April 11, 2011
Almond Board
California Legislative Report: Update on Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

Legislative Update

  • Almond Board members briefed on state and federal legislative issues -  - Updates on current state and federal legislative issues were provided March 15, 2011 to almond industry leaders by Dee Dee D’Adamo, Senior Policy Adviser to Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced), and Jim Collin, Chief Consultant, State Assembly Agriculture Committee. Industry members gathered at the Almond Board’s Modesto offices, in addition to participating by conference call. The meeting was organized as part of an ongoing effort to educate industry members about legislative and regulatory issues of concern.  Budget concerns dominated both the federal and state outlooks, with both Collin and D’Adamo highlighting the impact budget cuts will have in agricultural policy areas.  Collin detailed the $15 million in cuts proposed for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Funding will be reduced for the High Risk Pest Exclusion Working Group, as well as for programs dealing with Imported Red Fire Ant, Pierce’s Disease, Light Brown Apple Moth, and the state plant and seed labs.  He pointed out that preserving funding for dealing with invasive species has emerged as a top priority for the coalition of state farm groups that was formed to make budget recommendations to CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. Read More

State Legislature

  • Senate OKs farmworker 'card check' bill - - The state Senate approved "card check" legislation that would create an alternative path to a secret-ballot election for farmworkers seeking union representation.  Senate Bill 104, which passed March 31, 2011 on a 24-14 party-line vote, would let workers unionize by having a majority of employees sign and submit petition cards to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. The bill, sponsored by the United Farm Workers union, would also create steeper penalties for employers who seek to block workers from unionizing or engage in unfair labor practices.  The bill is authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, (D-Sacramento.) Steinberg introduced a similar bill in 2008. It passed the Legislature but vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • Minimum wage bill introduced - - Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville)  has introduced AB 10 which would increase the minimum wage from $8.00 to $8.50 an hour and mandates that minimum wage adjust automatically each year based on the California Consumer Price Index. The bill was approved on a 5-1 vote by the Assembly Labor Committee on March 30, 2011 and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

  • Cannella bill would require economic analysis of enviro/safety regs - -  State Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres)  has introduced Senate Bill 639 requiring that all regulations undergo an economic impact analysis before being adopted or amended by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) or the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). SB 639 is designed to help analyze proposed regulations’ economic impact before being adopted, amended or repealed by CalEPA and Cal/OSHA. In particular, the economic impact analysis must take into account each regulation’s General Fund cost, its cost to private-sector employers, the amount of job loss expected, a description of all possible alternatives, a cost-benefit analysis of each alternative and a summary of written comments regarding the proposed action. This economic analysis will be conducted by an independent firm or university, and its ultimate report will be made available to the public on the state agency’s website.

State Agencies

  • State begins monitoring of air for pesticides in two Central Valley counties-- Machines from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation are sniffing the air in Kern, San Joaquin and Monterey counties to expand its knowledge of the potential health risks of long-term exposure to pesticides. The equipment is set up in Shafter in Kern County, Ripon in San Joaquin County as well as in Salinas in Monterey County. The air monitoring network is the first of its kind in the nation. DPR will monitor for 34 pesticides, including six fumigants and 11 organophosphates. DPR selected the pesticides based on the amount of use and their potential health risks. Shafter, Salinas and Ripon were selected from a list of 226 communities based on pesticide use on surrounding farmland and demographics, including percentage of children, the elderly and farm workers.  If it has the money, may expand the air network in the future to include more frequent sampling, more pesticides or more communities, it says.

  • DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam  Resigns - -  Mary-Ann Warmerdam has resigned as director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), effective March 29, 2011 to accept a position with Clorox Co. in the technology and stewardship division. Warmerdam was appointed director in September 2004 by former Gov. Schwarzenegger. “The past seven years have been both rewarding and challenging,” Warmerdam said. “It has been my pleasure to head a department that is recognized for its leadership role on the international stage for regulating pesticides to protect public health, worker safety and the environment. I appreciate the trust and confidence Gov. Brown and Gov. Schwarzenegger placed in me.” Warmerdam said her position with Clorox provides an opportunity to grow both professionally and personally.

