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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

June 24, 2016


Clockwise from top: Photo 1: Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), second from the left, celebrates Ntl. Dairy Month with our Land O'Lakes members Joey Fernandes, Pete Garbani & Ben Curti. Photo 2: Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) enjoys ice cream during Dairyfest. Photo 3: Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) connects with Land O'Lakes producer Ben Curti & Dairy Farmers of America producer Case Van Steyn at Dairyfest.


Clockwise from top: Photo 1: Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), second from the left, celebrates Ntl. Dairy Month with our Land O’Lakes members Joey Fernandes, Pete Garbani & Ben Curti. Photo 2: Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) enjoys ice cream during Dairyfest. Photo 3: Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) connects with Land O’Lakes producer Ben Curti & Dairy Farmers of America producer Case Van Steyn at Dairyfest.

3rd Annual Dairyfest Draws Hundreds

Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) and Sara Floor from Dairy Council of California at Dairyfest.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) and Sara Floor from Dairy Council of California at Dairyfest.

Over 270 guests joined Ag Council’s dairy members for the 3rd Annual Dairyfest celebrating California dairy producers and recognizing June as Dairy Month. The ice cream social is a festive way for Ag Council’s dairy members to connect with legislators and staff during Dairy Month.

The fun outreach event at the State Capitol emphasizes the importance of the dairy industry in California and highlights the positive economic impact of dairy in our state.

Dairyfest is sponsored by Ag Council members: California Dairies Inc., Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes. Ag Council’s new allied member, Western United Dairymen, also attended Dairyfest.

Ag Council appreciates the volunteer help provided by a group of high school students in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program from Elk Grove High School, Lodi High School, and Tracy High School who spent the afternoon volunteering at Dairyfest by helping to set up the room and serve ice cream. Two dairy princesses from Escalon and Linden, who help represent the industry at various functions, were also in attendance and helped greet attendees.

Thank you to our dairy members and volunteers who helped make Dairyfest a successful outreach event.

Take Action – Oppose the Gut & Amend Bill to Change Ag Overtime Requirements

With the state bill to change overtime requirements for agricultural workers returning as a gut and amend measure in the form of AB 1066, Ag Council urges members to reach out to legislators NOW by using the link below.

The previous bill opposed by Ag Council and others, FAILED in the Assembly. The new bill, AB 1066, is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on June 29.

The gut and amend bill, AB 1066, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), repeals the current overtime wage requirement in California for agricultural workers, which pays overtime after 10 hours of work in a day and 60 hours in a week, and phases in a new overtime wage law culminating in a requirement to pay overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2022.

TAKE ACTION — Click the HERE to join Ag Council in opposing AB 1066 by emailing a letter to your legislators via our Action Center.

CDFA Accepting SWEEP Grant Applications

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently announced it is accepting grant applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). This competitive grant program provides funding to implement irrigation systems that save water and lower greenhouse gasses on agricultural operations.

Funding for SWEEP derives from the state Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which administers the proceeds from the cap and trade auction.

For the 2016 SWEEP application guidelines and frequently asked questions, click HERE. The deadline to apply is August 5, 2016.

June 16, 2016


Ag Overtime Revived as a Gut & Amend Bill

405767101The ag overtime wage measure has returned as a gut and amend bill, AB 1066, in the California State Legislature. AB 1066 has the same author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), as the previous measure that failed in the Assembly. AB 1066 is pending in the Senate and will be referred to a policy committee for consideration at a later date.

We oppose this effort to revive the ag overtime measure via a gut and amend bill. The ag community, including Ag Council, our members, and many ag and other partner organizations worked together to build the needed bipartisan opposition to the ag overtime bill, and it failed passage in the Assembly on June 2, 2016.

By gutting and amending a bill in the Senate, Assemblywoman Gonzalez is able to resuscitate the legislation. In a gut and amend bill, a measure is amended to remove the current text in its entirety, and the bill language is completely replaced with new text. In this instance, Assemblywoman Gonzalez amended an education bill pending in the Senate and replaced the language with the ag overtime text. This type of action is common as the Legislature nears the end of the legislative session in August and pressure builds to move bills.

As background, AB 1066 would repeal the current overtime wage law in California for agricultural workers, which pays overtime after 10 hours and 60 hours in a week, and phase in a new overtime pay law for agricultural workers culminating in a requirement to pay overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by 2022. The bill is sponsored by the United Farm Workers.

