in the KNOW

September 27, 2013

Ag Council Works to Minimize Impact of Waste Discharge Fee Increases

This week, the State Water Resources Control Board reduced the fee increase on Combined Animal Facilities under the Waste Discharge Permit Fund from the previously proposed 46 percent to 27 percent. Ag Council and others had been advocating for a freeze in the fee at 2012-2013 levels given that California dairy families, in particular, are already facing severe economic pressures.

Though Ag Council certainly does not support the revised 27 percent fee increase, Ag Council staff spoke at this week’s hearing to express appreciation to the Board for taking into consideration the difficulties facing the dairy community and for greatly reducing the fee increase for Combined Animal Facilities. The Board voted to approve the new fees at its meeting this past Tuesday.

Ag Council also advocated for a freeze in the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP) fees at 2012-2013 levels. Unfortunately, the request was not granted and fees for farmers in the ILRP will increase by 34.5 percent.

The fees are being increased in 2013-2014 because state General Fund monies are no longer provided for the Waste Discharge Permit Fund. As a result, the Fund is now an entirely fee-based program, which was a decision made by the Legislature in 2011.

In the long term, Ag Council and others from the ag community proposed that the Board work with stakeholders earlier in the budgeting process to provide a stronger level of involvement for those affected by the fees before budget decisions are made. This is a priority given that Ag Council and other stakeholders were given just a few days to engage in the process this year, which prevented interested parties from being able to impact decisions on fee increases.

The Board and staff communicated during this week’s meeting that they are receptive to working together earlier in the budget process, and Ag Council looks forward to beginning these conversations as soon as possible.

Minimum Wage Increase Signed into Law

Governor Brown signs bill to raise California's minimum wage. Photo by Nick Ut

Governor Brown signs bill to raise California’s minimum wage. Photo by Nick Ut

On Wednesday, Governor Brown signed a measure, AB 10, to increase California’s minimum wage. Ag Council and many other organizations oppose a minimum wage increase because it will escalate employer costs and stunt job growth at a time when half of our counties in the state face double-digit unemployment.

Currently, minimum wage in California is $8 per hour. The new law raises the minimum wage to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014 and then to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016. At $10 per hour, California will have the highest minimum wage in the nation.

Click HERE to read Governor Brown’s statement upon signing the minimum wage bill.

Legislature in Adjournment – Bills Sent to Governor’s Desk

With the Legislature having concluded its business two weeks ago, Governor Brown has until October 13 to sign or veto measures on his desk.

Hundreds of measures await Governor Brown’s consideration including a bill to extend Carl Moyer funding (AB 8), legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a California driver’s license (AB 60) and several bills to improve drinking water for those living in disadvantaged communities, among others.

Legislative Overview In case you missed Ag Council’s recent overview of key legislation affecting our members, click HERE to read the legislative update.

Annual Meeting March 2-4, 2014

SavetheDate_frontWe invite all members to join us March 2-4, 2014 for Ag Council’s 95th Annual Meeting to be held at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach, California.

This event is held in conjunction with CoBank’s Pacific West Customer Meeting. Further details will be available at a later date. In the meantime, please save March 2-4, 2014 on your calendars.