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

State Legislation

Here is the current status of legislation  of interest to the almond industry that has  been introduced in Sacramento.

  • VOC’s - AB 835 by 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.  The bill failed on a 3-1 vote but was granted reconsideration at a later date but was granted reconsideration for a later date. 

  • 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 was made a two-year bill at the author's request following a April 15 hearing at 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. The bill was approved by the Assembly Health Committee by a 13-5 vote on May 5 and referred to the Appropriations Committee.
  • Food Safety - - SB 173 (Florez) will accomplish three things on the ground, says its author Sen. Dean Florez.  "First, a processor and/or grower must immediately notify the state of any private testing that reveals a tainted food product. Second, if a processor chooses not to do its own testing, and a recall later takes place, it will face an automatic shutdown for six months and must cover all of the state's costs related to the outbreak. This should encourage processors not now performing their own testing to do so. Finally, my bill would give California the power of mandatory recall in the event a food processor is dragging its feet. " The Senate Health Committee on May 5 approved the bill on a 7-3 vote.. It was amended to cover only growers and processors and to include good farming practices as appropriate, his office said.  The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • Sen. Florez explains his food safety legislation - - By Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) - - In the spring of 2004, five years before pistachios grown in the San Joaquin Valley became tainted with salmonella, health investigators were hunting for the same deadly bacteria in the same stretch of our state -- this time in the almond orchards. The microbe hadn't struck just any almond grower: The outbreak took place at Paramount Farms, the biggest grower of nuts and citrus in the nation, a behemoth operation unmatched in the precision and cleanliness of its fields and processing plants. As dozens of consumers fell ill nationwide, Paramount recalled 13 million pounds of raw almonds that had gone to chains such as Costco and Trader Joe's.  Much of the almond industry, even before the 2004 outbreak, understood the challenge posed by the miscreants of the microbe world. The co-op Blue Diamond was already heating its almonds at high enough temperatures to kill a wide range of pathogens. In the wake of the outbreak, Paramount Farms decided to follow suit, so that today the bulk of California's 1-billion-pound-plus almond crop, like milk, is pasteurized. <more> April 21, 2009 LA Times   

  • 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. 

Special Election

  • Special election set for May 19 - - After a long, hard-fought battle, the state Legislature in late February passed and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a budget deal designed to address the state's massive budget deficit. The budget measure requires a special election May 19 to help implement many components of the agreement.  Here are the budget measures that will be on that ballot:

    Proposition 1A: Implements a spending cap based on the rate of growth from the last 10 years. If approved, it would extend the length of the taxes approved by the Legislature.

    Proposition 1B: Changes the state's education funding law -- Proposition 98 -- for supplemental education payments to local districts due to recent budget cuts.

    Proposition 1C: Borrows from future lottery earnings.

    Proposition 1D: Takes money from the First 5 Commissions -- aka Proposition 10 funds -- to help balance the budget.

    Proposition 1E: Takes money from the Mental Health Services Act -- aka Proposition 63 funds -- to help balance the budget.

    Proposition 1F: Prevents state-level elected officials from receiving pay raises in years when the state is running a deficit.

     

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

  • Federal water deliveries may reach 15 percent - - For the first time this year, farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are being promised some federal water. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's updated forecast on Tuesday, April 21, foresees between 10 percent and 15 percent of normal deliveries of agricultural water to Central Valley Project contractors south of the Delta. Growers north of the delta will get 15 percent of its normal allotments. Wildlife reserves and water rights holders will get their full allocations throughout the state, while cities will get 65 percent in most scenarios.

Washington DC

  • Former CDFA deputy Secretary Rayne Pegg named to USDA post - - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of Rayne Pegg as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).  Pegg most recently served as the Deputy Secretary of Legislation and Policy for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. In this role, she was the principle advisor to both the Secretary of the Department and the cabinet of the Governor of California on the Department's legislative and policy issues. AMS is part of USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs mission area which works to ensure a productive and competitive global and domestic marketplace for U.S. agricultural products. Pegg will begin serving in this role in early July. "Rayne Pegg brings years of experience to USDA from her work on agricultural issues both as a distinguished public servant and in the non-profit community," said Vilsack. "Rayne's background makes her the ideal person to further the development of programs to ensure efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products as we work to meet the needs of consumers and industries and provide a safe, sustainable food supply for all Americans."  

     

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