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in the KNOWN

In the Know Newsletter

October 27, 2017


Almond

Urge Congress to Protect a Key Tax Deduction During Consideration of the Tax Reform Proposal

As Congress considers tax reform, it is crucial that members of farmer-owned cooperatives weigh-in regarding the proposed elimination of the Section 199 deduction, which would increase taxes on farmers. Since cooperatives are owned and controlled by farmers and producers, they use the Section 199 deduction differently than other businesses and pass along the vast majority of the benefit to the farmers who own the business.

Rather than elimination, the Section 199 deduction must be protected as it returns close to $2 billion each year to rural areas in the United States with $175 million of the total benefitting those based in California.

With farmers experiencing many challenges, this is certainly not the time for Congress to take any action that would raise taxes on those who produce our food.

Though Ag Council primarily focuses its advocacy work on state policy issues, the eradication of the Section 199 federal tax deduction would have a serious impact on many of our members, so we encourage you to weigh-in via the Learn More link below.

DO NOT DELAY – Your voice is critical at this time. With Congress moving quickly on tax reform, please click HERE to easily send a letter to your representatives in the U.S. Senate and House urging them to oppose the elimination of the Section 199 deduction.

October 17, 2017


State Capitol

State Capitol

Governor Concludes Review of Legislation on His Desk

Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown concluded his review of nearly 1,000 bills for the year in order to meet the October 15 deadline to sign or veto measures passed by the Legislature. In total, 977 bills passed the Legislature and reached the governor’s desk in 2017. Overall, he signed 859 measures and vetoed 118 bills for a veto rate of 12 percent this year.

Please read on for an overview of the measures impacting Ag Council members, our position and the governor’s decision regarding those bills.

Air Quality
AB 617 (C. Garcia)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Signed into law
Requires: 1) ARB to develop community plans to reduce criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminant emissions, 2) impose higher penalties on facilities for air pollution violations and 3) regular upgrades to emissions-related equipment, among other provisions.

Buy American Requirement
SB 730 (Pan)     Position: SUPPORT     Status: Signed into law
Establishes steps for California to monitor compliance with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs. SB 730 helps ensure school children consume food of the highest quality and safety, supports locally grown products and benefits our economy.

Buy Californian
AB 822 (Caballero)     Position: SUPPORT     Status: Signed into law
Requires state-owned or operated entities, excluding public universities, colleges and school districts, to buy California agricultural products if the bid is no more than 5 percent higher than a similar bid from out of state. School districts must accept the California bid if it does not exceed the lowest out-of-state bid.

Cap and Trade Auction Revenue Expenditures
AB 109 & AB 134     Position: SUPPORT     Status: Signed into law
Allocates approximately $1.5 billion in expenditures generated from cap and trade auction revenues, including $300 million in funding for agriculture. The funds for agriculture allow agriculture to utilize cap and trade dollars to reduce greenhouse gases at food processing facilities and dairies, as well as lower emissions from mobile sources, such as tractors and harvesting equipment.

Cap and Trade Program Extension
AB 398 (E. Garcia)     Position: SUPPORT     Status: Signed into law
Extends the cap and trade program through 2030 by a two-thirds vote. The bill includes critical cost containment provisions for food processors participating in the cap and trade program, and the program is the most cost-effective way to meet the ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements already in place under California law.

Food & Beverages
AB 841 (Weber)     Position: NEUTRAL     Status: Signed into law
Restricts foods and beverages sold in schools during the school day by prohibiting certain advertising, including logos and company names, unless the food meets school nutrition standards. The measure also prevents schools from participating in a corporate incentive program that rewards pupils with free or discounted foods or beverages that do not comply with nutrition standards when students reach specific academic goals. With amendments adopted to limit the scope of AB 841, Ag Council removed opposition to AB 841.

