September 11, 2012
Almond Board
Almond Board of California Legislative Report: Update on Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

Congress

  • Congress returns from summer recess with Farm Bill still undecided - - Congress returned to work  Sept 10, 2012 after a summer recess with the fate of the Farm Bill still undecided. The House Agriculture Committee and the Senate have approved plans to reauthorize the five-year law, which expires Sept. 30. House Republican leaders have not set a vote on their legislation. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy Monday said he hopes members will approve the Agriculture Committee plan this month. If time runs out, “then we’ll have to deal with that issue,” said McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) declining to specify what short-term options might be available. If a new Farm Bill is not approved or extended by Sept. 30, the bill will revert to the 1949 provisions of the original Agricultural Act of 1949.

State Legislature

  • Assembly rejects farm worker overtime legislation  - -  Legislation that would have repealed the longstanding 10-hour daily overtime requirement for agricultural employees was rejected in the state Assembly on Aug. 31, 2012 as 19 Democrats, particularly those running this year in agricultural districts, refused to vote for it. The measure, Assembly Bill 1313, received just 33 votes, eight short of the 41 required, despite hours of effort by the United Farm Workers union to persuade more Democrats to support it. Two Democrats - Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills and Richard Pan of Sacramento - voted against the bill, along with 28 Republicans, while 17 other Democrats refused to vote at all.

  • Two ag heat bills sent to Gov. Brown - - Two bills were approved approved by the state Legislature that deal with heat standards for farmworkers and are now awaiting consideration by Gov. Brown. AB 2346 by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles) creates new standards for protecting farmworkers from heat-related illness. Under AB 2676 by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) farmers could be jailed for failing to provide field workers with adequate shade or water. The measure requires that anyone directing or supervising a farmworker must ensure “continuous, ready access” to shade and to enough “suitably cool” water for each employee to drink one quart per hour throughout a work shift. Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor subject to a six-month jail term and a fine of up to $10,000. If the victim suffers injury, the potential penalty would escalate to a one-year jail term and a $25,000 fine. The Governor has until Sept. 30 to take action on the bills.

  • California Legislator Voting Record on-line - - For the first time, you can look up the voting record of every state legislator in California. Wondering how often your legislator broke party ranks, abstained or switched sides? Enter the last and first name of the lawmaker you're researching to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. The online database is located at http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/

UC Davis

  • UC Davis names interim Ag Dean - - Professor Mary Delany, a distinguished avian geneticist who has served as an associate dean of the University of California, Davis, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) since 2009, has been appointed interim dean of the college, effective September 10, 2012. Professor Delany will serve in this capacity for the duration of an international search for a permanent successor to outgoing dean Neal Van Alfen. Professor Delany joined the UC Davis faculty in 1995 with joint faculty appointments in the departments of Avian Sciences and Animal Science (the departments merged in 1997). She chaired the Department of Animal Science from 2005 to 2009 and was named to the John and Joan Fiddyment Endowed Chair in Agriculture in 2009.

Air Quality

  • EPA approves California air quality plan - - The Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (DPR) plan to improve air quality by reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from pesticide applications has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region, DPR Director Brian R. Leahy announced. Amendments to the State Implementation Plan, or SIP, were approved Aug. 14, including regulations to reduce VOC emissions from fumigant pesticides in several areas of the state that do not meet federal air quality standards. The federal Clean Air Act requires each state to develop a SIP for achieving and maintaining federal air quality standards for ozone, a major air pollutant. VOCs combine with nitrogen oxides in sunlight to form ozone. “California is the first state in the nation to specifically regulate agricultural pesticide applications to improve air quality,” Leahy said. “VOC emissions from fumigant pesticides declined significantly in the two years after the regulations took effect in 2008.”

  • Off-road Mobile Ag Equipment Regulation Workshop Sept. 18 - - Sept. 7, 2012 - - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is holding its first public workshop to discuss the development of the In-Use Self-Propelled Off-road Mobile Agricultural Equipment Regulation (mobile ag regulation). The workshop will be held in Sacramento on Tuesday, September 18, from 3-5 p.m. at the California Air Resources Board, Sierra Hearing Room, 1001 I Street. More information is available from Lynsay Carmichael by email lcarmich@arb.ca.gov  or phone at (916) 322-0407.

Ballot Measures

  • Informational hearing on GMO labeling ballot measure set for Sept. 11- - A joint state Assembly and Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Prop. 37, which would require the labeling of all GMO food, will be held Sept. 11, 2012.  Details are expected to be announced soon on meeting time, location and witnesses.  If it passes, California would be the first state to require labeling of such a wide range of foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The proposal would require most processed foods by 2014 to bear a label telling shoppers that they contain ingredients derived from plants whose DNA was altered with genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria.

Water

  • Water Board appointee Felicia Marcus confirmed by State Senate - - The State Senate has voted to confirm Felicia Marcus as a member of the State Water Resources Control Board following the August 15 recommendation by the Senate Rules Committee that she serve on the board. On May 10, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Marcus to the State Water Board. The five member State Water Board is responsible for protecting all water quality and water supplies in California. The Board is also responsible for the allocation of surface water supplies for agricultural, public trust, and urban purposes throughout the state. Marcus was Western Director at the Natural Resources DefenseCouncil since 2008 and was Executive Vice-president and Chief Operating Officer at the Trust for Public Land from 2001 to 2008. She served as the Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX from 1993 to 2001. She was a Member of the Delta Stewardship Council from 2010 until she joined the State Board.

  • 'The Fight For Water'  documentary details Central Valley struggle - - When an environmental ruling shut down the water pumps to a region of the California Central Valley in 2009, a community of valley farmers and their farm workers staged a march across the Central Valley in order to fight for their water because to them, water is not only their means of survival, it is a chance for a better future for them and their families. The Fight For Water, by film producer Juan Carlos Oseguera, is scheduled to be shown on September 21 at the Westside Theater in Newman, California and will be coming soon to other theaters in the Valley. It has been selected for screening at the Twain Harte Film Festival and also the ITSA Film festival. For more information on The Fight For Water, visit their web site at http://www.thefightforwaterfilm.com/  where you can watch the trailer and read more about the production and people behind the film.

 

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