Association Attends Meeting with Senator Butler and Congressman Costa

This past week, Association President/CEO Roger A. Isom attended and spoke at an invitation only meeting with United States Senator Laphonza Butler and Congressman Jim Costa.  Representatives from Westlands Water District, Friant Water Authority, San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority joined representatives from the Nisei Farmers League, California Fresh Fruit Association, African American Farmers of California, Fresno County Farm Bureau, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association and the Western Agricultural Processors Association.  Discussions focused on water, immigration, exports and equity.  Isom commented on lack of water is impacting crops in the San Joaquin Valley and highlighted the efforts of the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint and its goal of attempting to makeup the 2 million acre-feet of water shortfall to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). 


Association President/CEO Isom Addresses APMA Convention

Association President/CEO Roger A. Isom gave the keynote address to more than 450 people at this year’s Ag Personal Management Association (APMA) 2024 Forum in Monterey. California.  Isom discussed the State’s push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to improve climate change, as well as the push to improve labor conditions and the alleged impacts of pesticide applications.  Isom highlighted rules and regulations devastating the agricultural industry based on hysteria and baseless claims.  Isom encouraged the crowd to “get involved” and help push back at hearings and workshops when agriculture is outnumbered every single time at rates as much as 10 to 1.   He stated “agriculture’s voice mush be heard, and the facts have to be presented above the noise of the accusations with no scientific basis to support them. 

WAPA Board Election Results

This past month, the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) sought nominations for five (5) open Board positions and received six (6) nominations, which included the five incumbents and one new nomination.  At the December Board Meeting, the WAPA Board members voted to expand the Board of Directors to 21 members, to forego an election and then appointed all six candidates to the Board.  Reelected to the Board of Directors was Pat Andersen of Andersen and Sons Shelling; Jason Baldwin, of Perfect PAC; Dwight Davis of ShoEi Foods; Kirk Squire, from Horizon Nut, and David Stanfield of Summerfield Farms.  Newly elected to the Board is Todd Crosswell, of JSS Almonds.  This brings the current number of directors on the Board to sixteen (16).

Association Testifies at CDPR Hearing on Statewide Notification

More than 50 people attended the public hearing last night in Clovis on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s (CDPR) proposed regulation to Provide Public Access to Pesticide Information Prior to Applications.  The Association’s President/CEO Roger A. Isom was in attended and spoke in opposition to the proposed regulation.   At the beginning of his comments Isom stated “CDPR is doing a disservice to the people in attendance here tonight and to all parties involved.  CDPR must explain the lengthy and robust process that every single pesticide goes through to become registered.  The restrictions on the labels come after years of testing and thorough review by the scientists at CDPR and EPA.  I do not believe CDPR would allow the use of any pesticide that would cause harm to any farmworker, resident, or innocent bystander.  So why is this regulation needed if the necessary precautions to ensure a safe environment are already in place.  CDPR needs to explain that”.

Many commenters blamed pesticides for cancer, asthma, valley fever and one even blamed pesticides for fading the color of her clothes within days of exposure to pesticides.  Another blamed pesticides for causing all the fallowed lands in western Fresno County stating “they must be contaminated from pesticides.”  Isom further commented “our opposition is not to the notification itself, but to the ramifications of the notification like we have seen in Monterey County where applications have been put on hold for weeks due to public appeals only to be approved in the end.”  Joining the Association in commenting was the Nisei Farmers League and several growers, PCAs and an aerial applicator.  Comments are being accepted until January 12th.

Association Part of Two Panels at the 2023 SJVAPCD Governing Board Study Session

Association President/CEO Roger A. Isom represented agricultural interests on two important panels at the 2023 San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Governing Board Study Session.  The two-day Study Session is held every year to allow the Governing Board to take a deeper dive into major issues facing the District.  The issue for the first panel was the topic of “Continued Efforts to Partner with Valley Agriculture to Reduce Nut Harvest Emissions”.  Isom kicked off the panel and focused on highlighting the existing incentive programs for “low dust harvesters”, as well as a need to expand the programs to include conditioners and “low dust conditioners”.  Isom further highlighted the need for research to support these efforts, while emphasizing the importance of incentives as the key to any successful and meaningful replacement  of this equipment, especially given current commodity pricing.  Joining Isom on the Panel were representatives from the Almond Board of California and the USDA NRCS.  On the second day, Association President/CEO Isom opened up the panel on the issue of “Zero-Emission Heavy Duty Vehicle and Equipment Infrastructure Challenges and Opportunities.”  Isom focused on major issues with the lack of infrastructure for both electric and hydrogen fuel sources, as well as major cost implications.  Isom commented that compliance dates need to be adjusted once we truly understand our infrastructure needs including how much, when and where the demand will be for either electricity or hydrogen.  He also stated that two rules are impacting agriculture in this matter, including the new truck rules and the proposed forklift rule, and stated incentives were needed to assist agriculture on both of these regulations.  Joining Isom on the panel were representatives from the California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, Go-BIZ and the California Transportation Commission.

