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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

April 24, 2015


In the Legislature…

State Capitol

State Capitol

Dairy Committee Meets with Legislators 
Ag Council’s Dairy Committee held a breakfast with legislators in Sacramento on April 23.

The breakfast gave our dairy members the opportunity to connect with elected officials and discuss critical water issues at the top the minds of legislators. Our members discussed their water use efficiency and recycling efforts with the legislators.

The Dairy Committee is working to build a stronger dialogue with legislators regarding policies impacting California dairy farmers.

Hearing on the Use of Antibiotics in Livestock & Poultry
During a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on April 21, Ag Council expressed concerns about SB 27 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo). SB 27 would restrict the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry.

The measure was approved in the Senate Agriculture Committee and is awaiting consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Ag Council continues to work, along with an ag coalition, to improve the bill.

On the Legislative Docket Next Week…

Numerous bills are up for consideration in the hearing process during the week of April 27, and Ag Council is weighing-in on the following bills, among others:

AB 1390 – Legislation pertaining to adjudications by Assemblyman Alejo (D-Watsonville). Ag Council supports AB 1390. The bill streamlines the groundwater adjudication process by which courts may undertake determinations of groundwater rights in a basin. The bill protects water rights.

SB 20 – Bill relating to well logs by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). Ag Council is opposed to the bill.  SB 20 would make well logs publicly available. Agencies that need well log data already have access to the information. This data is confidential and releasing it to the public does not provide any advantage, except to render it subject to litigation.

SB 226 – Groundwater bill by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). Ag Council is opposed to SB 226. This measure makes changes to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, approved in 2014, in a manner that raises concerns relating to water rights.

SB 32 – Greenhouse Gas Emissions measure by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills). Ag Council is opposed.  SB 32 requires the Air Resources Board reduce emissions to 80 percent below the 1990 level by the year 2050.

SB 119 – Bill relating to excavations (811-Call before you dig program) by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo).  SB 119 requires the state to adopt a program to enforce violations of provisions relating to excavation. Ag Council opposes this bill unless it is amended to address agriculture’s concerns, and we are working to achieve this goal.

SB 687 – Biomethane mandate bill by Senator Allen (D-Santa Monica). Ag Council is opposed to SB 687. This measure would lead to higher costs, is a double tax on businesses in the cap & trade program and makes California businesses less competitive.

If you have questions about any of the above measures, please call Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887.

Ag Council Raises Concerns about Sustainable Freight Strategy

On April 23, Ag Council staff testified at the California Air Resources Board (ARB) hearing expressing concerns regarding the Sustainable Freight Strategy.

ARB released the Sustainable Freight: Pathways to Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Discussion Draft. This document is a collection of proposed immediate, near-term and longer term measures, which will feed into other State planning efforts, such as AB 32 Scoping Plan Updates and the 2016 Short-lived Climate Pollutant Strategy.

This report is important because it sets the stage for what ARB, and possibly the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley Air Districts will propose for the freight sector. The goal of this effort is to make progress in moving domestic and international cargo more efficiently, with zero and near zero emissions where feasible.

Click HERE to read the letter on April 20 highlighting our concerns. If you have any questions, please contact Rachael O’Brien at ph. (916) 443-4887.

Jeana Hultquist Honored with Common Threads Award

Jeana Hultquist - Photo Courtesy of Common Threads

Jeana Hultquist – Photo Courtesy of Common Threads

Congratulations to Jeana Hultquist for being honored on April 16 with the Common Threads Award given for outstanding service, dedication and philanthropy.

Common Threads North, through the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, recognizes exceptional women in agriculture. Jeana, along with three other women, received the Common Threads award at a luncheon in Chico.

Jeana is truly deserving of this honor having demonstrated exceptional commitment and service as an influential Ag Council board member. She begins her new legislative affairs position at American AgCredit in May, and we look forward to working with her in this new capacity.

April 17, 2015


Legislative Update

In the California State Legislature, hearings are in full swing given that May 1 is the deadline for policy committees to hear bills with a fiscal impact, and May 15 is the deadline for policy committees to hear nonfiscal measures. Hearings were held on water and excavation-related bills, among others. A more detailed description is provided below along with Ag Council’s engagement and positions on those issues. As always, please contact Ag Council at ph. (916) 443-4887 if you have any questions.

