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January 30, 2015

Join Us for Breakfast at the World Ag Expo on Feb. 11

Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford)

Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford)

Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) and California Water Commission Vice-Chair, Joe Del Bosque are the featured speakers at Ag Council’s World Ag Expo breakfast on Feb. 11th at 8 a.m.

Members and friends are invited to join Ag Council for our fourth annual breakfast at the World Ag Expo on February 11, 2015 at 8 a.m. in the Heritage Complex – Conference Dining Room. This year, we have two great speakers lined-up: Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) and California Water Commission (CWC) Vice-Chair Joe Del Bosque.

Senator Vidak will address issues at the forefront of the 2015 legislative session. Joe Del Bosque will speak about the next steps in the implementation of the recently approved water bond. We hope you’ll join us for this informative discussion.

There is no cost to attend. However, an RSVP is required to Allyson Rathkamp at: Allyson@agcouncil.org or (916) 443-4887. Please contact Allyson with any questions.

Dairy Members Meet with Legislators

Ag Council’s Dairy Committee members met with a bipartisan group of legislators in Sacramento this week for breakfast. The meet and greet breakfast was an opportunity to connect with legislators and also discuss issues facing the dairy industry.

Through this initial conversation, we endeavor to build a stronger dialogue between our members and legislators regarding policies impacting California dairy farmers.

Legislation Impacting Dairy

With the 2015 legislative session underway, legislators are drafting and introducing bills on a multitude of policy matters. February 27 is the last day for bills to be introduced in the California State Legislature, which means we will see a significant number of measures introduced over the next month.

Ag Council wanted to take this opportunity to provide information regarding legislation introduced at the state level that would impact our dairy members. Given that it is early in the year, legislation will continue to be altered and amended.

Use of Antibiotics in Livestock & Poultry – SB 27

Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced SB 27, a bill addressing the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry. SB 27 was written in response to Governor Brown’s veto of an antibiotics bill, SB 835, by Senator Hill last year. SB 835 would have aligned California law with recent federal actions to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes.

At this time, SB 27 includes the following provisions:
• Prohibits the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in livestock and poultry unless prescribed by a veterinarian.
• Bans the use of antibiotics to promote growth or increase feed efficiency.
• Requires CDFA to develop antibiotic stewardship guidelines.
• Mandates CDFA to create a program to track the use of medically important antibiotics and track antibiotic-resistant bacteria and patterns of emerging resistance.

Ag Council and other ag groups have met with Senator Hill and his staff to communicate concerns about SB 27 including privacy protections for the farming community. At the federal level, the United States Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA) is developing a blueprint document coordinated with other federal agencies to address antibiotic resistance nationwide, and we do not want the state to circumvent the important work occurring at the national level on this issue.

A hearing has not yet been scheduled regarding SB 27. Ag Council continues to engage on this issue, and we will continue to communicate further developments.

Dairy – AB 77

Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Porterville) drafted and submitted a “spot” bill relating to dairy, which does not yet contain substantive language. Spots bills are placeholders that legislators may choose to alter as the legislative year progresses, and a spot bill is typically introduced to ensure that a germane vehicle will be available at a later date for a specific policy issue. Spot measures cannot be referred to a committee for a hearing until substantive language is added.

Ag Council staff has met with Assemblyman Mathis who confirmed that AB 77 is a spot bill, and the intent is to have a bill ready in case the dairy industry needs a legislative vehicle on an issue of concern during the legislative session.

Ag Council Comments on Air Toxics Health Risk Guidelines

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) recently adopted new risk estimates resulting from changes to air toxics health risk guidelines that could compel businesses to notify surrounding communities that the health risk from their operations is growing, despite the fact their facility emissions remain the same or even decreased.

Ag Council recently provided written comments to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA), which are working on these guidelines, urging them to develop reasonable air toxics policies. CARB and CAPCOA guidelines for local air districts should help put new facility health risk estimates into proper context when communicating to the public. The guidelines should recognize that absent an actual increase in air toxics emissions, a given facility does not pose an increased risk to nearby communities and risk reduction requirements should reflect that fact.

Ag Council is concerned our members could be required to notify the public of a “new” health risk. Risk communication policies must be developed in a way that the public is offered clear and credible explanations of why the health risk assessment guidelines have changed and what the changes really mean in terms of actual health risks. It is important the public understand air toxics emissions have not increased; rather, the state has changed the way it estimates air toxics risk. It is imperative that new risk estimates are put into proper context so as not to unnecessarily alarm the public.

Our members need reasonable policies that will allow them to operate their business with certainty. Challenging new policies, such as this, could significantly harm our members’ operations or jeopardize their ability to obtain or renew local permits.

Ag Council remains involved in this issue and will keep our members apprised of further developments.

State Board of Food & Ag to Hold Drought Meeting

Given that farmers are facing the possibility of drought for the fourth year in a row, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture is holding a meeting with federal, state and local officials on February 3, 2015 at 10 a.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N Street in Sacramento in the Main Auditorium to discuss drought operations and potential actions in 2015.

“It is critically important that we continue to work cooperatively with our federal and state partners in addressing this ongoing drought,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “With our current lack of significant precipitation and snowpack, this could be an extremely challenging year for our state’s farmers and ranchers.”

The meeting will be streamed live online HERE. To read more, click HERE.