April 9, 2009
Almond Board
California Legislative Report: Update on State Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

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State Legislation

Several pieces of state legislation of interest to the almond industry have been introduced recently in Sacramento.

  • VOC’s - AB 835 by Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Monterey) Specifies that any regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board, or adopted by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, or pesticide product registered by the Department of Pesticide Regulation, that reduces an environmental hazard associated with a pesticide product shall not lead to the registration of, or increased use of, any product that’s more toxic. After lengthy testimony, this bill was held in the Assembly Agriculture Committee after a hearing April 15.

  • Aerial Spraying - SB 759 (Leno) Requires the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to use prescribed information regarding the effects of pesticides, including inert ingredients, to develop educational material for distribution to physicians and surgeons and to the public when pesticides are aerially applied near residential or sensitive areas.

  • Aerial Spraying - - AB 622, by Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, would establish a 3.3-mile "safety zone" between target fields and residential areas or other "sensitive sites," a category that includes schools and hospitals.  The bill is set for hearing April 15 in the Assembly Ag Committee.

  • Food Safety - AB 1372 by Assemblyman Feuer - The Food Safety Analysis and Control Plan requires food processing establishments to adopt and implement Hazard Analysis& Critical Control Points Plans (HACCPP) as prescribed by the Department of Health & Human Services. The HACCPP will require the implementation of procedures to prevent food and ingredient contamination including monitoring, preventive controls, testing, corrective actions and record keeping. The department will have to be notified within 24 hours when positive test results indicate the presence of poisonous or deleterious substances or other contaminants. Department inspectors will also have complete access to facilities and any vehicles used to transport food and ingredients.
  • Card Check - SB 789 (Steinberg) Permits agricultural employees to select their labor representatives by submitting a petition to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board accompanied by representation cards signed by a majority of the bargaining unit. The board would be required to conduct an immediate investigation to determine whether to certify the labor organization as the exclusive bargaining representative for the particular agricultural employees. Within 5 days after receiving a petition, the board would be required to make a non-appealable administrative decision. If the board determined that the representation cards meet specified criteria, then the labor organization would be certified as the exclusive bargaining representative. If the board determined that the representation cards were deficient, it would notify the labor organization of the deficiency and grant the labor organization 30 days to submit additional cards.

  • Williamson Act – SB 715 (Wolk) Makes several substantive changes including the authorization for a county board of supervisors to require the county assessor to send an annual survey to verify continuous agricultural income from one or more agricultural uses or agricultural commodities, in the form the board prescribes, to all owners of land under a contract. The owner or owners would be required to return the completed survey to the assessor within 60 days. The bill would define "agricultural income" to mean continuous income derived from either an agricultural use or an agricultural commodity, or both.  

California Ag Directory The California Department of Food & Agriculture has released its 2008-2009 California Agricultural Resource Directory. The 181 page directory provides an extensive compilation of general information, crop statistics and contact information. It can be accessed on-line at http://cdfa.ca.gov/statistics.

Global Warming

  • Report outlines possible effects of warming on California - - As California warms in coming decades, farmers will have less water, the state could lose more than a million acres of cropland and forest fire rates will soar, according to a broad-ranging state report released Wednesday. The document, which officials called the "the ultimate picture to date" of global warming's likely effect on California, consists of 37 research papers that examine an array of issues including water supply, air pollution and property losses. Without actions to limit greenhouse gas emissions, "severe and costly climate impacts are possible and likely across California," warned state environmental protection secretary Linda Adams. The draft Climate Action Team Report, an update of a 2006 assessment, concludes that some climate change effects could be more serious than previously thought.  The report can be downloaded by clicking here. 

Appointments

  • Bell named to ag seat on Central Valley Water Board - - Nicole Bell, 40, of Sacramento, has been appointed to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, filling the vacant agricultural seat on the board.  She has served as the alumni and industry relations manager for the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation since 2008 and has owned and served as a consultant for Valley Agricultural Consulting Service since 2005. Additionally, Bell has served as a realtor for Lyon Real Estate and secretary for Lower Cosumnes Resource Conservation District since 2005. From 2006 to 2008, she was the manager for the Sacramento-Amador Water Quality Alliance and, from 1994 to 2005, Bell was the executive director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Sacramento/Amador County Farm Service Agency and the Imperial County Farm Service Agency from 1993 to 1994. She is the vice president of the Sacramento Farm Bureau Agriculture Education Foundation and serves on the Sacramento County Farm Bureau. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Bell is a Republican.