Housing
Multiple Bills     Position: No position     Status: Signed into law
Affordable housing package includes, among other measures: 1) SB 2 (Atkins) a $75 fee on real estate transactions to go toward affordable housing, 2) SB 3 (Beall) a $4 billion housing bond to be placed on the November 2018 ballot to fund housing assistance programs, and 3) SB 35 (Wiener) to streamline the approval process for new housing of all types by eliminating environmental and planning reviews for some projects.

Immigration
SB 54 (De Leon)     Position: No position     Status: Signed into law
Prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using funding or personnel resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest people for immigration purposes with certain exceptions. The bill was amended prior to passage to expand the list of crimes to roughly 800 offenses for which law enforcement can notify and transfer a person to immigration authorities.

Labor
SB 63 (Jackson)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Signed into law
Mandates a new maternity/paternity leave policy on businesses and exposes businesses to litigation. SB 63 allows those working for a business with 20 more employees within a 75-mile radius, who meet specific criteria, to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child. SB 63 subjects employers to more liability.

AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Vetoed
Imposes a data collection requirement onto employers to collect and report data to the state pertaining to the mean and median salaries of men and women with the same job. AB 1209 requires the information then be publicly posted onto a website. The purpose of this measure is to publicly shame employers for wage disparities.

AB 450 (Chiu)     Position: No position     Status: Signed into law
Prohibits an employer from providing a federal immigration enforcement agent access to a worksite without a properly executed warrant, with limited exceptions, and prohibits employers from voluntarily consenting to an immigration enforcement agent to review or obtain employee records without a subpoena or court order. Ag Council moved from opposition to “no position” once the author removed punitive civil liability language against employers from the bill and eliminated the provision requiring employers to notify the Labor Commission of a federal immigration worksite enforcement action.

Water
SB 623 (Monning)     Position: SUPPORT     Status: Two-year bill
Establishes the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund within the State Water Resources Control Board to assist those without access to safe and affordable drinking water through grants, loans, contracts or services. Given a solution for disadvantaged communities is needed to help ensure families have clean drinking water, including rural and agricultural areas, Ag Council participated in stakeholder discussions to address drinking water issues and helped develop SB 623. This measure continues to be a priority for Ag Council as we move into 2018.

AB 313 (Gray)     Position: SUPPORT     Status: Vetoed
Restructures the administration and enforcement of water rights at the State Water Resources Control Board in order to bring more accountability and transparency to California’s water management structure. AB 313 creates a new Water Rights Division where an administrative law judge would preside over water rights matters to improve objectivity. The Division would conduct hearings and make recommendations to the board, which the board could accept, reject or modify.

SB 252 (Dodd)     Position: NEUTRAL     Status: Signed into law
Adds new requirements onto well applicants located in critically overdrafted basins. After extensive lobbying by a coalition of ag groups, the following provisions were eliminated: 1) the requirement for well applicants to notify all adjacent landowners of the intent to obtain a new well permit and 2) the mandate that a public meeting be held before a new well permit could be issued. SB 252 still requires well applicants to provide: a map of the location of the well, the proposed capacity and estimated pumping rate for the well, anticipated pumping schedule and an estimated annual extraction volume.

SB 5 (De Leon)     Position: No position     Status: Signed into law
$4 billion water and parks bond measure subject to voter approval on the June 2018 ballot. SB 5 seeks to address the backlog of maintenance in California’s 280-unit park system and emphasizes funding for park-poor areas and disadvantaged communities. SB 5 also contains $18 million for county fairgrounds, $20 million for the Statewide Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), and $10 million for the healthy soils program. The measure contains some funds for safe drinking water at $250 million and $130 million for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) implementation.

OPPOSED BILLS THAT STALLED IN 2017 – COULD BE CONSIDERED AGAIN IN 2018

Energy
SB 100 (De Leon)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Stalled
Creates a new 100 percent renewable target for the California electric grid to be attained by December 2045. Ag Council is concerned a new renewable generation mandate will lead to electric rate cost impacts for our members. It is not known whether the renewable targets in SB 100 could be reached without rate increases that significantly impact agriculture and food processing.

