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in the KNOW

April 10, 2015

Ag Council Participates in Drought Meeting with Gov. Brown

On April 8, Ag Council participated in a drought meeting with Governor Jerry Brown, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin, State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus and about 25 stakeholders from the urban, environmental and agricultural communities.

The goals of the meeting were to discuss common pressures related to the drought and to discuss the next steps should the drought continue. Afterward, the media briefly joined the meeting for interviews.

Overall, despite the diverse nature of the stakeholders, and differing perspectives on water, the conversation was relatively positive. There were a few contentious moments. However, participants recognized that with the current drought conditions, now is the time for an “all hands on deck” approach to solving very complex problems.

Key themes:
1) The bulk of the conversation consisted of discussion about the potential for future collaboration. Participants cited specific examples where collaboration assisted with local water and environmental projects.

2) While no specific next steps were outlined, urban water users and state agencies asked for regulatory flexibility to assist in building local water projects and the ability to deal with other drought issues on the local level.

3) The environmental community continues to ask for more reporting and public information on water use. However, the Governor pushed back on such requests. We believe this was the first of several meetings, and Ag Council will keep our members apprised of future meetings.

Ag Council intends to leverage the conversation to find areas of commonality among the agricultural community and pursue those areas with Governor Brown and his administration.

Assembly Ag Committee Chair Henry Perea Visits Almond Farm

Dan Clendenin, a farmer with Blue Diamond Growers, speaks with Assembly Ag Committee Chairman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) about water use efficiencies.

Dan Clendenin, a farmer with Blue Diamond Growers, speaks with Assembly Ag Committee Chairman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) about water use efficiencies.

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chairman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) on April 10, met with Dan Clendenin, a family farmer in Merced who grows almonds for Blue Diamond Growers, an Ag Council member.

Chairman Perea toured the farm and Dan talked about how the drought has impacted him and discussed his efforts to efficiently use water. Dan talked about his use of micro-sprinklers to efficiently irrigate his crop. With 70 percent of almond growers using such systems, farmers are leaders in water use efficiency. Dan also uses a drip irrigation system because it maximizes water absorption into the soil with less evaporation.

Dan, like many farmers in California, is experiencing significant water challenges given that he is currently not receiving any surface water and is using groundwater. Though Dan has no surface water allocation, surface water is being provided from the same source for environmental purposes. Dan also spoke with Chairman Perea about the cost of water, which is contingent upon many factors, as well as the costs to operate his farm.

Ag Council thanks Chairman Perea for taking the time to learn more about ag water use. We also appreciate Dan Clendenin and Blue Diamond for helping to provide Chairman Perea with critical information about ag water use.

Ag Water Use Fact Sheet

Ag Council member, Almond Hullers & Processors Association (AHPA) developed a fact sheet entitled, “8 Facts about Almonds, Agriculture, and the Drought.” Given the recent misinformation regarding agricultural water use, it is vital that accurate information is provided to the media and the public. AHPA’s fact sheet includes the following information:

• Agriculture uses 41 percent of our state’s total water supply, not 80 percent as stated by some in the media. Click HERE for details published in a study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and posted on the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) website. To view the full PPIC Water Policy Center report, click HERE.

• Farmers are sharing in the sacrifice. Last year, the drought cost farmers $1.5 billion in California and caused over 17,000 job losses, according to a 2014 UC Davis drought impact study. Click HERE for more details.

• Over 90 percent of almond farms are family farms and three-quarters are under 100 acres, per the United States Department of Agriculture 2012 Census.

• Total agricultural water use is not increasing; in fact, it decreased between 1967 and 2010 and is holding steady, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR).  In the meantime, the value per gallon has increased.

To read the full AHPA release, click HERE.

Food & Ag Coalition Comments on Prop 65 Proposed Regulation

Ag Council and a coalition of food and ag associations provided comments on April 8 regarding the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) proposed rule pertaining to Prop 65 Clear and Reasonable Warnings.

In the letter, the Food and Ag Coalition urges OEHHA to pursue additional avenues of Prop. 65 reform, including litigation reform and improvements to the “naturally occurring” exemption. In addition, the Coalition provided recommendations regarding the proposed regulation on Clear and Reasonable Warnings that would provide more meaningful changes for producers and consumers.

Ag Council remains highly engaged in Prop 65 issues on behalf of our members and will continue to communicate regulatory updates on this issue to our members.

To read the Food and Ag Coalition letter, click HERE.

Ag Council Testifies at Fumigation Workshop

On April 9, the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) held a workshop to consider expanding field fumigation notification requirements. Ag Council voiced concerns during the workshop, joining more than a dozen farmers and stakeholders to express concern that farmers may eventually be required to both notify and monitor for all field fumigations.

A special thank you to Dave Phippen, a member of Almond Hullers and Processors Association (AHPA)–an Ag Council member–for participating as a panelist during the workshop.

As background, DPR is evaluating the current methyl bromide notification regulations and label requirements to determine if any of those requirements should be made applicable to other fumigants.

Click HERE for further details on DPR’s website.

Labor Relations & Worker Safety Course

Ag Council members are encouraged to attend an employee relations class that is a part of the Farm and Ranch Management Industry Training (FARMit) program developed by the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA).

This class is beneficial for owner/operators, farm managers, agricultural consultants and anyone working with employees in the California ag arena. The course will provide an overview of worker safety and labor relations, while also delving into critical information regarding the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, Cal/OSHA and other regulatory matters affecting agricultural employers and managers.

The course is scheduled on Wednesday, April 15, 2015 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at La Quinta Inn & Suites in Paso Robles.

Water Commission to Hold Public Meetings on Water Storage

The California Water Commission is holding public meetings regarding the Water Storage Investment Program in April. Meetings will be held in Chico on April 13 and in Fresno on April 15 and both meetings begin at 5:30 p.m.

The meetings are an opportunity for the public to learn more about Prop 1 (the water bond), hear the timeline for implementation of the water storage component of the bond, and better understand how the public can be involved in the process. The public can also suggest ideas to the water commissioners during the meetings.

For information about the meetings, click HERE for the April 13 meeting in Chico and HERE for the April 15 meeting in Fresno.