  • Sharon Runner pulled from Agriculture Board - - Former Assemblywoman Sharon Runner has been appointed to the Unemployment Insurance Board, a job that pays more than $128,000 per year. Runner's appointment means she will not serve on the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, which she was originally appointed to last month. "Sharon is a great public servant with experience in addressing the critical needs of Californians," said a Schwarzenegger spokeswoman. "We feel she is better utilized in this position at this time." As a member of the UI Appeals Board, Runner will replace Fred Aguiar, who was named State and Consumer Services Agency after Rosario Marin was forced to resign earlier this month. Source: Capitol Weekly April 2, 2009

  • New leadership at State Water Resources Control Board - - Gov. Schwarzenegger has designated Charlie Hoppin as Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.  He was first appointed to the Board in May, 2006. He replaces Tam Doduc who served since 2005. Frances Spivy-Weber was chosen as Vice-Chair. April 3, 2009 Water Board Notice

Air Quality

  • Air Resources Board to help truckers meet pollution rules - - State officials have announced details of one piece of a $1 billion assistance package to help truckers comply with new air pollution regulations for heavy-duty diesel trucks. The state Air Resources Board will provide $48 million to an existing small business loan-guarantee program administered by the California Pollution Control Finance Authority. That backing will leverage about $350 million in loans for small trucking firms that don't meet most banks' underwriting standards, according to a statement from state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who chairs the authority. The funding is authorized under the current state budget. Loans and grants to fund the truck retrofits and replacements are expected to total roughly $1 billion, the most ever provided by the state for compliance with a vehicle regulation. In addition to the loan guarantee program, the air board will soon offer $14 million in vouchers of up to $35,000 to partially cover the cost of replacing trucks made in 1993 or earlier. Additional funds are pending.

Water

  • Farm workers and farmers to 'walk for water' April 14-17- - Farm worker groups and farmers hope a high-profile march to the San Luis Reservoir and a number of rallies will kick start some state and federal action to alleviate their water woes. Organized by the California Latino Water Coalition, the April 14-17 marches and rallies are the first big push to raise awareness of job losses and economic hardships caused by the lack of water flowing from the Central Valley Project to Westside farms. The events are expected to draw thousands of marchers, as well as tractors, produce trucks and semi trucks. The coalition wants the Endangered Species Act standards that prevent pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta suspended.

Washington DC

  • Under Secretaries named --   President Barack Obama has announced his intention to nominate James W. (Jim) Miller to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and Dallas P. Tonsager to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development. "Jim Miller and Dallas Tonsager are well aware of the challenges and opportunities in rural America. They have dedicated their lives to enhancing the success and improving the lives of farmers, ranchers and those living in rural areas," said Secretary Vilsack. Miller currently is Chief of Staff for the National Farmers Union, a position he accepted in 1999 after serving four years as Senior Analyst for Agriculture and Trade on the majority staff of the Senate Budget Committee. Miller also has served as Chief Economist for the National Farmers Union and as Vice President for Government Relations for the National Association of Wheat Growers. Tonsager currently serves as a board member of the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), a position to which he was appointed in 2004. He also is a member of the Board of Directors of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation. Prior to his appointment to the FCA, he was Executive Director of the South Dakota Value-Added Agriculture Development Center, where he coordinated initiatives to better serve producers who developed value-added agricultural projects.

  • Michael Michener named Administrator of FAS - - USDA Secretary Vilsack has named Michener Administrator of the USDA’s Foreign Ag Service (FAS). Michener, of New London, Iowa, has served in three U.S. foreign affairs agencies in the past 10 years. Michener has served in three U.S. foreign affairs agencies in the past 10 years. He has spent considerable time overseas promoting post-conflict stability operations, economic development and human rights. Most recently, he served as the Senior Democracy and Governance Advisor and Lead Planning Officer for the U.S. State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. FAS is responsible for USDA’s international activities, including market development, international trade agreements as well as collection and analysis of market information.

  • Harden nominated for USDA Assistant Secretary post - - President Obama announced he has nominated Krysta Harden to be the new assistant secretary for congressional relations at USDA. Harden currently is the chief executive officer of the National Association of Conservation Districts and is well known on Capitol Hill for her advocacy for conservation programs. Prior to her work with the conservation association, she worked on conservation, environmental, and energy issues as a consultant for major commodity organizations, including the American Soybean Association.

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