Environment
SB 49 (De Leon)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Stalled
Establishes that existing federal air, climate, water, labor, and endangered species regulations are enforceable under state law. The bill would maintain current regulations despite any future changes by President Donald Trump. SB 49 requires specific state agencies to enforce California standards to be as stringent as the baseline today to protect against any weakening by the federal government.

AB 975 (Friedman)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Stalled
Makes it easier to designate Wild and Scenic areas and adds further land use restrictions in California where streams and rivers are already protected by multiple state and federal agencies that monitor and regulate activities near streams and rivers. The bill expands the areas that could be designated as Wild and Scenic from adjacent to a river to one-quarter mile on either side of the river and expands the types of areas that could be considered Wild and Scenic. AB 975 could potentially adversely impact water rights, water supply and future water operations.

Health Care
SB 562 (Lara)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Stalled
Creates a universal, single payer health care system, which results in higher taxes and unsustainable costs. A fiscal analysis states the cost will be $400 billion per year to cover all health care and administrative costs, with half of that coming from existing federal, state and local taxes. The other $200 billion would have to derive from new taxes. One potential method being discussed to cover this enormous cost is a payroll tax on employers with a rate of 15 percent of earned income.

Occupational Health & Safety
SB 772 (Leyva)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Stalled
Exempts Cal/OSHA from Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment (SRIA) because proponents of the bill believe the process is duplicative and hinders workplace safety. Currently, California law requires state agencies, such as Cal/OSHA, to conduct a SRIA when a proposed regulation results in an economic impact of $50 million or more. SRIA helps to fully analyze a proposed rule’s economic impact and promotes efficiency. SB 772 reduces accountability and leads to less transparency.

Pesticides
SB 602 (Allen)     Position: OPPOSE     Status: Stalled
Requires the labeling of seeds and plants treated with neonicotinoids (neonics). The bill is unwarranted, not based in science and threatens agriculture given that neonics are used to fight pests that transmit serious diseases endangering agricultural commodities (e.g. Asian citrus psyllid). The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is responsible for the risk assessment and risk management of registered pesticides. DPR will mitigate risks through appropriate label or use restrictions, if such actions are scientifically justified.

* This document is an overview of many of the bills Ag Council was engaged in during 2017. However, it is not a comprehensive list of all measures passed and signed into law in 2017.

 

October 9, 2017


Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Bolster Buy American Compliance for School Lunches

Photo credit: www.usda.gov

Photo credit: www.usda.gov

Governor Jerry Brown took action on October 7 to sign SB 730 into law, a measure sponsored by Agricultural Council of California (Ag Council) and authored by Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), to establish important steps for the California Department of Education (CDE) to comply with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs.

The Buy American provision requires schools that participate in the school lunch and breakfast programs to purchase domestically grown and processed foods to the maximum extent practicable. The food must be produced and processed in the United States with the final processed product consisting of over 51 percent domestic agricultural commodities.

SB 730 is needed given that a July 2017 California State Audit, initiated by Ag Council, reveals California has not ensured that schools comply with the Buy American requirement for school food purchases.

“Our farmers and ranchers meet some of the highest worker protection and environmental standards in the world and produce high quality and healthful food,” said Dr. Pan, who is a pediatrician, as well as a state senator. “Our students deserve to benefit from the quality of American agriculture and California schools should support our farmers.”

California Canning Peach Association President & CEO Rich Hudgins said, “Since state agencies have the responsibility to provide oversight and ensure compliance, SB 730 creates mechanisms for CDE to provide guidance to school food authorities to ensure transparency in school food purchases and strengthen compliance with the provision.”

Ag Council President Emily Rooney, said, “SB 730 helps ensure school children consume safe, high quality food, reinforces locally grown efforts, benefits our economy and supports California farmers who achieve the most ambitious environmental, labor and food safety standards in the nation.”

Ag Council greatly appreciates Governor Brown for signing SB 730 and extends a sincere thanks to Dr. Pan for championing the bill through the Legislature as the author.

