing down sidewalks and creating a minimum standard for outdoor irrigation restrictions by urban water suppliers.

The Board took action to require urban water suppliers to limit outdoor irrigation to two days a week and also mandated that water agencies ban landscape irrigation on rainy days and within 48 hours of rain. In addition, the Board approved new rules on retail businesses including a ban on serving water in restaurants unless requested and a mandate for hotels to offer to guests the option to not wash linens.

To enforce the regulations, local water agencies can impose fines of up to $500 per violation, and the water agencies can be fined up to $10,000 per day by the state for violations.

Click HERE to read the emergency regulations approved by the Board on March 17.

Prop 65 Update

The business community had a meaningful victory on March 17 in the Environmental Law Foundation v. Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp decision by the First District Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling that interpreted Prop 65 regulations to allow businesses to average the level of exposure to lead in food products over multiple days instead of evaluating the exposure on the day the food is actually consumed. A copy of the decision can be found HERE.

On the legislative front, Ag Council supports AB 543 by Assemblymember Quirk (D-Hayward) to address “overwarning” concerns in the business community as a result of Prop 65. AB 543 provides that a person, in the course of doing business, does not knowingly and intentionally expose an individual to a chemical known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity if an exposure assessment is conducted and meets specified requirements.

To read the letter in support of this measure, click HERE. AB 543 is awaiting consideration in the legislative hearing process.

Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2015

Ag Council opposes AB 67 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), entitled the Double Pay on the Holiday Act, which would mandate that employers pay employees at least two times the regular rate of pay on “family holidays” defined in AB 67 as December 25 and the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving).

Given that AB 67 will raise costs on employers and create a competitive disadvantage for businesses with a physical presence in California, Ag Council spoke in opposition to AB 67 during a hearing in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. The committee members approved the bill on a 5-2 vote, and the measure now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Impact ReportImpactReportCover_2014.114919

In case you missed it, Ag Council released the 2014 Impact Report. Ag Council’s regulatory and legislative advocacy work is detailed in the report, among other efforts.

Click HERE to view the 2014 Impact Report.

March 13, 2015


Ag Council Gathers for 96th Annual Meeting in San Francisco

More than 160 agricultural leaders met in San Francisco March 4-6 to discuss key issues impacting California’s number one industry during Ag Council’s Annual Meeting, which was held in conjunction with CoBank’s Pacific West Customer conference.

“The need for an organization like Ag Council has never been greater,” said Rich Hudgins, whose 2-year term as Ag Council’s chairman concluded at this meeting. Hudgins is the current president and CEO of the California Canning Peach Association.

Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, addresses Annual Meeting attendees.

Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, addresses Annual Meeting attendees.

In his opening remarks at the Ag Council Delegate Body Meeting, Hudgins said, “2014 was both challenging and rewarding for our membership. Challenging—because of the myriad of issues we faced, including the historic drought that is ongoing. Rewarding—because we have seen our organization continue to grow. Our success at Ag Council is sometimes difficult to measure as our metrics revolve around our ability to educate legislators and regulators. Oftentimes a win is simply avoiding an adverse outcome; however, the tireless work of our board and our staff has allowed us to continue to make important strides in Sacramento.”

During the Delegate Body Meeting, President Emily Rooney updated the membership about Ag Council’s accomplishments during the past year. The organization has had three years of consecutive membership growth, and has added additional staff to aid in strategic development.

Rooney highlighted some of Ag Council’s advocacy efforts, as well as legislative work, including the passage of Propositions 1 and 2—the water bond and rainy day fund measures—and the ongoing efforts that will now ensue with implementation.

Ag Council’s Annual Dinner on March 4, featured keynote speaker Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto). “This year we are faced with the ongoing challenge of sustaining our water supply. This is the number one crisis facing us in the state of California today, and it is connected to so many of our other problems—job growth being the most important. Economic recovery in California is not a reality as long as we continue to face a drought. We have to keep the water crisis top of mind with not just legislators, but with everyday consumers,” Olsen said.