Bill to Streamline Groundwater Adjudications Moves Forward

Ag Council supports AB 1390 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), which is intended to streamline the process for groundwater adjudications and allow courts to more efficiently move through the process. AB 1390 addresses delays in groundwater adjudications through the development of standardized forms, processes and requirements.

Adjudications were a part of the discussion during the debate on the groundwater package, known as Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), in 2014. Agricultural advocates supported the inclusion of a streamlined process for adjudications. However, it was not included in SGMA. AB 1390 is needed, as Assemblyman Alejo says, in order to “ease the burden on the courts, provide the parties with the most efficient resolution possible, protect individual rights, all while integrating adjudication actions with SGMA.”

As background, in groundwater adjudications, groundwater users can request a court to hear arguments for and against the right to use groundwater resources. The court can then assign water rights to users and require others to limit groundwater pumping.

The Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife approved AB 1390 on April 14 by a vote of 14-0. The measure is now under consideration in the Assembly Committee on Judiciary.

Click HERE to read the April 8 letter of support for AB 1390.

SB 20 Threatens Confidentiality of Well Reports

On April 15, Ag Council opposed SB 20 by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) during a Senate Committee on Environmental Quality 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 Environmental Quality by a vote of 5-2, and the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water approved the measure on March 24 by a vote of 7-2. It now moves to the Committee on Appropriations.

Ag Council Opposes Excavation Measure Unless Amended

Ag Council opposes SB 119, relating to excavations (811-Call Before You Dig), unless the measure is amended to address agricultural concerns. SB 119 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) authorizes the state to adopt a program to enforce excavation violations, among other actions, in order to address safety concerns relating to underground infrastructure.

Ag Council and other ag organizations have worked to highlight the unique nature of agriculture and how our industry could be impacted if the bill moves forward. For example, we are raising concerns about how the bill defines which activities prompt a call to 811.

Senator Hill expressed a commitment to address agriculture’s concerns during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization, and we continue to work on language to meet that goal on behalf of our members.

SB 119 was approved in the Senate Committee on Governmental Organization by a vote of 9-2, and passed by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions & Economic Development on April 6 by a vote of 9-0. The bill now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

To read the letter detailing our position on SB 119, click HERE.

Grant Funds Available for Dairy Digester Research

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting proposals for the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program Phase II.

Approximately $500,000 in grant funding will be awarded to research proposals studying manure management practices that directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate an understanding of the economic and environmental benefits of diary digesters.

Applicants can access instructions, eligibility requirements, and scoring criteria HERE. Applications are due electronically to grants@cdfa.ca.gov no later than May 15 at 5 p.m.

 

April 10, 2015


Ag Council Participates in Drought Meeting with Gov. Brown

On April 8, Ag Council participated in a drought meeting with Governor Jerry Brown, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin, State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus and about 25 stakeholders from the urban, environmental and agricultural communities.

The goals of the meeting were to discuss common pressures related to the drought and to discuss the next steps should the drought continue. Afterward, the media briefly joined the meeting for interviews.

Overall, despite the diverse nature of the stakeholders, and differing perspectives on water, the conversation was relatively positive. There were a few contentious moments. However, participants recognized that with the current drought conditions, now is the time for an “all hands on deck” approach to solving very complex problems.

Key themes:
1) The bulk of the conversation consisted of discussion about the potential for future collaboration. Participants cited specific examples where collaboration assisted with local water and environmental projects.

2) While no specific next steps were outlined, urban water users and state agencies asked for regulatory flexibility to assist in building local water projects and the ability to deal with other drought issues on the local level.

3) The environmental community continues to ask for more reporting and public information on water use. However, the Governor pushed back on such requests. We believe this was the first of several meetings, and Ag Council will keep our members apprised of future meetings.

Ag Council intends to leverage the conversation to find areas of commonality among the agricultural community and pursue those areas with Governor Brown and his administration.

Assembly Ag Committee Chair Henry Perea Visits Almond Farm

Dan Clendenin, a farmer with Blue Diamond Growers, speaks with Assembly Ag Committee Chairman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) about water use efficiencies.

Dan Clendenin, a farmer with Blue Diamond Growers, speaks with Assembly Ag Committee Chairman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) about water use efficiencies.

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chairman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) on April 10, met with Dan Clendenin, a family farmer in Merced who grows almonds for Blue Diamond Growers, an Ag Council member.

