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

Water

  • UC Davis study on nitrates in groundwater set for release March 13 - - On March 6, Almond Board of California staff attended a briefing to California agriculture groups on recent findings from two University of California studies regarding nitrogen use in California agriculture and its impact on water quality. The studies clearly state that agriculture is one of the primary sources of nitrates in drinking water. The studies will become public on March 13 and can be expected to generate interest from stakeholders and media about agriculture’s use of nitrogen in general and some crops in particular, likely including almonds. The State Water Board commissioned the report in response to mandates from the state legislature that it develop recommendations to address the issue of nitrate contamination in groundwater in the Tulare Lake and Salinas basins. Authored by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, the study reviewed available data to understand the extent of nitrate contamination, past and present sources, and possible solutions for cleaning up contaminated drinking water, especially in poorer communities. The report suggests additional taxes be placed on nitrogen fertilizers to incentivize growers to apply less N in the field, and to help fund short-term efforts to get clean drinking water to impacted communities. It also recommends more extensive reporting requirements through fertilizer use reporting or a documented nutrient budgeting approach. The report will influence regulations currently being finalized for groundwater waste discharge through the Irrigated Lands Program. State law SBX2 1 requires the Central Valley Regional Water Board and the Central Coast Regional Water Board to implement recommendations within two years of the report being finalized. However, the State Water Board is planning to hold a public workshop in Sacramento May 23 before finalizing the recommendations to the state legislature sometime in 2012. For full details of the report log on to www.groundwaternitrate.ucdavis.edu   or visit the Almond Board website (www.almondboard.com) for details about the May public workshop.

  • Almond Board of California hosts April 3 symposium on California’s water policy challenges - - Water is the life blood of the California almond industry, the leading California tree nut crop both in dollar value and acreage. There is little disagreement that California’s water infrastructure is inadequate to meet the growing demands placed on it and plenty of agreement something needs to be done. The complexities of California water policies will be examined on April 3 when the Almond Board of California hosts an informational symposium on “Water in California: Present Realities - Future Implications”.  Designed to inform almond industry members about the many water policy challenges facing one of California’s most valuable crops, the half-day symposium offers two panels of influential water resource leaders and policy makers. The first panel will provide historical contexts, discussions on the diverse interests and issues present, as well as sociological, economic, geomorphic and environmental considerations. The significance of the Delta region in particular in statewide issues will also be highlighted. A second panel will discuss the implications of present realities on future planning and development efforts, regulatory considerations and actions as well as water management opportunities. Built into the symposium will be ample opportunities for growers and handlers to ask questions. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., including lunch, in the Stanislaus Room of Modesto Plaza Centre Plaza, 1150 Ninth Street, Modesto. Registration information and further information is available by contacting Lynn Jordan at ljordan@almondboard.com  or (209) 343-3237. 

  • House approves California water bill - - The House, by a 246-175 margin, has approved the legislation which would lengthen irrigation contracts, override state law and boost deliveries to farms south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Most dramatically, the bill replaces one San Joaquin River restoration plan with something far less ambitious. "Flushing water into San Francisco Bay is not helping to recover species, and people are suffering needlessly," said bill author Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Visalia) adding later that his bill "gives (water) reliability, not only to farms but to the environment." Joined by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, Nunes introduced  HR 1837the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act last year in response to repeated severe cutbacks in irrigation water deliveries south of the Delta. The legislation returns federal irrigation contracts to 40 years, rather than the 25-year limit imposed in 1992. It eases water transfers and preempts strict state laws that might impose stricter environmental standards. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate where Sen. Dianne Feinstein has vowed to block it.

State Agency Appointments

  • New DPR director sworn in - - Brian R. Leahy was appointed director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) on Feb. 2, 2012, by Governor Brown and recently sworn in. Prior to joining DPR, Leahy served as assistant director for the Division of Land Resource Protection in the California Department of Conservation for five years. His focus was the potential for maximizing the benefits from open space management, including farmland management, to improve public health, transportation, biodiversity, climate change adaptation and natural resources. Leahy served as executive director for the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts from 2004 to 2006 and executive director for the California Certified Organic Farmers from 2000 to 2004. In addition, Christopher Reardon was will continue serving as  DPR’s Chief Deputy Director. He was originally appointed on February 1, 2008, by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Air Quality

  • March 30 deadline for ARB ag truck 2011 mileage reporting - - The state air board has extended the heavy-duty diesel truck electronic reporting deadline to March 30, 2012. Reports can now be filed electronically at http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onrdiesel/reportinginfo.htm.  The mileage report is required for diesel trucks signed up with the air board as agricultural or “AG” trucks. AG trucks are required to stay under specific mileage thresholds, and their 2011 mileage must be reported to air board by the deadline. Besides the AG provision, the diesel truck regulation has other special provisions that lengthen some or all of the compliance requirements. If growers have trucks not covered under the AG exemption (because they exceed the mileage thresholds or did not report, for instance) they may still be covered by other exemptions that also require reporting. An example would be the small fleet exemption that delays retrofit requirements for fleets with three or fewer trucks. Owners of those fleets may have to report this month depending on the age of the trucks. For more information call the diesel hotline at (866) 634-3735 The air board offers several programs that provide grants, loans and loan guarantees, vouchers, or rebates to help truck and equipment owners with the purchase of cleaner diesel trucks and equipment.

 

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