The changes to ag overtime proposed in AB 1066 would be imposed on top of the $15 minimum wage law passed by the Legislature and signed into law this year. When combined, these changes place significant economic pressure on agricultural and rural areas in our state. AB 1066 adds another regulatory burden onto California agriculture, makes it difficult to remain competitive against other states and nations by increasing production and labor costs, and may result in shorter shifts for workers leading to lower take home pay.

Ag Council will keep you apprised of this issue as we continue our efforts to oppose the bill in the Legislature.

June 10, 2016


Gov. Jerry Brown - photo courtesy of The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown – photo courtesy of The Sacramento Bee

 

Gov. Brown & Legislative Leaders Reach Budget Deal

Last night, Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders struck a $122 billion General Fund budget deal for the 2016-2017 state budget year. It includes, among other funding: $2 billion more than required for the state’s rainy day fund, $400 million for low-income housing subsidies, $100 million in increased funding for preschool and childcare providers to assist in paying their employees the rising state minimum wage, and ends a state rule preventing mothers from receiving additional funding if they have another child while on welfare.

Decisions regarding funding from the cap and trade program revenues for agricultural efforts such as SWEEP, a grant program to incentivize energy efficient irrigation technologies that reduce greenhouse gases, and funding for dairy digesters to reduce methane, were not resolved by the budget conference committee this week. This funding will be decided upon at a later date.

A vote on the budget is anticipated next week given that legislators are required to pass a state budget and send it to the governor by June 15. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

June Primary Election Analysis

Since California adopted the “top two” primary system–where the top two candidates receiving the most votes regardless of their political party proceed to the general election in November— elections have become more unpredictable and that is evidenced in this week’s primary. With a greater number of candidates challenging incumbents, an increase in the number of same-party opponents, as well as higher levels of outside campaign spending in the form of independent expenditures, there is more uncertainty in the outcomes of elections in California.

In the June primary, this uncertainty combined with another factor. Californians registered to vote in record numbers, over 17.9 million people, prior to the June 7 primary election according to the California Secretary of State. “In the 45 days leading up to the voter registration deadline, there was a huge surge in voter registration—total statewide voter registration increased by nearly 650,000,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.

Interestingly, though 72 percent of eligible California citizens registered to vote, only about 33 percent of registered voters actually voted on June 7. This means about 5.9 million California voters cast ballots out of the 17.9 million registered voters.

A myriad of reasons may have caused the lower than expected voter turnout including the lack of a competitive Republican presidential race on the GOP side, and for Democrats, possibly because the media announced–one day before the California primary–that Secretary Hillary Clinton had secured enough super delegates to become the presumptive Democrat nominee. It seems Californians registered in high numbers because they were excited about the prospect of possibly being able to influence the presidential election. In the end, however, that was not our fate and this may have kept voters from the polls.

In any case, the turnout impacted the outcome in some of the most watched races and the unpredictability brought on by the “top two” primary system is keeping poll watchers on their toes.

Click HERE for an overview of some of the hotly contested state legislative races.

Groundwater Facilitation Support

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced it is offering in-kind facilitation support for the formation of groundwater sustainability agencies and for those developing groundwater sustainability plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGMA).

The program links water management groups with professional facilitators to help local entities meet SGMA requirements. Services include strategic planning, stakeholder assessments, meeting facilitation, mediation, governance assessment, and public outreach services.

Click HERE for details about eligibility and other requirements on DWR’s website.

Ag Council Weighs-In Regarding Proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) released its proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant SLCP Reduction Strategy in April, which aims to reduce emissions by creating arbitrary goals and mandates on businesses in California. Ag Council provided written comments to ARB on May 26 and has been highly involved in this process by attending hearings, holding meetings and organizing a tour with regulatory staff, as well as submitting comments to urge ARB to address our members’ concerns.

As ARB continues to work on finalizing a strategy, Ag Council continues to drive home the message that the emission reduction targets are too aggressive, the plan lacks sufficient incentive funding and more research is needed to determine the viability of the various technologies for reducing emissions and also assess the costs and benefits.

Click HERE to read Ag Council’s detailed comments on the SLCP Reduction Strategy.