<
in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

July 30, 2015


Assemblyman Dodd Visits Pacific Coast Producers

Pictured in photo from left to right: Chris Ward, Plant Manager with Pacific Coast Producers, Mona Shulman, VP & General Counsel with Pacific Coast Producers, Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa), and Will Arnold with Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis).

Pictured in photo from left to right: Chris Ward, Plant Manager with Pacific Coast Producers, Mona Shulman, VP & General Counsel with Pacific Coast Producers, Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa), and Will Arnold with Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis).

Ag Council thanks Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa) for touring Pacific Coast Producers’ tomato processing plant located in the legislator’s district in Woodland on July 29. Pacific Coast Producers is a grower-owned cooperative with three plant locations: Lodi, Oroville and Woodland.

Assemblyman Dodd and his staff, as well as a staff member from Senator Lois Wolk’s (D-Davis) office, viewed the operations in full swing during harvest season. The Woodland plant is where Pacific Coast Producers processes and cans private label tomatoes in the form of paste, puree, stewed and diced tomatoes, among other tomato products. The tomatoes are grown and harvested within a 16-mile radius of the Woodland facility.

Several policy issues were discussed during the visit including water use, the drought, sustainability, energy and climate change.

The day prior to Assemblyman Dodd’s visit, a group of state regulatory officials and Ag Council staff participated in a tour of Pacific Coast Producers’ Woodland facility where various regulatory-focused issues were discussed.

Ag Council appreciates Assemblyman Dodd for taking the time during the legislative recess to visit with and learn more about our members.

We also thank Pacific Coast Producers for their outreach to state officials. Tours are an important part of Ag Council’s effort to connect with legislators and regulatory officials to discuss critical issues facing our members.

Californians Reduce Water Use by Over 27 Percent

Today, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that Californians decreased their water use by 27.3 percent in June, which is the first month of the implementation of Governor Jerry Brown’s mandatory 25 percent urban water reductions.

To read the State Water Resources Control Board’s announcement, click HERE.

In Case You Missed It

On July 28, given the severe and ongoing drought, Ag Council released a statement to remind consumers and the media of how the drought is impacting California farmers, as well as provide information about the significant water efficiency measures farmers have implemented and continue to undertake.

“It shouldn’t be green lawns versus green vegetables,” said Ag Council President Emily Rooney. “We are all in this together, and we want Californians to understand how the drought is affecting small family farms and the food supply by providing reliable, consistent information.”

To continue reading, click HERE for the media release posted onBusiness Wire.

July 23, 2015


Tony Campos to be Honored with Ag One Foundation Recognition

Photo of Tony Campos - courtesy of the Ag One Foundation

Photo of Tony Campos – courtesy of the Ag One Foundation

Congratulations to Ag Council member, Tony Campos of Campos Brothers Farms, who is receiving the Ag One 2015 Community Salute on July 31 at a celebration dinner at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Each year, the Ag One Foundation at Fresno State recognizes an extraordinary individual in the California agricultural or food systems industries. Tony Campos is being honored for his dedication and service to his community.

Over the past 50 years, Tony built a legacy of stewardship, philanthropy, and family values. Tony was born in Orondritz, Spain and immigrated to the United States when he was 17 years old. In 1971, Tony began growing almonds with his two brothers in Caruthers and the first Campos family almond huller was built in 1981.

Today, Tony and his wife Juliet manage Campos Brothers Farms with their adult children. The Campos family shares a passion for agriculture, and Tony stands as an industry leader in almond production and processing. Tony and the Campos family are also committed to supporting various medical, religious, and educational organizations.

Ag Council is fortunate to have Campos Brothers Farms as a member and Jeannine Campos Grech, Tony’s daughter, as a board member. Tony is an exceptional leader, committed philanthropist and deserving of this honor.

As background, the Ag One endowment was created 28 years ago to help fund the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State. Today, the Ag One foundation comprises over $17 million in endowed funds benefitting the college and students.

Tickets have sold out for the July 31 event honoring Tony Campos. Please call Ag One at ph. (559) 278-4266 or click HERE for further details.

Paid Sick Leave Amendment Signed into Law

A bill amending California’s new paid sick leave law, AB 304, was approved on a bipartisan vote in the Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown on July 13. The bill is authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).

AB 304 adjusts how California’s paid sick leave law is implemented. The most substantial changes under AB 304 pertain to accrual provisions and how to pay employees when they use sick time.

The changes are intended to clarify areas where employers expressed concern about the paid sick leave law. The bill goes into effect immediately given it was approved by the Legislature with an “urgency” clause.

