Oct. 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.  Oct. 11, 2009 was the deadline for the Governor to take action on legislation.

Active Bills as of Oct. 12, 2009

  • Florez Food Safety Bill Vetoed by Governor - - SB 173  by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) was vetoed by the Governor on Oct. 11, 2009.  It was approved  by the Assembly on Sept. 1, 2009 by a vote of 50-27. The Senate then approved the bill by a 26-9 margin on Sept. 4, 200.  Instead of mandating recalls as originally proposed, the bill has been amended so it only allows state public-health officials to adopt regulations for voluntary recalls.

  • Florez Ag Burning Bill vetoed by Governor - - SB 382 by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter)  was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger on Oct. 11, 2009. It provided that a permit to burn agricultural waste  within the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control  District (SJVUAPCD) is not valid for any day the district prohibits operation of a wood burning fireplace or heater. The Governor’s veto message read: "This bill is unnecessary. The District has existing authority to regulate, as appropriate, both agricultural burning, through its California Air Resources Board-approved Smoke Management Program, and residential wood burning through existing District rules. Additionally, vegetation management projects play a significant role in preventing and reducing the spread of devastating wildfires. As written, this bill could constrain the ability of Cal Fire to perform critical vegetation management projects on State Responsibility Area lands located within the District. Burn activities should be judged both independently and in combination according to where the activities are occurring and the current air conditions. The District is the best entity to make this determination. For these reasons, I am unable to sign this bill."The measure was approved by the Senate May 14, 2009 on a 23-14 vote and was approved by the Assembly on Sept 2, 2009. 

  • Transition to Organics Act  vetoed by Governor - - AB 1401 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) was vetoed by  Governor Schwarzenegger on Oct. 11, 2009. It was approved by the Senate by a 23-12 margin on Sept. 9, 2009. The bill passed the Assembly by a 60-16 margin on May 28.  The bill would  establish the Transition To Organics Fund to be administered by the CDFA, consisting of money from federal, industry, and citizen sources.

  • Card Check Bill Vetoed by Governor-  - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 2, 2009 vetoed legislation that would make it easier for farmworkers to join unions, marking the third straight year he has rejected the top priority of the United Farm Workers union. SB 789   by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, (D-Sacramento), would have given workers the option of bypassing secret-ballot elections. Instead, they could sign representation cards. If a majority signed up, the state would certify the new bargaining unit.

  • 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. A hearing that was set for July 2, 2009 in the Assembly Ag Committee was canceled at the author's request and the bill is pending as of Sept. 10, 2009 and is unlikely to be taken up before the sessionn ends Sept. 11, 2009. 

Inactive Bills for current session

  • 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, 2009.  The bill failed on a 3-1 vote but was granted reconsideration at 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. On May 28, 2009, the bill was held in committee pending further action.

  • 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.

  • Carbon footprint labeling - - Legislation  that would require the California Air Resources Board to develop a voluntary program for labeling the carbon footprint of products sold in California was approved Aug. 17, 2009 by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a 13-0 margin. As of Sept. 10, 2009, it was still awaiting action  on the Senate floor.  It was approved  June 3 by the Assembly by a 47-32 margin. AB 19 was introduced by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin (D-Los Altos)  Chair of the Assembly Budget Sub-Committee on Natural Resources. As chair he will oversee the implementation of AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The bill’s principal sponsor is Carbon Label California. The bill was first introduced in March 2008.

  • Food Safety -  -AB 1327 by Assemblyman Feuer. The bill was approved by the Assembly Health Committee by a 13-5 vote on May 5 and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. As of Sept. 10, 2009, the bill was being held in the Appropriations Committee and it seemed unlikely the bill would move before session ends Sept. 11, 2009. The Food Safety Analysis and Control Plan requires food processing establishments to adopt and implement Hazard Analysis& Critical Control Points Plans (HACCP) as prescribed by the Department of Health & Human Services. The HACCP 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.

Water

  • Feinstein planning major delta legislation - - California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Sept. 30, 2009 she is planning one of the biggest pieces of legislation she's ever attempted to address the water and environmental crisis in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Feinstein told the San Francisco Chronicle she has told her staff to scour other major water restoration projects, from the Great Lakes to the Everglades , to find a way to fix the delta, one of the world's largest natural estuaries. We are looking at putting together a major delta restoration act," Feinstein said. "There is enormous national significance of this delta estuary. It's 2,000 miles of levees, it goes up through Sacramento, and it is an enormous inland body of water that has not gotten the attention it needs. It is crumbling and in an earthquake could come down entirely." She also called for waiving the Endangered Species Act to speed water transfers from the delta to farmers. "Just get it done as fast as we can," she said.

  • Congressmen Cardoza and Costa introduce bill to facilitate water transfers - - Representatives Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) and Jim Costa (D-Fresno) introduced a bill Oct. 7, 2009 that would help ease the effects of severe drought in the Central Valley by facilitating the transfers of up to 300,000 acre-feet of irrigation water. HR 3750 The Water Transfer Facilitation Act of 2009 eases restrictions on the Bureau of Reclamation and would streamline environmental reviews for the giant garter snake.  The bill would reduce unnecessary delays in water transfers at a time when Central Valley farmers have been hard hit by a three-year drought.  Senators Boxer and Feinstein have introduced a companion bill in the Senate S 1759.

  • State ag board holds special water session Oct. 14 - - The State Board of Food and Agriculture will meet in Fresno on Wednesday, October 14 to discuss the current and long-term impacts of water shortages. The meeting will be held at the Fresno Farm Bureau Federation, 1274 W. Hedges Ave, Fresno from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The board will hear from speakers from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and conduct a panel discussion on actionable solutions with agricultural farm organizations, water districts and state officials. Public participation and comment is encouraged.

USDA

  • USDA launches new research initiative - - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) with a major speech regarding the role of science and research at USDA. At an event at the National Press Club with John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Vilsack outlined his vision for addressing the some of the world's major challenges over the coming decades. “NIFA will be the Department's extramural research enterprise,” said Vilsack. “It is no exaggeration to say that NIFA will be a research "start-up" company - we will be rebuilding our competitive grants program from the ground up to generate real results for the American people.

Food Safety- Federal

  • USDA, FDA team up to write new food safety rules -- Two federal agencies are teaming up to write new food safety rules for fresh produce, following foodborne illness outbreaks tied to fruits and vegetables in recent years. The USDA announced Oct. 5 its fresh produce chief Leanne Skelton will work with the Food and Drug Administration to develop new produce regulations over the next six months. As part of the process, officials will travel the country to talk with food safety officials and farmers -- including small, organic growers -- about the impact new rules would have on the industry.  The effort will build on guidance the FDA proposed in July to improve the safety of tomatoes, leafy greens and melons.

Washington DC

  • Former trade adviser tapped for top ag trade post - - President Obama has announced his intention to nominate a former Clinton Administration trade adviser, Islam "Isi" Siddiqui, as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The position carries the rank of ambassador and must be confirmed by the Senate. Dr. Siddiqui was the senior trade adviser to Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman for several years. He is currently vice president for science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, where he is responsible for regulatory and international trade issues related to crop protection chemicals. Previously, Dr. Siddiqui also served as CropLife America's vice president for agricultural biotechnology and trade. While at USDA from 1997 to 2001, Siddiqui also served as under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs. At the conclusion of the Clinton Administration, Siddiqui joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington's leading think tank on foreign affairs, where he focused on agricultural biotechnology and food security issues.  Before joining USDA, Dr. Siddiqui spent 28 years with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. He received a B.S. degree in plant protection from Uttar Pradesh Agricultural University in Pantnagar, India, as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology, both from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

 

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