in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

February 26, 2016

Paul Martin to be Honored with California Cultivator Award


Paul Martin, Ag Council’s 2016 California Cultivator Award recipient

Paul Martin, a lifelong dairy producer and champion of agriculture, will be honored with Ag Council’s 2016 California Cultivator Award at a lunch held during Ag Council’s Annual Meeting at the Meritage Resort in Napa on March 8, 2016.

“Paul received enthusiastic nominations because of his reputation for stepping up to the plate,” said Emily Rooney, president of Ag Council. “His work with Western United Dairymen (WUD), first as director of environmental services for 13 years, and then as interim CEO in 2015, characterized his reputation as someone who creates collaboration among stakeholders. He helped guide the California dairy industry through several challenges related to environmental regulation during his tenure at WUD to create workable solutions for producers and regulators.”

Martin was an owner-operator of Paul and Jill Martin Dairy for 30 years before he became director of environmental services for WUD in 1999. He held that position for 13 years before being appointed to Governor Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development from 2012 to 2014. Martin’s leadership skills were again called upon by Western United Dairymen to serve as interim CEO in 2015.

“Mr. Martin is the true embodiment of agricultural leadership, so much so that he has had to ‘retire’ three times, since his capabilities are so in demand,” wrote Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross in her letter of support for Martin’s nomination for the Cultivator Award. “He has served the agricultural industry for so many years as an effective leader who has developed effective partnerships addressing environmental concerns of air and water quality. At times of crisis or extreme challenges, Mr. Martin is a level-headed leader, always thoughtful and proactive.”

This special award is given to individuals who clearly have made significant contributions to agriculture, or have demonstrated leadership and personal commitment to the industry. These contributions can be in areas such as proven leadership and dedication, innovation and/or environmental stewardship.

For more information about Ag Council’s Annual Meeting March 7-9, 2016 in Napa, where Paul Martin will be honored, please contact Jennifer Johnson at jennifer@agcouncil.org.

Bill Proposes New Ag Overtime Wage Requirements

321626901Ag Council opposes a bill recently submitted in the California State Legislature to establish new overtime wage requirements for agricultural workers.

AB 2757 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) repeals the current overtime wage law in California for agricultural workers, which pays overtime after 10 hours, and phases in a new overtime wage law for agricultural workers over the course of four years culminating in a requirement to pay overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2020.

California law already requires overtime pay for agricultural workers after 10 hours in one day, which recognizes the flexibility that farmers and employees need given the variable nature and seasonality of farming. Our state is only one of four in the nation to provide overtime for agricultural workers.

AB 2757 adds an unnecessary regulatory burden onto agriculture and makes it difficult to remain competitive. A hearing has not yet been scheduled for the bill.

TAKE ACTION – Please join Ag Council in opposing AB 2757 by clicking the link HERE to send an opposition letter to your state legislator.

Draft Groundwater Regulations Released

321998601The Department of Water Resources (DWR) released draft groundwater regulations on February 19 to guide local agencies and Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in the management of groundwater basins as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014. Ag Council is reviewing the regulations and will be submitting comments to DWR in March.

Per SGMA, local control remains the focus. As the DWR program manager for the groundwater sustainability program, David Gutierrez, told Ag Council members during a meeting at the World Ag Expo recently in Tulare, “Groundwater is best managed at the local level.” The locals “should be in the driver’s seat and will make the new law successful.”

To read more about the draft regulations, click HERE.

February 17, 2016

Fifth Annual World Ag Expo Breakfast a Success

David Gutierrez - Department of Water Resources

David Gutierrez – Department of Water Resources

Nearly 70 members and friends joined Ag Council at the Fifth Annual World Ag Expo Breakfast in Tulare on February 10. Attendees heard from keynote speakers David Gutierrez, program manager for the sustainable groundwater program at the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres).

Gutierrez spoke about the strategic plan that DWR developed to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which was approved by the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown in 2014. Gutierrez said we must “replenish the groundwater just like surface water. If we don’t, then bad things start to happen. The ground is settling a foot a year and this impacts infrastructure.”

Local control remains the focus. Gutierrez said, “Groundwater is best managed at the local level.” The locals “should be in the driver’s seat and will make the new law successful.”

Ag Council participates in the ag stakeholder advisory group advising DWR as it develops regulations, and we will continue to keep our members apprised as the process moves forward.

Senator Cannella, who is the Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and the Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing, talked about how transportation infrastructure in the state has been neglected for many years and there is now a $60 billion problem within the highway system alone. He said existing fees must go toward transportation purposes and not to pay for state debt, as is currently the case with weight fees.

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)

On water storage, Cannella discussed the $2.7 billion in funding for storage projects in the water bond. He said that projects awarded funding must be comprehensive and have public benefits. Cannella was active in the effort to secure storage funding during the development of the water bond in the Legislature, and we thank him for his work. The regulatory process for the water bond is underway at the California Water Commission (CWC), and the CWC has developed proposed regulations providing a framework for storage project requirements that are now under public review.

Regarding water allocations, Cannella said the State Water Project allocations, presently at 15 percent, are too low. Environmental laws and regulations have proven to be challenging and impact the allocations. Cannella said he is committed to pursuing more commonsense policies at the state level.

A special thank you to Senator Cannella and David Gutierrez from DWR for speaking with our members at the World Ag Expo breakfast. We also appreciate the members and friends who attended the event to help make it successful.

This week…

Bill Deadline
The bill introduction deadline in the California State Legislature is February 19, and we expect numerous measures to be submitted by legislators to meet the deadline this Friday. Hearings on the newly introduced bills begin in March.

Health Care Funding
The Legislature is holding hearings this week regarding access to health care for Medi-Cal recipients, in addition to the restoration of funding for the developmentally disabled community. Governor Brown has pressed these issues as priorities, and he called the Legislature into a special session – which is still ongoing – to address health care spending and overall financing for Medi-Cal, among other issues.

Governor Brown Signs Clean Energy Accord
Governor Brown signed the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future along with 17 bipartisan governors on February 16. The accord is a commitment by the governors to pursue clean energy and transportation solutions, as well as modern electric grids.

Governor Brown said, “With the agreement, governors from both parties have joined together and committed themselves to a clean energy future.” He continued, “Our goal is to clean up the air and protect our natural resources.”

Click HERE to read more about the bipartisan clean energy accord.

97th Annual Meeting Speakers

We are excited to have a great line-up of speakers at Ag Council’s upcoming 97th Annual Meeting in Napa March 7-9, 2016. If you have not yet registered, or for more information, click HERE.

Annual Dinner Speakers
Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), the new co-chairs of the moderate Democrats (Mod Dems) caucus in the Legislature, will headline as speakers during our annual dinner on March 7. Assemblyman Bill Dodd (D-Napa), a member of the Mod Dems who represents the area where the annual meeting is being held, also plans to attend the dinner.

General Session Speakers
– Secretary Karen Ross – California Department of Food and Agriculture
– David Orth – member of the California Water Commission
– Doug Heye – leading Republican communications specialist
– Tracy Sefl – nationally recognized Democrat communications specialist