January 9, 2012
Almond Board
California Legislative Report: Update on Issues Affecting California's Almond Industry

State Budget

  • CDFA budget cuts total $12 million - - Gov. Brown outlined his proposed 2012-2013 budget on Jan, 5, 2012.The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)2012-2013 budget contains $12 million in General Fund reductions, which were negotiated by the stakeholder consortium developed by CDFA Secretary, Karen Ross. The budget includes $4.38 million in cuts to border station inspections, eliminates state funds for the Light Brown Apple Moth program (federal funds remain), decreases funding to the biocontrol program by $701,000, reduces plant pest diagnostics and seed labs by $366,000 and cuts the animal health program by $245,000, among other reductions. In addition, $2.4 million in CDFA cuts are still being discussed at this time. The $12 million in reductions are in addition to the $19 million in cuts already made to CDFA in the current-year budget.

    As part of the budget reductions, alternative funding solutions of roughly $3 million will be achieved through increases in phytosanitary certificates, master certificates, device fees and dairy inspection programs. The phytosanitary fees to CDFA will support the following areas:

    • Creation and maintenance of pest-free areas; these areas conform to international standards
    • Emergency Quarantine Response Program
    • Pest Detection Program
    • Emergency Pest Eradication Program
    • Exotic Pest Trapping
    • Plant Pest Diagnostics Laboratory
    • Trade Facilitation

State Agency Appointments

  • New CalEPA Undersecretary named - -  Gordon Burns, 51, of Davis, has been appointed undersecretary at the California Environmental Protection Agency. Burns has been an attorney for the Resources Law Group since 2010. He was deputy solicitor general at the U.S. Office of the Solicitor General from 2006 to 2010 and deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice from 1996 to 2006. From 1994 to 1996, Burns was an attorney at Downey Brand Seymour and Rohwer.  In his previous role as Deputy Attorney General in the Public Rights Division, he represented clients on a wide variety of natural resources matters, including water supplies, planning, and regulatory takings. He filed an innovative lawsuit to restore sixty miles of the Lower Owens River and represented the California Attorney General in a key Supreme Court case on supplying water for future urban growth. Mr. Burns has authored amicus curiae briefs in environmental cases at all levels of the state and federal courts. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $145,000. Burns is a Democrat.

  • Brown names director of state Conservation Department - - Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Mark Nechodom, a senior adviser to the undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the husband of Secretary of State Debra Bowen, to be director of the California Department of Conservation. Nechodom, 56, replaces Derek Chernow, the acting director Brown fired last month.  Like Brown, Nechodom is a Democrat. He was previously acting director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Environmental Markets and senior climate policy adviser for the U.S. Forest Service. The position, which requires Senate confirmation, pays $136,156 a year.


  • Four members named to Central Valley Water Board - - Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed four new members to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The appointees require Senate confirmation and compensation is $100 per diem. The appointees are:  

    Jon Costantino, 42, of Grass Valley, a senior advisor at Manatt Phelps and Phillips, LLP since 2010. Costantino was a climate change planning manager at the California Air Resources Board from 2007 to 2010 and a legislative analyst there from 2000 to 2007. He was an air pollution engineer at the Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District from 1992 to 2000. Costantino is registered decline-to-state. 

    Jennifer Lester Moffitt, 31, of Yolo, has been managing director of Dixon Ridge Farms, an organic walnut farm and processor, since 2006 and marketer at Dixon Ridge Farms from 2004 to 2006. Moffitt served as an education, outreach and research specialist for the American Farmland Trust from 2002 to 2005. She was appointed to the food safety working group of the California Walnut Board in 2009. Moffitt is a Democrat.   

    Carmen Ramirez, 35, of Atwater, has been counsel in the Law Offices of Fagalde, Albertoni and Flores, LLP since 2010. Ramirez was an associate attorney with Allen, Fagalde, Albertoni and Flores from 2009 to 2010. She was a redevelopment associate for the City of Merced Office of Economic Development from 2003 to 2007. Ramirez received her Juris Doctor degree from the San Joaquin College of Law. Ramirez is a Democrat.  