Chairman Perea toured the farm and Dan talked about how the drought has impacted him and discussed his efforts to efficiently use water. Dan talked about his use of micro-sprinklers to efficiently irrigate his crop. With 70 percent of almond growers using such systems, farmers are leaders in water use efficiency. Dan also uses a drip irrigation system because it maximizes water absorption into the soil with less evaporation.

Dan, like many farmers in California, is experiencing significant water challenges given that he is currently not receiving any surface water and is using groundwater. Though Dan has no surface water allocation, surface water is being provided from the same source for environmental purposes. Dan also spoke with Chairman Perea about the cost of water, which is contingent upon many factors, as well as the costs to operate his farm.

Ag Council thanks Chairman Perea for taking the time to learn more about ag water use. We also appreciate Dan Clendenin and Blue Diamond for helping to provide Chairman Perea with critical information about ag water use.

Ag Water Use Fact Sheet

Ag Council member, Almond Hullers & Processors Association (AHPA) developed a fact sheet entitled, “8 Facts about Almonds, Agriculture, and the Drought.” Given the recent misinformation regarding agricultural water use, it is vital that accurate information is provided to the media and the public. AHPA’s fact sheet includes the following information:

• Agriculture uses 41 percent of our state’s total water supply, not 80 percent as stated by some in the media. Click HERE for details published in a study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and posted on the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) website. To view the full PPIC Water Policy Center report, click HERE.

• Farmers are sharing in the sacrifice. Last year, the drought cost farmers $1.5 billion in California and caused over 17,000 job losses, according to a 2014 UC Davis drought impact study. Click HERE for more details.

• Over 90 percent of almond farms are family farms and three-quarters are under 100 acres, per the United States Department of Agriculture 2012 Census.

• Total agricultural water use is not increasing; in fact, it decreased between 1967 and 2010 and is holding steady, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR).  In the meantime, the value per gallon has increased.

To read the full AHPA release, click HERE.

Food & Ag Coalition Comments on Prop 65 Proposed Regulation

Ag Council and a coalition of food and ag associations provided comments on April 8 regarding the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) proposed rule pertaining to Prop 65 Clear and Reasonable Warnings.

In the letter, the Food and Ag Coalition urges OEHHA to pursue additional avenues of Prop. 65 reform, including litigation reform and improvements to the “naturally occurring” exemption. In addition, the Coalition provided recommendations regarding the proposed regulation on Clear and Reasonable Warnings that would provide more meaningful changes for producers and consumers.

Ag Council remains highly engaged in Prop 65 issues on behalf of our members and will continue to communicate regulatory updates on this issue to our members.

To read the Food and Ag Coalition letter, click HERE.

Ag Council Testifies at Fumigation Workshop

On April 9, the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) held a workshop to consider expanding field fumigation notification requirements. Ag Council voiced concerns during the workshop, joining more than a dozen farmers and stakeholders to express concern that farmers may eventually be required to both notify and monitor for all field fumigations.

A special thank you to Dave Phippen, a member of Almond Hullers and Processors Association (AHPA)–an Ag Council member–for participating as a panelist during the workshop.

As background, DPR is evaluating the current methyl bromide notification regulations and label requirements to determine if any of those requirements should be made applicable to other fumigants.

Click HERE for further details on DPR’s website.

Labor Relations & Worker Safety Course

Ag Council members are encouraged to attend an employee relations class that is a part of the Farm and Ranch Management Industry Training (FARMit) program developed by the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA).

This class is beneficial for owner/operators, farm managers, agricultural consultants and anyone working with employees in the California ag arena. The course will provide an overview of worker safety and labor relations, while also delving into critical information regarding the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, Cal/OSHA and other regulatory matters affecting agricultural employers and managers.

The course is scheduled on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at La Quinta Inn & Suites in Paso Robles.

Water Commission to Hold Public Meetings on Water Storage

The California Water Commission is holding public meetings regarding the Water Storage Investment Program in April. Meetings will be held in Chico on April 13 and in Fresno on April 15 and both meetings begin at 5:30 p.m.

The meetings are an opportunity for the public to learn more about Prop 1 (the water bond), hear the timeline for implementation of the water storage component of the bond, and better understand how the public can be involved in the process. The public can also suggest ideas to the water commissioners during the meetings.

For information about the meetings, click HERE for the April 13 meeting in Chico and HERE for the April 15 meeting in Fresno.