Air Quality

  • Judge suspends Calif.'s 'cap and trade' program  - - A judge has temporarily halted California's ambitious program to provide financial incentives for the state's largest polluters to cut harmful greenhouse gas emissions.  San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith said on March 21, 2011 the state failed to properly consider alternatives to its so-called "cap-and-trade" program, a key piece of its landmark global warming law, AB32. Goldsmith ruled that the failure to consider alternatives violated state environmental law, so the California Air Resources Board must conduct further review before implementing the plan. The board adopted the plan in December.  The legal challenge was brought by environmental groups, who argue the program allows polluters who are primarily located in poor neighborhoods to continue polluting by buying "carbon credits" from projects located elsewhere

  • Ag diesel truck deadline extended to April 29 - - The state Air Resources Board has extended from March 31 until April 29 the deadline for ag diesel truck owners who have applied for ag extensions to submit information about qualifying vehicles. The air board mailed letters earlier in the year listing the trucks that producers had previously reported as eligible for exemption, identifying potential errors, and asking producers to report the mileage on those trucks as of Jan. 1, 2011. A listing of upcoming workshops to help producers comply with the reporting requirements can be found by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  The ARB’s preference is for on-line reporting, although paper forms are available. The letters will include online account information so that fleets can use the online system to view and update their records. Many truck owners have not yet received their letter from ARB containing their login and password information. Dairy producers who do not receive those letters within the next two weeks are encouraged to contact the ARB. The online reporting system is available at http://www.arb.ca.gov/trucrsreporting/.   Agricultural fleets that reported in 2010 can login to the online system to provide January 1, 2011 odometer readings and update vehicle information for 2011.  Fleets that are reporting for the first time can create an account and enter their information directly online without using paper reporting forms.  For fleets that do not have internet access, please call 866-6DIESEL (866-634-3735) to request copies by mail.

Water

  • Congressional Subcommittee to Hold Valley Water Hearing April 11 - - Valley lawmakers, Rep. Tom McClintock, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) announced this week that they will hold a water hearing at Fresno’s City Council Chambers on April 11 at 10 a.m. The theme of the hearing is, “Creating Jobs by Overcoming Man-Made Drought: Time for Congress to Listen and Act.” In the announcement, Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. McClintock said, "The deliberate diversions by the federal government of over 303 billion gallons of water away from the breadbasket of America cost tens of thousands of farm workers their jobs, inflicted up to 40 percent unemployment rates in the region, fallowed more than 150,000 acres of the most fertile farmland in our nation, and forced up the price of groceries across the country. The facts we gather from this hearing will be instrumental as we begin the process to rescind government policies at the root of the San Joaquin Valley’s misery.” The field hearing is an opportunity for Valley residents to be heard and will also examine the impacts of regulations, such as the Endangered Species Act, on water allocations.

  • Water allotment to Westside farmers rises to 65% - -Westside farmers will receive 65% of their allocation of water from the Central Valley Project, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said March 28, 2011. The improved outlook is the result of steady rain and snow over the last two months. Last week, the bureau increased the farmers' allocation from 50% to 55%. Federal officials said they will continue to monitor the state's water supply, and further increases in the allocation are possible.

Congress

  • U.S. House votes to block pesticide permit requirement - - The U.S. House on March 31 passed a bill eliminating a proposed requirement that irrigation districts, mosquito control districts and others that treat large acreages obtain a separate permit for applying pesticides on or near water. HR 872 clarifies pesticide law by amending the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Clean Water Act in such a way that eliminates the need for the additional permit. Pesticide applications already are regulated under FIFRA, bill backers contend. The proposed EPA rule would require a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit -- issued under the Clean Water Act -- for applying pesticides near water. EPA proposed the new rule in response to a 2009 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.  
     

  • House repeals EPA greenhouse gas rule but Senate upholds it - - The House passed H.R. 910 on April 8, 2011 repealing EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. 19 Democrats joined all Republicans in the 255-172 vote to reverse the climate legislation passed by the last Congress. A companion measure failed in the Senate on Wednesday, April 7, 2011. President Obama says he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.  The Senate voted down a handful of proposals that sought to restrict or altogether block the Obama administration from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions. But even though the proposals failed in the Senate, one broad-reaching measure received 50 votes and gained the support of four Democrats, demonstrating weakening support on Capitol Hill for the administration's actions. The measure, introduced by Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ken.) and Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), would have blocked the EA from regulating greenhouse gases for the purposes of addressing climate change.
     

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