AB 304 address the following issue areas, among others. The bill:

• Clarifies who is a covered worker by stating the law applies to employees who work for the same employer for 30 or more days within one year;
• Exempts retired annuitants;
• Provides alternative accrual methods other than one hour for every 30 hours worked;
• Explains protections for employers who already provided paid sick leave or paid time off before January 1, 2015;
• Details alternative methods for paying employees who use paid sick leave;
• Describes the rules regarding reinstatement of benefits to rehired employees; and
• Addresses unlimited sick leave policies.

Employers are encouraged to discuss any questions with their labor and/or employment counsel in order to best understand how the new law applies to their workforce.

Click HERE for the full text of AB 304.

Governor Touts Climate Change Efforts While in Vatican City

Governor Jerry Brown spoke at a symposium in Vatican City on July 21 regarding California’s response to climate change.

In his remarks, Governor Brown said, “The California economy has steadily reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, particularly on a per capita basis, but its economy is growing over the last decade faster than the economy of the United States as a whole. So, there are ways that we cannot mock creation or the laws of nature, but live within them. We have to get on the side of nature and not abuse it or go against it.”

In his speech, Governor Brown called upon the mayors in attendance from throughout the world to fight against climate change. To read Governor Brown’s full remarks, click HERE.

As background, this past April, Governor Brown issued an executive order establishing an aggressive target for California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. The governor views this action as an interim step toward later attaining an 80 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050.

Grant Funding Awarded to Dairy Digester Projects

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently announced grant funding awards for five Central Valley dairy operations to implement digester technology projects.

The goal of the projects, funded with approximately $11.1 million in grants, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from dairy manure. The funding derives from the state’s cap and trade program.

For more information, read the CDFA press release HERE.

July 17, 2015


Legislative Update

California State Capitol

California State Capitol

This week, the California State Legislature faced a deadline to move bills out of policy committees and into fiscal committees prior to the annual summer recess. With the recess now underway beginning today, legislators are working in their respective districts until the Legislature reconvenes on August 17 for further business.

Below is an overview of some of the bills Ag Council has been engaged in recently on behalf of our members, along with the status of those bills and Ag Council’s position. As always, please do not hesitate to contact Ag Council if you have any questions ph. (916) 443-4887.

Water Bills

AB 1390 – Improving the efficiency of groundwater adjudications
Position – Support

AB 1390 by Assemblyman Alejo (D-Watsonville) makes the groundwater adjudication process more efficient and facilitates early settlement of groundwater adjudications whereby courts determine groundwater rights in a basin. AB 1390 addresses delays in groundwater adjudications through the development of standardized forms, processes and requirements. The bill reduces costs on the courts, claimants and local entities, and AB 1390 protects water rights.

AB 1390 passed the Assembly, and Ag Council recently spoke in support of the bill during a hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary. It awaits review in the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

SB 226 – Changes to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
Position – Opposed

Ag Council is opposed to SB 226 by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) because the measure makes changes to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, approved in 2014, in a manner that raises concerns about water rights. For example, SB 226 allows the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to intervene in a court proceeding on behalf of the environment in groundwater adjudications, which is a change to existing law. SB 226 was approved in the Senate and is pending in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Labor Legislation

AB 561 – Limits due process at ALRB
Position – Opposed

AB 561 by Assemblywoman Campos (D-San Jose) limits an employer’s due process rights for appeals of an order by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) and may discourage employers from appealing an adverse order altogether. The bill mandates that an employer, seeking a review of an ALRB decision, post a bond in the amount of the entire economic value of the order as determined by ALRB. United Farm Workers is sponsoring this bill.

The measure passed the Assembly and awaits consideration in the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Ag Council and other ag groups continue to oppose AB 561.

SB 3 – Minimum wage increase
Position – Opposed

SB 3, by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), raises the minimum wage to $11 per hour in January 2016 and increases it to $13 per hour beginning July 2017. SB 3 then raises minimum wage according to inflation in subsequent years.

Ag Council and numerous other ag and business groups are advocating against this measure given that SB 3 imposes more costs onto the business community in California and limits job growth. California’s minimum wage is currently $9 per hour and will be raised to $10 in January 2016 under the existing law passed by the Legislature in 2013.

SB 3 passed the Senate, and Ag Council recently spoke in opposition to the bill in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment. The measure is pending consideration in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations at this time.

