in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

August 25, 2017

Assembly Republicans Select Dahle as their New Leader

Brian DahleUpon returning from their summer recess this week, the Assembly Republican Caucus chose Assemblyman Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) as the new GOP leader replacing Assemblyman Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley). Dahle takes over as leader after September 15, once the legislative session concludes.

Mayes came under fire by some conservative Republicans recently after supporting a bill to extend the cap and trade program along with seven other Republicans in the Legislature.

Mayes gave Dahle praise after Assembly Republicans chose Dahle as the new GOP leader on Thursday. “His heart and his character and the vision that he has is symbiotic with what I believe as well and so he’ll do a fantastic job,” Mayes said.

Dahle is a farmer and small business owner representing Mt. Shasta, Quincy, Redding, Susanville, Truckee and other North State towns. He is well-liked by his colleagues and has positive relationships with Democrats in the Legislature.

Cal/OSHA Releases Draft Indoor Heat Stress Regulation

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) recently released a draft indoor heat stress proposal. Ag Council is weighing-in with serious concerns about the proposal during the public participation process and the impact on agriculture, including warehouses and processing facilities. In particular, the proposal is unnecessarily prescriptive, going much further than the outdoor heat illness prevention regulation.

Currently, the draft proposal requires employers to establish, implement and maintain an effective indoor heat illness prevention plan including pre-shift meetings to review high heat procedures and effective emergency response strategies. Stipulations include:

• Identify each employee’s work activity levels, clothing adjustment factors and make personal protective equipment available
• Conduct heat stress hazard assessment of all facilities
• Provide cool-down rest periods of no less than 5 minutes
• Reduce employee exposures to heat stress
• Provide access to potable drinking water

Ag Council strongly believes the proposed standard is not warranted or justified in the agricultural industry, is overly cumbersome and complicated, as well as too costly to implement. Ag Council joined other organizations in submitting written comments outlining our objections and making recommendations for changes to the proposal.

Click HERE to read the coalition’s letter to Cal/OSHA.

Chlorpyrifos Targeted for Additional Restrictions

The California Environmental Protection Agency announced that both the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) are pursuing health protections on chlorpyrifos.

Chlorpyrifos is a critical part of pest management programs for farmers and is used on more than 60 crops including tree nuts, grapes and citrus.

OEHHA referred chlorpyrifos for potential listing as a developmental toxicant under Proposition 65. Meanwhile, DPR updated a risk assessment for chlorpyrifos and announced its intention to place interim additional restrictions on the product.

DPR believes chlorpyrifos may pose a public health risk based upon the latest studies in the scientific community. However, the new findings have not yet been peer reviewed. A public process is underway, including a comment period, and is expected to conclude late in 2018.

Ag Council is engaging in the public process to advocate for the safe and continued use of this critical crop protection tool.

For more information, click HERE. If you have any questions, please contact Rachael O’Brien at ph. (916) 443-4887 or Rachael@agcouncil.org

Healthy Soils Grant Funding Available for Projects

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting applications for project through the Healthy Soils Program (HSP). The two components of the program are: 1) the HSP Incentives Program and 2) the HSP Demonstration Projects.

For the HSP Incentives Program, an estimated $3.75 million in competitive grant funding will be awarded to provide financial assistance for implementation of agricultural management practices that sequester soil carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible practices as defined by CDFA include the use of cover crops, mulching, compost application, hedgerow planting and reduced or no-till techniques.

For the HSP Demonstration Projects, approximately $3 million in competitive grant funding will be awarded to demonstration projects, which focus on quantifying, monitoring and educating others on healthy soils management projects that sequester soil carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Applications are due by September 19, 2017. Click HERE for further information on CDFA’s website.

August 2, 2017

Rich Hudgins with the California Canning Peach Association speaking to KCRA news. See the links below to view the video clips and media coverage.

Rich Hudgins with the California Canning Peach Association speaking to KCRA news. See the links below to view the video clips and media coverage.

State Audit Initiated by Ag Council Finds California is not Ensuring Compliance with the Buy American Requirement for School Lunches

The California Department of Education (CDE) has not ensured that schools comply with the Buy American requirement for school food purchases, according to a report by the California State Auditor released on July 27.

The audit, initiated by Ag Council and championed by Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Sacramento) through the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, reveals CDE is collecting insufficient evidence to support compliance. Also, CDE is not publishing the results of any of its 146 reviews online, as required.

In a review of six California school districts, the audit shows that not one of the six districts has adequate policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement. The audit further discloses that all six districts had purchased foreign-sourced food and such purchases were not sufficiently documented.

The audit demonstrates the need for SB 730—legislation sponsored by Ag Council and authored by Dr. Pan (D-Sacramento)—to establish steps for CDE to monitor compliance with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs. SB 730 will improve local farm to fork food options for school children. The bill passed the Senate and is currently awaiting consideration in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

As background, the Buy American provision requires schools under the jurisdiction of the CDE that participate in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program to purchase domestically grown and processed foods to the maximum extent practicable.

Buy American audit report garners media coverage throughout the state

  • For a KCRA news video clip about the audit – featuring Ag Council board member Rich Hudgins with the California Canning Peach Association – click HERE
  • Associated Press news article – click HERE
  • Los Angeles KABC video – click HERE
To read a summary of the audit report, click HERE.

Proposed Changes to Peak Electricity Periods Affecting Agriculture

California’s three major utilities – San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and Southern California Edison – are overhauling the way consumers pay for electricity. The approach, called time-of-use (TOU) electricity pricing, makes electricity more expensive during anticipated periods of high demand when the electric grid is stressed and electricity is more expensive.

Ag Council will be weighing-in with concerns regarding the TOU changes during an upcoming public participation process since agricultural operations are sensitive to TOU peak periods. For example, electric pumping units used in the irrigation of crops have been designed and engineered around the current off-peak hours and any changes to the peak periods would require affected farmers to make changes to their pumping units.

Currently, the highest-cost peak periods have generally been from noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays with lower rates during weekends and holidays. With the onset of large solar facilities generating considerable amounts of electricity during the afternoon, utilities have proposed shifting TOU periods.

Under PG&E’s proposal, the peak use period would be pushed back to begin at 5 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. each day, both summer and winter. “Partial peak” rates would be charged between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and again between 10 p.m. and midnight during the summer. All remaining hours would be considered off-peak. The utility’s summer rates would be charged from June through September. Currently, the rates run from May through October.

The utilities are finalizing rate options and outreach plans before switching customers to TOU rates beginning in 2019. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and PG&E scheduled two public participation hearings on the proposal in mid-August. We encourage impacted Ag Council members to attend one of the hearings to express concerns about rising rates and convey any implications a new peak period would have on operations. Hearings will be held in the following locations and please click on the links for further details:

• Aug. 14 in Bakersfield – click HERE for information about the location and time
• Aug. 15 in Stockton – click HERE for details regarding the location and time

Ag Council staff will attend the Stockton hearing and will also provide written comments to the CPUC on behalf of our members. For more information about this issue, click HERE.