in the KNOW

March 24, 2016

California Air Resources Board staff during a tour with Ag Council and others at the Kern Dairy Cluster on March 26, 2016.

California Air Resources Board staff during a tour with Ag Council and others at the Kern Dairy Cluster on March 16, 2016.


Dairy Tour with Air Resources Board Staff

On March 16, a dozen staff from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) made their way down the San Joaquin Valley to Bidart Dairy outside of Bakersfield. Ag Council organized this tour, along with Michael Boccadoro from Dairy Cares, for the purpose of educating regulatory staff and decision makers on the day-to-day operations of a dairy, and to show them how dairies can lead the way on manure management in California.

CARB staff began the afternoon with a tour from John Bidart, owner and operator of Bidart Dairy and co-founder of CalBio. The tour included a visit to his covered lagoon digester, the largest dairy digester in California. Following the tour, the group discussed air quality issues such as short-lived climate pollutants and a renewable compressed natural gas pilot project, fueled with dairy biogas, to advance the development of California’s sustainable freight transportation system.

The group ended the tour with a bus ride around the proposed pilot project for the Kern Dairy Cluster. The cluster is undertaking an ongoing effort to build digesters with duel electricity and fuel generation on neighboring dairies to not only contribute to the reduction of manure methane but also play an innovative role in the future of sustainable transportation.

Specifically, Bidart Dairy’s digester became operational and began delivering commercial electricity in 2013 and two other dairies received funding from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in 2015. Several more will follow in the coming years to build out this groundbreaking effort that benefits both the dairy industry and improves air quality for the local community.

Ag Council appreciates staff from CARB for taking the time to learn more about dairies in California.

We also thank Bidart Dairy, a member of California Dairies, Inc., for opening up their dairy to state officials. Tours are an important part of Ag Council’s effort to connect with legislators and regulatory officials to discuss critical issues facing our members. Click HERE to learn more.

Ag Overtime Wage Measure Set for Committee Hearing

342917201The bill to phase-in new ag overtime wage requirements is scheduled for consideration in the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment on April 6. The measure is opposed by Ag Council and others.

The bill, AB 2757 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), repeals the current overtime wage requirement in California for agricultural workers, which pays overtime after 10 hours of work in a day, and phases in a new overtime wage law for agricultural workers over the course of four years culminating in a requirement to pay overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in a week by the year 2020.

Existing state law, requiring overtime pay for agricultural workers after 10 hours, recognizes the flexibility that farmers and employees need given the variable nature and seasonality of farming. Our state is only one of a few in the nation to provide overtime pay for agricultural workers.

AB 2757 adds an unnecessary regulatory burden onto agriculture, makes it difficult to remain competitive, and may result in shorter shifts for workers leading to less take home pay.

TAKE ACTION – Send an opposition letter to your legislator via Ag Council’s Action Center by clicking HERE.

State Awards Over $6 Million in Sustainable Groundwater Grants

Twe321998601nty-one counties are the recipients of a total of $6.7 million from the Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program to develop groundwater plans consistent with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is awarding the funds to counties with high and medium priority groundwater basins, including some in critical overdraft, in order to create long-term sustainable groundwater management plans for California’s groundwater basins. SGMA requires basins in critical overdraft to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan two years sooner than other high and medium-priority basins.

DWR gave priority to applications benefiting disadvantaged communities, critically over-drafted basins, basins exhibiting stressed conditions, and proposals to enact ordinances to address groundwater sustainability.

Click the DWR link HERE to view the counties, and their and projects, receiving funding through the grant program.

Take the Annual Meeting Survey

If you attended Ag Council’s 97th Annual Meeting in Napa, please help us plan future meetings by responding to a brief survey available HERE.

Thank you, in advance, for your feedback.