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in the KNOW

June 2, 2012

Fight Against Labor Bill Continues

This week, the state Assembly passed a burdensome and unnecessary measure relating to heat illness on farms, despite significant opposition for the ag community. The bill, AB 2346, is supported by the United Farm Workers. The measure’s author is Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D-Torrance).

Ag Council and others opposed AB 2346 because it singles out agriculture and would implement civil and criminal liability provisions relating to heat illness on farms that are not necessary given that the state already has a well-structured regulation in place to protect farmworkers from heat illness.

The bill was developed without consultation with the agricultural community and relies upon data that does not comport with state statistics on heat illness.

The existing heat illness regulation, developed by Cal/OSHA, is supported by agriculture, and the agricultural community has actively engaged in outreach to educate and train farmers and farm labor contractors on how to prevent heat illness in farmworkers.

The Assembly unfortunately approved the bill by a vote of 41-28 on Thursday, AB 2346 will next be considered in the state Senate where Ag Council will continue to oppose the bill.

 

Carbon Market Legislation

The Assembly approved a bill this week that outlines how the state will spend carbon market revenues raised in the quarterly auctions under the cap and trade regulation. Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) authored the bill, AB 1532.

The bill establishes the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account within the Air Pollution Control Fund at the Air Resources Board (ARB) and includes agriculture as one of the areas where auction investments can be made. AB 1532 also tasks the ARB with the responsibility of creating an investment plan for the auction revenues every three years.

Ag Council supports efforts, such as AB 1532, that provide opportunities for the state to make investments in agriculture in order to help our members meet the regulatory requirements of the cap and trade program. Investing a portion of the revenue in our agricultural community helps sustain and grow jobs in addition to making the latest emissions reduction technologies accessible and more economically feasible for our members.

As background, the cap and trade system is the regulatory mechanism created by ARB to implement the Global Warming Solutions Act signed into law in 2006. The law requires greenhouse gas emissions in California to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020.

AB 1532 now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

 

Pay Cut for State Legislators

This week, the California Citizens Compensation Commission voted to reduce salaries for members of the Legislature and statewide officials by 5 percent. The vote follows Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal to cut pay to many state workers by the same amount.

The 5-1 vote lowers pay to California legislators from $95,290 to $90,525. The Governor will have his salary reduced to about $165,288, down from $173,987 as a result of the Commission’s decision.

California state legislators are the highest paid in the nation, and they also receive a per diem estimated at about $30,000 annually to cover living expenses. They do not, however, receive a pension.

The pay cut takes effect December 3, 2012 and will save the state about $657,000 annually.

 

In Memoriam

Ag Council extends our sympathies to family and friends of William McFarlane who passed away on May 15, 2012 at the age of 86. He was an agricultural and community leader in the San Joaquin Valley who farmed raisins, winegrapes, cotton, grain, plums, vegetable and flower seeds, almonds, citrus, and rice.

Among his many accomplishments, Bill was very active in several cooperative farming organizations. Bill served as Ag Council’s Chairman from 1971-1973, and he was named Co-op Farmer of the Year in 1994. In addition, he served in various leadership positions with Ag Council members such as Central California Almond Growers, Blue Diamond Growers and Sun-Maid Growers, and others.

He is survived by his wife, Dorcas McFarlane, five children, 14 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Services were held in Clovis, California on May 25, 2012. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to:

McFarlane-Coffman Agricultural Center
c/o Timberwolves Foundation
2940 Leonard Avenue
Clovis, CA 93619

Clovis Community Medical Center
2755 Herndon Avenue
Clovis, CA 93611

or

Clovis-Big Dry Creek Historical Society
401 Pollasky Avenue
Clovis, CA 93612

Condolences may be offered by clicking HERE.

 

Nominees Sought for Conservation Award

The nomination process is open for the 2012 California Leopold Conservation Award. The Award recognizes exceptional stewards of the land and is presented by the Sand County Foundation in partnership with Sustainable Conservation and the California Farm Bureau Federation.

The award honors the commitment of private landowners to responsibile environmental stewardship and land management. It acknowledges that many ranchers, farmers and other private landowners are on the front lines of conservation and should be recognized for protecting the environment.

Finalists are selected, in part, based on their commitment to responsible and sustainable land management, the overall health of their land, implementation of innovative practices and dedication to community outreach and leadership.

The grand prize is $10,000 and runner-up prizes of $1,000 will also be presented. The deadline for nomination is July 15. For more information and a nomination form, click HERE or contact Sustainable Conservation at ph. (415) 977-0380.