Use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture

SB 27 – Antibiotics use in livestock & poultry
Position: Neutral /Working with the author


The Assembly Agriculture Committee approved SB 27 in early July. The bill, by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo), limits antibiotics use in livestock and poultry. Beginning January 2018, the bill prohibits the administration of medically important antibiotics to livestock unless ordered by a veterinarian through a prescription or via a veterinary feed directive. Medically important antibiotics are those used in humans, as well as livestock and poultry. SB 27 also prohibits the administration of a medically important antibiotic to livestock solely to increase weight gain or to improve feed efficiency.

Ag Council and other ag groups remain engaged in negotiations on SB 27 on behalf of our members. Given the amendments recently accepted by the author, Ag Council took a neutral position on the bill in the Assembly Agriculture Committee and conveyed this position during the July hearing. Some of the crucial issues addressed in the bill include the following:
1) Removing an assessment on producers from the bill
2) Significantly lowering the fines for violations
3) Ensuring that medically important antibiotics can be used to prevent disease or infection
4) The monitoring program is voluntary, not mandatory
5) Requiring that the monitoring program be developed in coordination with the federal government while ensuring it is compatible, not duplicative, of federal efforts and
6) Any information/data provided under SB 27 shall be held confidential and not disclosed unless aggregated to prevent the identification of a farm or business.

The Senate approved SB 27, and it awaits consideration in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Energy


SB 350 – Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act
Position: Opposed

Ag Council opposes SB 350 by Senator de Leon (D-Los Angeles). SB 350 mandates a 50 percent reduction in the use of petroleum-based fuels, requires a 50 percent reduction in energy use in existing buildings, and dictates a 50 percent increase in power generation from renewable energy sources – all by 2030. SB 350 is costly and threatens energy affordability.

The bill passed the Senate and recently Ag Council opposed the measure during a hearing in the Committee on Natural Resources. It is now pending in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Climate Change

SB 32 – Greenhouse gas emissions
Position: Opposed 

SB 32 by Senator Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This bill goes too far. Instead, the Legislature should conduct oversight and review what has worked within the current cap and trade program to better understand how to move forward and where improvements can be made. The Senate approved SB 32, and it will soon be reviewed by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

In late April, Governor Brown issued an executive order establishing an aggressive target for California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. The Governor views this action as an interim step toward later attaining an 80 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050.

Excavation

SB 119 – Excavations/811-Call Before You Dig
Position: Working with the author of the bill

SB 119 establishes enforcement provisions relating to excavation violations under the 811-Call Before You Dig program. The bill is authored by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo). Because SB 119 deals with digging in the soil, Ag Council and others in the ag community continue to work with Senator Hill on the best approach to achieve the goals of SB 119 to protect subsurface installations.

SB 119 passed the Senate and it awaits action in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

July 10, 2015


Bill to Increase Minimum Wage Passes Assembly Committee

California State Capitol

California State Capitol

During a lively Assembly Labor and Employment Committee hearing on July 8, SB 3 was approved out of the committee. SB 3, by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), raises the minimum wage to $11 per hour in January 2016 and increases it to $13 per hour beginning July 2017. SB 3 then raises minimum wage according to inflation in subsequent years.

Ag Council and numerous other ag and business groups are advocating against this measure given that SB 3 imposes more costs onto the business community in California and limits job growth. California’s minimum wage is currently $9 per hour and will be raised to $10 in January 2016 under the existing law passed by the Legislature in 2013.

The debate in committee took a dramatic turn when Chair Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) cut-off a witness from speaking and then did not allow Vice-Chair Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) to speak after he had been recognized. Chair Hernandez physically reached over to turn off Assemblyman Harper’s microphone during the hearing and then asked Capitol security to remove the microphone from the dais. To watch a video clip of the incident, click HERE.

ACTION ITEM – OPPOSE SB 3


SB 3 passed the Senate and continues to move through the Assembly legislative process. To express your opposition to SB 3 to your Assembly representative, click HERE.

Bill Gutted & Amended to Publicly Shame Commercial & Industrial Water & Energy Use

AB 1520 was recently amended from a civil rights bill to a bill requiring public disclosure of commercial, industrial and institutional water and energy usage. The bill essentially shames manufacturers, food processors and others for their water and energy usage by making the information public.

AB 1520 is a Judiciary Committee bill where Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) is the chair. Ag Council and other ag and business groups are strongly opposing the bill, which will be considered in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on July 14. To read a copy of the opposition letter, click HERE.

“Call Before You Dig” Legislation Moves Through Committee

SB 119 establishes enforcement provisions relating to excavation violations under the 811-Call Before You Dig program. The bill is authored by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo). Ag Council continues to participate in conversations to develop amendments to SB 119, along with others in the ag community, to address the unique nature of agriculture. Our work is focused on limiting the circumstances around which farmers must call 811.