    Robert Schneider, 63, of Davis, previously served as a member from 2000 to 2006. He has been a partner Verve Enterprises since 1995. Schneider was a partner at Bob Schneider Contractor, Ridge Builders Group, West Davis Associates from 1977 to 1997. Schneider is a Democrat.

  • DWR Sets Initial 2012 Water Estimate at 60% - - The Department of Water Resources on Nov. 22, 2011 announced an initial allocation of 60% of requested deliveries to State Water Project contractors for 2012. The initial allocation -- or water delivery estimate -- is always conservative because it is made before the major winter storms that supply reservoir storage. Today's initial 60% allocation is relatively high due to carryover storage from unusually wet conditions last winter. Just a normal winter will significantly increase today's allocation of 60% of the slightly more than 4 million acre-feet requested by the 29 public agencies (contractors) that supply water to more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of irrigated farmland.
  • New report shows California agriculture already water-efficient - - Claims that California farmers are wasteful and inefficient in managing their water supplies are inaccurate, according to a new report released by the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) at California State University, Fresno. The report “Agricultural Water Use in California: A 2011 Update” also refutes assertions by some that large volumes of “new water” would be available through agricultural water conservation. The findings are based on a thorough review of published research and technical data as well as state of California publications to assess the overall potential for agricultural water-use efficiency to provide new water supplies. The report found that little potential exists for new water unless large swaths of agricultural land are taken out of production, which technically is not water-use efficiency.
  • Lawsuit filed against farm discharges into San Joaquin River - - California fishing and conservation groups filed a lawsuit Nov. 9, 2011 in federal court, accusing farmers of illegally discharging polluted groundwater into tributaries of the San Joaquin River. The suit claims the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority allowed contaminated groundwater to co-mingle with irrigation drain water. The mixture was then discharged without a federal wastewater permit into a canal and a slough that feed to the San Joaquin River and San Francisco Bay-Delta, the lawsuit states. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Lynnette Wirth declined to comment on the litigation. In a press release, officials with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority said the lawsuit wastes taxpayers' money and fails to recognize the benefits of a federal water project that's used to manage agricultural drainage. Any facility that discharges wastewater directly to surface water must obtain a wastewater discharge permit from the U.S. EPA or the state. While irrigation drain water is exempt from the permitting process, polluted groundwater isn't. The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority is made up of 29 districts, seven of which discharge agricultural runoff into the San Luis Drain and the Mud Slough, a tributary of the San Joaquin River.


  • Pest Management Alliance Grant Applications Available in Early January - - The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently announced that the Pest Management Alliance Grant process will open the first week of January. The grant program provides $400,000 in funding for qualified projects adopting proven, effective integrated pest management practices (IPM) that reduce risks to human health and the environment.
    Projects should focus on agricultural and urban IPM practices in the following areas:
    ● Ensuring worker health and safety
    ● Improving ground and surface water quality
    ● Structural pest management
    ● Home garden and landscaping
    ● Protecting endangered species
    ● Reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions
    The new 2012-2013 applications will be available via the DPR website in early January. For detailed information regarding the application process, and to view past projects funded through the program, click here. Please contact Ann Schaffner at ph. 916-324-4156 or aschaffner@cdpr.ca.gov  if you have any questions.

  • Pesticide Use in California Increases after Four-Year Decline - -  Pesticide use in California rose in 2010 after declining for four consecutive years, according to data released today by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). More than 173 million pounds of pesticides were reported applied statewide, an increase of nearly 15 million pounds – or 9.5 percent – from 2009. The increase reflected a 15 percent jump in acres treated with pesticides – up 9.7 million acres to a total of 75 million acres in 2010. Summary of Pesticide Use Report Data 2010. As in previous years, sulfur was the most highly used pesticide in both pounds applied and acres treated. By pounds, sulfur accounted for 27 percent of all reported pesticide use. Its use grew by 4.4 million pounds, or 10 percent, and 141,826 acres, or 9 percent. Pesticides with the greatest increase in pounds applied included 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), a fumigant whose use went up by 2.4 million pounds, or 37 percent. It is used on strawberries, almonds, sweet potatoes, carrots, and table and raisin grapes. This fumigant is an alternative to methyl bromide, which is being phased out under an international treaty to protect the ozone layer.


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