Fifteen dairymen and staff from Land O’Lakes, California Dairies Inc., and Dairy Farmers of America joined Ag Council for a Dairy Lobby Day at the state Capitol to support AB 31, which is a measure regarding dairy pricing authored by Dr. Richard Pan (D-Lodi).
Asm. Adam Gray (D-Merced) & Asm. Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley)
The dairymen convened in Sacramento on Wednesday for a morning briefing with Ag Council staff before heading into the Capitol for meetings. The farmers met with legislators who sit on the Ag Committee, as well as others, to urge their support for AB 31. The meetings included visits with: Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), Assemblymember Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), among others. In addition, Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) and Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) stopped by to meet the dairymen during lunch, and Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) swung by to say hello as the farmers wrapped-up their day.As background, AB 31 would implement needed changes in the Food and Agricultural Code to set a minimum price for California milk sold to cheese manufacturers and would also provide a credit to the cheese makers. The bill is being opposed by some entities in the cheese processing industry. Ag Council and our dairy members support AB 31 given that California has not kept pace with price opportunities in the formula used to price whey (a protein created when cheese is produced).
The measure is scheduled to be considered in the Assembly Agriculture Committee on May 1st.
On an issue of importance to many Ag Council members, the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) recently issued a proposed regulation to establish a Proposition 65 Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) for sulfur dioxide (SO2).
In its proposed rule, OEHHA concluded that “consumption by the average consumer of dried fruit treated with SO2 will not result in exposure to SO2 exceeding the proposed MADL. Therefore, a warning is not required under Proposition 65 at this time for exposure to SO2 from consumption of dried fruit.”
Ag Council worked with the Dried Fruit Association (DFA) and the CA League of Food Processors to present data to OEHHA demonstrating the use of sulfur dioxide on fruit. Once OEHHA analyzed the data, they provided the proposed rule.
Proposition 65 was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986 and was intended to protect Californians and the state’s drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause harm and to inform citizens via labeling or signage about exposure to such chemicals.
However, Proposition 65 has led to unintended consequences towards California agriculture. The recently announced proposed rule has been a high priority regulatory matter for Ag Council and many of our members because healthy California-grown foods can be negatively impacted by Proposition 65 listings and labels.
Please contact our office at ph 916.443.4887 if you would like further details about the proposed rule. Click HERE to read the regulatory notice.
Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) held a Cap and Trade Forum last week in Fresno to discuss how the state cap and trade regulation is being implemented. The Forum gave stakeholders, including Ag Council and its members, an opportunity to raise concerns about the regulation and encourage support of actions that will help the ag community. Ag Council was a sponsor of the Forum.
Dino Giacomazzi and Karri Hammerstrom speaking at the Forum
Two Ag Council members spoke at Perea’s Forum last week to provide stakeholder input. Dino Giacomazzi, a dairyman with Land O’Lakes, and Karri Hammerstrom, a peach grower, who is a member-owner with the California Canning Peach Association.
Giacomazzi spoke about the significant investments Land O’Lakes has made in order to meet current regulations, which exemplifies efforts being undertaken in the Central Valley.
He said, “Land O’Lakes has invested heavily in the latest technologies making our manufacturing plants more efficient. We invested over $4 million dollars on a new boiler and steam system since 2009. It includes ultra-low emissions burners, predictive emissions modeling and complex condensate return systems. Land O’Lakes converted two of our drying plants from natural gas fired to steam heated since 2009 in an effort to reduce emissions and make a higher quality, more marketable product. Even though these technologies are some of the most advanced available, they are now not adequate when measuring our emissions versus AB 32.”
Hammerstrom spoke about the substantial trade pressures on California crops. She said, “Agricultural products are very sensitive to low-cost competitors in domestic and international markets. The California Department of Food and Agriculture reveals that, of the top 10 commodities in our state, over half are exposed to international trade issues.”
Food manufacturers are a key downstream partner for farmers–who would not have a ready market for their crops without the food manufacturers. As a result, both Giacomazzi and Hammerstrom expressed support at the Forum for Ag Council’s ongoing effort to move food manufacturers from the medium emissions leakage to high emissions leakage category under the cap and trade regulation. Such action would help minimize the cost impacts on California’s food manufacturers, thereby alleviating some of the negative effects of the regulation on our agricultural community.