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in the KNOW

January 17, 2014

Gov. Brown Declares Drought Emergency

With snowpack in California at 20 percent of normal for this time of year, an official drought State of Emergency was declared by Governor Jerry Brown this morning. The declaration allows for greater cooperation among government agencies and enables the state to adjust current regulations to reflect the extreme drought conditions.

“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Governor Brown said.

He also said, “I’ve declared this emergency, and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.” He announced that a public awareness campaign website has been launched at: www.saveourh2o.org.

The governor’s proclamation directs state officials to assist farmers and farming communities, in particular, who are affected by the drought. In addition, the proclamation announces that the California Department of Food and Agriculture is developing a drought resources website with drought updates and details about federal and state drought-related programs.  The website can be accessed HERE.

Click HERE to read Governor Brown’s full statement, as well as the drought proclamation.

World Ag Expo Breakfast on Feb. 12

Dan Richard, Chair of the High Speed Rail Authority, is the keynote speaker at the World Ag Expo breakfast on Feb. 12.

Dan Richard, Chair of the High Speed Rail Authority

Ag Council members and friends are invited to attend our annual breakfast at the World Ag Expo in Tulare on February 12, 2014 at 9 a.m. featuring keynote speaker, Dan Richard, Chair of the High Speed Rail Authority. The event will be held in the Heritage Complex conference room on the Expo showgrounds.

Given that the complex issues surrounding the high speed rail project are of strong interest to many of Ag Council’s members, we are holding this event to provide a forum for dialogue with Dan Richard.

There is no cost to attend. However, RSVPs are required to Rebecca Osumi at ph. 916.443.4887 or rebecca@agcouncil.org. Please contact Rebecca with any questions.

 

 

 

MOU on Prop 65 Signed

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “on cooperation and communication in the implementation of Proposition 65 with respect to exposure to Proposition 65 listed chemicals in food or food additives.”

Ag Council has worked with both agencies on Proposition 65 issues critical to our members and is pleased the MOU is now final, which will help facilitate continued dialogue on Proposition 65 chemicals important to our members.

The MOU ensures that OEHAA and CDFA will “share information and collaborate as needed on both candidate chemicals and chemicals that are already listed under Proposition 65 found in soil, food products, agricultural pesticides and fertilizers.”

An example of Ag Council’s past work with OEHAA and CDFA on Proposition 65 is sulfur dioxide as used in dried fruit. Ag Council and others worked to provide scientific data to OEHHA that led the agency to conclude that consumption by the average consumer of dried fruit treated with “sulfur dioxide will not result in exposure to sulfur dioxide exceeding the proposed Maximum Allowable Dose Level. Therefore, a warning is not required under Proposition 65 at this time for exposure to sulfur dioxide from consumption of dried fruit.”

As background, Proposition 65 was enacted by voters 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. Proposition 65 has led to unintended consequences for California agriculture, including some Ag Council members, because healthy California-grown foods can be negatively impacted by Proposition 65 listings and labels.

Gov. Brown Announces Budget

Governor Jerry Brown recently released his $107 billion proposed California budget for 2014-2015 featuring a $1.6 billion deposit into a Rainy Day Reserve, billions to K-12 schools and public colleges and universities and $11 billion to pay down the “Wall of Debt,” which is money that was not provided during the state budget crisis and is owed to Medi-Cal, schools, and special state funds.

The Legislature is now tasked with developing their 2014-2015 budget while taking into consideration the governor’s budget proposal. The Legislature must approve a budget by June 15 under the California Constitution.

The governor’s proposed plan includes the following budget allocations (this is not a comprehensive overview).

Agriculture

For the first time in several years, the governor’s budget does not include cuts to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Among the funding for agriculture, the 2014-2015 proposed budget contains $20 million in funds from cap and trade revenues going to CDFA for the following efforts: $12 million for dairy digesters, $5 million for the Fertilizer Research and Education Program and $3 million for the development of renewable fuels.

The Sustainable Communities program receives $100 million in the budget from cap and trade funds for competitive grants for efforts such as farmland preservation.

Water

The governor also proposes $618 million in his budget to support the Water Action Plan, which is an effort developed by CDFA and other state agencies to achieve more reliable water supplies, restoration of species and habitat, and a more resilient and sustainable water management system over the next five years. Specific measures in the plan include adding storage capacity, encouraging conservation and water recycling for potable use.

Relating to groundwater, over $11 million is in the governor’s budget plan for groundwater management and drinking water improvements in disadvantaged communities. About $5 million is provided to the State Water Resources Control Board for the purpose of sustainable management of groundwater basins, and the Department of Water Resources receives $3 million for its monitoring program for groundwater.

Proposition 65

The budget also allocates $785,000 for four new positions at the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Fund to “revise Proposition 65 regulations and develop a website that provides information to the public on exposure to listed chemicals.”