SB 119 was approved out of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee on July 6 and is under consideration in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on July 13.

Air Resources Board Approves Rice Cultivation Carbon Offset Protocol

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) approved a new protocol for rice growers in late June, which represents the first ever carbon offset protocol for crop-based agriculture in a compliance market. This means rice growers who implement conservation practices to reduce methane emissions can create and sell a greenhouse gas (GHG) credit, commonly referred to as a “carbon credit.” Regulated California companies needing to reduce their emissions under California’s cap-and-trade program can now buy rice growers’ carbon credits.

This voluntary rice GHG protocol includes two practices:
 1) Dry seeding — A seeding technique that delays the on-set of continuous flooding at the beginning of the growing season.
2) Early drainage — Draining water from rice fields at the end of the growing season earlier than traditional rice cultivation practices.

Detailed information related to ARB’s action is available HERE.

Notice of Funding Availability – Prop 1B Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program

In light of regulations coming out over the next several years pushing the freight sector toward zero and near-zero emissions, the Air Resources Board (ARB) is incentivizing the use of new technologies, such as charging infrastructure and electric and fuel cell equipment, by making funds available through the Prop 1B Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program.

Ag Council encourages our members to seriously consider applying for this program to obtain funds to install advanced technologies and proactively get ahead of regulations. The notice of funding availability is posted on ARB’s website HERE.

July 2, 2015


Senate Rules Committee Confirms Felicia Marcus as State Water Board Chair

Felicia Marcus speaks at Ag Council's Annual Meeting in March 2015.

Felicia Marcus speaks at Ag Council’s Annual Meeting in March 2015.

On July 1, the Senate Rules Committee voted to confirm Governor Jerry Brown’s reappointment of Felicia Marcus as chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. A vote by the full Senate is expected to occur within the next few weeks.

Ag Council spoke in favor of Ms. Marcus’ reappointment during the Rules Committee hearing given that she strives to achieve a balanced approach while weighing diverse and often competing interests at the Board. With the severe drought, the Board continues to face enormous challenges, and Ms. Marcus has met with Ag Council members, hears us out regarding critical issues and takes our views into account. Though we may not always agree, we value this level of engagement.

Ms. Marcus has served as chair of the Board since 2012. Confirmation by the full Senate-anticipated in the coming weeks-will reappoint her to this position for another four-year term.

Bill Addressing Antibiotics Use in Livestock & Poultry Passes Assembly Ag Committee

On July 1, the Assembly Agriculture Committee approved SB 27, a measure by Senator Hill (D-San Mateo) to restrict antibiotics use in livestock and poultry. Beginning January 2018, the bill prohibits the administration of medically important antibiotics to livestock unless ordered by a veterinarian through a prescription or via a veterinary feed directive. SB 27 also prohibits the administration of a medically important antibiotic to livestock solely to cause increased weight gain or to improve feed efficiency.

Ag Council and other ag groups have been engaged in negotiations on SB 27 on behalf of our members over the past several months to address our issues. Given the recent amendments accepted by the author, Ag Council took a neutral position on the bill in the Assembly Agriculture Committee and conveyed this position during the July 1 hearing.

Some of the crucial issues addressed in the bill include the following:

1) Removing an assessment on producers from the bill
2) Significantly lowering the fines for violations
3) Ensuring that medically important antibiotics can be used to prevent disease or infection
4) The monitoring program is voluntary, not mandatory
5) Requiring that the monitoring program be developed in coordination with the federal government while ensuring it is compatible, not duplicative, of federal efforts and
6) Any information/data provided under SB 27 shall be held confidential. In addition, SB 27 does not allow disclosure of such information unless the data is aggregated to prevent the identification of a farm or business.

SB 27 now moves to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations for consideration, and Ag Council remains involved in the discussions regarding the bill.

CoBank Releases Drought Report

Ag Council member, CoBank, released a report in late June entitled “California Drought in 2015 and its Economic Impact on Agriculture.” To read the detailed report, which includes regional information and impacts to various crops and commodities, click HERE.

The report’s findings include the following drought impacts:

• The economic impact of the drought on agriculture resulted in $1.5 billion in lost revenue in 2014
• 2015 projected lost revenue is between $1.8 billion and $2 billion
• 2012-2014 is the driest three-year period on record for statewide precipitation
• Farmers are expected to fallow 30 percent more farmland this year than in 2014, amounting to about 550,000 to 600,000 acres in 2015