October 4, 2017


Legislators Connect with Ag Council Members During Farm and Food Processing Tours

CurryRubio Tour

Asm. Aguiar-Curry & Asm. Rubio with Frank Muller who is Chairman of the Board for Pacific Coast Producers.

Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry & Assemblywoman Rubio Visit a Farm During Harvest & Tour Pacific Coast Producers’ Woodland Facility

With the California State Legislature in adjournment, it is an excellent time of year to host legislators for farm and food processing tours. The site visits ensure that legislators hear firsthand from our members about the crucial policy issues facing agriculture. The positive relationships fostered during such tours are invaluable and result in lasting connections for years to come.

Just a few days after the Legislature’s adjournment, on September 18, Ag Council member Pacific Coast Producers hosted Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio (D-West Covina) on a tour to experience the harvesting of processing tomatoes with the help of Frank Muller of Muller Ranch in Yolo County, who serves as chairman of the board for Pacific Coast Producers. The Muller family has farmed in the Yolo County region for more than 40 years and is one of the 150 family farms that own Pacific Coast Producers.

Muller discussed on-farm sustainability efforts with the legislators, such as soil health and water use, and they watched the harvesting of tomatoes firsthand. In addition, Muller discussed issues with labor availability, noting that his operation offers, to the extent possible, year-round work and above minimum wage rates.  Afterward, Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry and Assemblywoman Rubio visited Pacific Coast Producers’ tomato processing facility in Woodland where an in-depth tour highlighted the cooperative’s work to improve water and energy efficiency, as well as investments made to meet state climate change regulations through the cap and trade program. The tour concluded with a tasting of Pacific Coast Producers’ delicious tomato products, including salsa.

Asm. Grayson with Blue Diamond almond grower Ray Van Beek.

Asm. Grayson with Blue Diamond almond grower Ray Van Beek.

Ag Council thanks Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry and Assemblywoman Rubio for their enthusiasm to learn more about our members and California agriculture. Special thanks to Frank Muller with Muller Ranch, Mona Shulman and the team at Pacific Coast Producers, as well as the California Food Producers who collaborated on the tour.

Assemblyman Grayson Visits Almond and Dairy Members

On September 25, Assemblyman Tim Grayson (D-Concord) met with Ray Van Beek, who is a Blue Diamond almond grower, on his farm in Porterville. They discussed various challenges facing farming in the Southern San Joaquin Valley and had an engaging conversation about water supply, quality and storage. Assemblyman Grayson discussed recent legislative activity that took place prior to the adjournment of the Legislature, including water, climate change and other issues.

Assemblyman Grayson then connected with dairymen and others at Land O’Lakes to learn more about the cooperative and tour the processing facility. The group discussed the history of Land O’Lakes in Tulare and talked about the cap and trade extension measure that passed this year and funding for agriculture in the cap and trade expenditure plan. They also had a frank conversation about the unique labor challenges facing dairy farmers and spoke about water-related issues.

Asm. Grayson (3rd from L) visits Land O'Lakes and connects with Ag Council board member Pete Garbani (2nd from L) and others.

Asm. Grayson (3rd from L) visits Land O’Lakes and connects with Ag Council board member Pete Garbani (2nd from L) and others.

We appreciate Assemblyman Grayson for meeting with Ag Council members and engaging in an open dialogue with the farming and food processing community on issues of critical importance. Thanks to Blue Diamond Growers for coordinating the visit with Ray Van Beek. We also appreciate Land O’Lakes–including Pete Garbani, Joey Fernandes, and Cornell Kasbergen and others–for their participation and assistance with the meeting and tour.

Gov. Brown Nears Deadline to Decide the Fate of Hundreds of Bills

Governor Jerry Brown continues to work his way through the stack of hundreds of bills awaiting their fate on his desk. He has until October 15 to take action and sign or veto bills. Among the measures pending on the governor’s desk are the following bills that Ag Council was engaged in during the legislative session:

Buy American Requirement

SB 730 (Pan) 

Ag Council sponsored SB 730 to establish steps for California to monitor compliance with the federal Buy American provision in school lunch and breakfast programs. SB 730 ensures school children consume food of the highest quality and safety, supports locally grown products and benefits our economy.  Special thanks to Dr. Pan for authoring SB 730 and for his work to move it effectively through the legislative process.