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Governor Signs Ag Overtime Bill

Ignoring the pleas of real farmworkers and the agricultural industry, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed AB 1066, the ag overtime legislation. This means that California will have the most stringent trigger of any state in the country for overtime for farmworkers, with 45 states having no overtime protection at all. The Governor signed this bill, supposedly to bring “equality to all workers”, yet taxi cab drivers, commercial fishermen, car salesmen, student nurses, computer programmers, and carnival workers all work without any overtime provisions whatsoever. The Governor signed this ag overtime bill in the same year that minimum wage legislation was also passed that will take California to the highest minimum wage as well as legislation forcing California to adopt additional greenhouse gas regulations for businesses in California. California is the only state in the country subject to such regulations. Today’s signing occurred despite numerous requests by the agricultural industry to meet with the Governor to discuss our concerns. The message is clear. California simply doesn’t care. These provisions will be phased in over the next few years ending with the overtime provisions to be triggered at 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.

In the Beginning As folks transitioned out of cotton and into tree nuts, the industry recognized the need to have active and effective representation at the local, state and national levels. Having enjoyed such effective representation over the years from the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, these folks yearned for the same representation in the tree nut processing industry. Issues such as air quality, food safety, labor, taxes, employee safety, and environmental concerns are at the forefront, and there is a significant need for an aggressive and dynamic Association to lead the industry into the next decade and beyond. In recognition of this, the Western Agricultural Processors Association was created in 2009. The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) shares staff and office space with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations taking advantage of a unique and opportunistic situation. WAPA is a voluntary dues organization with four shared staff and one dedicated staff person. Regulatory, legislative and legal issues fall under the purview of this new organization for the tree nut processing industry, which includes almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. From air quality permits to conditional use permits, from regulatory hearings on greenhouse gases to federal legislation on food safety, and from OSHA violations to assisting members on hazardous materials business plans, no issue is too small or too large for WAPA. WAPA has assembled one of the best and most capable staffs in the industry, and the results are already starting to show Membership The Western Agricultural Processors Association represents facilities involved in the processing of almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.Membership in the Association is classified as Regular memberships are limited to almond hullers or processors, pecan and pistachio processors, and walnut dehydrators and processors. Associate memberships are limited to any individual or business entity which is not engaged in agricultural processing, but which provides products or services directly related to the agricultural processing industry. WAPA Associate members include, but are not limited to, commodity brokers, accounting firms, and insurance brokers. Organization The Western Agricultural Processors Association is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by its membership.The Board consists of up to 15 members from throughout the state, and throughout the industry.The Board meets on a quarterly basis and conducts an Annual Meeting in the spring of each year.WAPA, in conjunction with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, conducts a special training school for its members focused on safety.In combination with the school, the Association holds a Labor Management Seminar for all of the managers. Consulting Services In researching and considering the concept of forming a new organization, the Boards of Directors for the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations instructed staff to perform some of the work on a consulting basis first. The point was to determine the workload from consulting and to determine if there was sufficient interest. In November of 2007, the Association began conducting services under consulting contracts for such services as air quality permits and safety plans.The effort has been so successful that demand has progressed outside the tree nut industry into other agricultural processing facilities, including vegetable dehydration facilities, tomato processing facilities, and wheat mills, as well as cotton gins in Arizona.It was determined by the new Board of Directors of WAPA, that WAPA would maintain the consulting services to provide offsetting income to help with the expenses of getting the new organization up and running.Today, WAPA provides for a long list of satisfied clients in the agricultural processing industry, by providing critical services such as air quality, safety, food safety, and environmental issues (Hazardous Materials Business Plan, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans, etc.).