in the KNOW

May 4, 2012

Ag Council Members Rank Among Top 100 Cooperatives

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development announced this week that the nation’s 100 largest agricultural cooperatives reported near-record revenue of $118 billion in 2012, which was an increase of 4 percent over 2009 figures. Total expenses in 2012 for the top 100 were up $575 million since 2009 – with labor being the highest cost increase at 7 percent or $4.6 billion.

Several of the cooperatives on the list of 100 are Ag Council members including: Blue Diamond Growers, Land O’Lakes, Pacific Coast Producers, Sunkist Growers, Sun-Maid Growers, and Sunsweet Growers.

In the USDA announcement, Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager said, “Farmer and rancher-owned cooperatives are a mainstay in the American economy, not only helping members market and process their crops, milk and livestock and creating jobs, but also helping producers keep more of the earnings derived from their products at home, in rural counties and communities.”

Ag Council is proud to represent all of our members, who provide healthy and safe food to the nation and the world, in addition to providing thousands of jobs throuhgout the state.

Click here to read the USDA press release.


Final Snow Survey of 2012

Photo of dwindling snowpack courtesy of ACWA

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) completed its fifth and final snow survey of 2012 this week and determined that, after a dry winter, water content in snowpack is at 40 percent of normal. Snowpack usually provides about one-third of the state’s water supply, according to DWR.

This year, deliveries to state water contractors will be 60 percent of the requested 4 million feet of water. In 2011, the wet year allowed DWR to deliver 80 percent of the requested amount of water.

Lake Oroville, which is the State Water Project’s (SWP) primary reservoir, is 97 percent full.

The SWP is critical because it supplies water to over 25 million Californians and close to one million acres of farmland.

Click here to read DWR’s press release.


Gov’s Tax Measure

Governor Jerry Brown said this week that his tax measure has collected the signatures needed to qualify for the November 2012 ballot.

The tax proposal would increase sales taxes in California by a quarter-cent and hike state income taxes on those earnings over $250,000 a year in order to fund public schools and other programs due to budget shortfalls.

Over 80,000 valid voter signatures had to be collected by early May in order for the Governor’s tax measure to be eligible for the November ballot. The signatures must next be reviewed for validity by the Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, California Republican Party leaders are traveling the state to urge voters to oppose Governor Brown’s tax measure. State Republican Party Chairman, Tom Del Beccaro, Assembly Republican Leader, Connie Conway (R-Visalia), and others launched the effort yesterday, which also focuses on curbing state spending. The tour heads to Bakersfield and Fresno today.


California Ranked Last by CEOs–Again

Photo courtesy of CA Department of Parks & Recreation

For the eighth year in a row, California ranked last in a survey of the Best and Worst States in which to conduct business by 650 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs).

The survey, by Chief Executive Magazine, asked CEOs to evaluate states based on taxes, regulations, workforce quality and the living environment, among other areas.

CEOs cited the difficult regulatory environment and taxes as reasons for ranking the state last, behind all other states.

Texas, Florida and North Carolina were ranked as the top three states respectively. Click here to read more.


Heat Illness

Educational Seminars
Heat illness prevention training is underway to help farmers and employees better understand how to stay safe during the summer months and protect workers.

The seminars, offered by Cal/OSHA and State Compensation Insurance Fund, will discuss the California Heat-Illness Prevention Standard pertaining to water and shade, supervisor training, high-heat procedures and emergency strategies.

The classes, offered at no-cost, began this week and continue over the next few months at locations throughout the state. Click here for dates and locations.

On a related note, Ag Council joined with other agricultural groups to speak out against an excessive and unnecessary heat illness bill last week in the state Assembly Committee on Public Safety.

The measure, AB 2346, by Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D-Torrance), would make farmers jointly liable for alleged heat illness violations by farm labor contractors, create a private right of action for agricultural employees to sue employers under state heat illness regulations, and replace existing heat illness regulations with extreme and punitive statutory language.

AB 2346 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. 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 via webinars, training sessions, videos, brochures and other mechanisms.

The legislation was unfortunately approved out of the Committee on Public Safety by a vote of 4 to 2. AB 2346 will next be considered in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, and Ag Council will continue to oppose the bill.