POSITION: Ag Council supports SB 730 and is the sponsor of the bill. STATUS: The measure was approved by the Legislature and is pending Governor Brown’s review.

Labor

SB 63 (Jackson)

This measure mandates a new maternity and paternity leave policy on businesses and exposes businesses to litigation. SB 63 allows those working for a business with 20 more employees within a 75-mile radius, who meet specific criteria, to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child. SB 63 is an inflexible bill that creates a seven month protected leave of absence for certain employees when combined with other leave and subjects employers to more liability.

POSITION: Ag Council opposed SB 63 and is requesting a veto. STATUS: SB 63 passed the Legislature and is awaiting Governor Brown’s review.

AB 450 (Chiu) 

The bill prohibits an employer from providing a federal immigration enforcement agent access to a worksite without a properly executed warrant and prohibits employers from voluntarily consenting to an immigration enforcement agent to review or obtain employee records without a subpoena or court order, with limited exceptions. Ag Council moved from opposition to “no position” once the bill author removed punitive civil liability language against employers from the bill and eliminated the provision requiring employers to notify the Labor Commission of a federal immigration worksite enforcement action.

POSITION: Ag Council and others removed opposition due to amendments to address policy concerns in the bill. STATUS: Approved by the Legislature and pending Governor Brown’s consideration.

AB 1209 (Gonzalez Fletcher)

AB 1209 imposes a data collection requirement onto employers to collect and report data to the state pertaining to the mean and median salaries of men and women with the same job.  The bill requires that the information then be posted onto a public website. The purpose of this measure is to publicly shame employers for wage disparities.

POSITION: Ag Council opposes AB 1209 and is seeking a veto. STATUS: AB 1209 passed the Legislature and is awaiting Governor Brown’s consideration.

Water

AB 313 (Gray) 

The measure restructures the administration and enforcement of water rights at the State Water Resources Control Board in order to bring more accountability and transparency to California’s water management structure. AB 313 creates a new Water Rights Division where an administrative law judge would preside over water rights matters to improve objectivity. The Division would conduct hearings and make a recommendation to the board, which could accept, reject or modify recommendations.

POSITION: Ag Council supports AB 313 and is asking Governor Brown to sign it. STATUS: AB 313 was approved by the Legislature and it awaits Governor Brown’s review.

SB 252 (Dodd)

SB 252 adds new requirements onto well applicants located in critically overdrafted basins, such as: the proposed capacity and estimated pumping rate for the well, anticipated pumping schedule and an estimated annual extraction volume. After extensive lobbying by a coalition of ag groups, the author accepted amendments to SB 252 and removed the following provisions: 1) the requirement for well applicants to notify all adjacent landowners of the intent to obtain a new well permit and 2) the mandate that a public meeting be held before a new well permit could be issued.

POSITION: Ag Council removed opposition after amendments addressing policy concerns were adopted. Ag Council moved to a neutral position. STATUS: SB 252 passed the Legislature and is pending Governor Brown’s consideration.

CDFA Accepting Specialty Crop Grant Applications

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting proposals for the 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Phase I of the two-phase competitive application process is underway for projects enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops in California.

Previously awarded grants involve projects to increase sales of specialty crops by: leveraging the California Grown identity; increasing consumption through expansion of the consumer market; improving availability and providing nutritional education for consumers; training growers to equip them for current and future challenges; and conducting research on conservation and environmental outcomes, pest control and disease, and organic and sustainable production practices.

Phase I proposals must be submitted by 5 p.m. on October 13, 2017. Successful Phase I applicants will be invited to participate in Phase II and submit a detailed grant proposal. Further information is available on CDFA’s website by clicking HERE.