During the General Session, water continued to be the primary focus. The session featured Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board; David Gutierrez, program manager for the Department of Water Resource’s Groundwater Sustainability Program; and Gordon Fowler, CEO and president of 3fold Communications, a multi-million dollar marketing agency with clients in 25 states.

To continue reading the Annual Meeting summary and to view photos from the event, click HERE.

Mike Emigh Honored with California Cultivator Award

Rich Hudgins, Ag Council chairman and president of the California Canning Peach Association, presents the California Cultivator Award to Mike Emigh, who is past president of Valley Fig Growers and who also previously served as Ag Council chairman.

Rich Hudgins, Ag Council chairman and president of the California Canning Peach Association, presents the California Cultivator Award to Mike Emigh, who is past president of Valley Fig Growers and who also previously served as Ag Council chairman.

Ag Council’s honored Mike Emigh as the recipient of the 2015 California Cultivator Award on March 5. Emigh was president of Valley Fig Growers, a grower-owned marketing cooperative of dried figs located in Fresno, Calif. from 1997 to 2013. He began working with the cooperative in 1984, first serving as vice president of finance. He is a past chairman of Ag Council.

“As chairman of Ag Council, Mike was critical to the successful transition between our executive presidents, setting us on the path that has brought us to our current success,” said Rich Hudgins during the award presentation. “Simply put, Mike was the right guy, in the right place at the right time for this organization.”

Since moving to the San Joaquin Valley in 1978, Emigh was heavily involved in agriculture in both his career that began with Sun-Maid Growers of California, and his civic work. He is a past chairman of the California Fig Advisory Board and also currently serves on the DFA of California Board.

During his tenure at Valley Fig Growers, Mike was instrumental in creating a more environmentally friendly footprint for the plant. An anaerobic digester was installed to reduce the amount of wastewater the facility discharged into the City of Fresno’s sewer system, freeing up sewer capacity to accommodate the equivalent of 2,500 homes. The digester also produces biogas, which is used to heat water for plant operations. Under Emigh’s management, the facility’s energy requirements were further mitigated with the installation of a solar array that provides 60 percent of its electrical power needs.

In accepting his award, Emigh described his roots in agriculture, growing up on a farm in Kansas, and then moving with his family to Nevada. “I love agriculture. The people who produce our food are the salt of the earth. I am very proud of my involvement in this industry, and especially my time involved with Ag Council. It has been one of the most fulfilling times of my career,” Emigh said.

Impact Report Revealed at Annual Meeting

ImpactReportCover_2014.114919On March 5, Ag Council released its 2014 Impact Report during the Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Ag Council’s regulatory and legislative advocacy work is detailed in the report, among other efforts.

Click HERE to view and read the 2014 Impact Report.

Thank You to our Sponsors

Ag Council expresses appreciation to the following members for their generous support of our Annual Meeting, as well as the Golf Tournament.  We thank you.

Ag Council extends a special thank you to our Annual Meeting partner, CoBank.

Annual Meeting Sponsors

Platinum
Farm Credit (American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit, and Golden State Farm Credit)

Fruit Growers Supply Company/Sunkist Growers
Nationwide

Silver

Allied Grape Growers
Blue Diamond Growers
Land O’Lakes
Pacific Coast Producers
Sunsweet Growers

General 
Butte County Rice Growers Association
DFA of California
Morrison & Company
Sun-Maid Growers of California
The Gualco Group, Inc.

Golf Tournament Sponsors

Platinum

Blue Diamond Growers

Gold

Butte County Rice Growers Association
CALAMCO
Farm Credit (American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit and Golden State Farm Credit)
Moss Adams, LLP
Paramount Farms
Raisin Bargaining Association

Silver
Almond Hullers and Processors Association
Bank of the West
Central California Almond Growers Association
Edgewood Partners Insurance Center (EPIC)
Farm Credit Leasing
Pacific Coast Producers