Pesticides Found to be below Health Concern Level for Second Year in a Row!

For the second year in a row the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s Air Monitoring Network found all pesticides monitored to be below levels that would indicate a health concern in 2016! DPR monitored 37 different chemicals, made up of 32 pesticides and five breakdown products. Of these different monitored chemicals 12 were not detected at all, 14 were detected at trace levels and 11 were detected at quantifiable levels. Of DPR’s 5,928 analyses 91 percent had no detectable concentrations. Among the chemicals that were detected at “quantifiable concentrations”, 91 percent of these detections were from carbon disulfide. In DPR’s report it is noted that there are no current product registrations for carbon disulfide. DPR notes that it is most likely present due to combustion form industrial facilities or is present due to decomposition occurring in wetland areas. For these reasons, DPR will no longer monitor this chemical.

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Air Testing.  Photo courtesy of CDPR
Photo courtesy of CDPR

Association Supports Sites Reservoir Project

In a recent letter of support for the Sites Reservoir Project, the Association stated “After the entire state was crippled by several years of drought, it is increasingly evident that innovative water storage projects are needed. The Sites Project would create an additional 1.8 million acre-feet of storage which would produce up to 500,000 acre-feet of supplies to California’s water system annually. This water would be extremely valuable in helping achieve a more efficient and reliable water supply system. Capturing and capitalizing on years of increased precipitation would not only help keep families and farms in business but it would also generate economic growth, produce jobs and help California achieve ecosystem benefits.”  The letter of support was submitted to the Sites Project Authority for inclusion in their application to the California Water Commission for Proposition 1 Water Storage Investment Program funding.

The Association would like to take this opportunity to apologize to our Sacramento Valley members who might have been taken back by our Latest News Bulletin yesterday.  The Association fully supports both projects and does not favor one project over the other.  This has been conveyed to the California Water Commission (CWC) in letters of support and in testimony to the CWC given by Association President/CEO Roger Isom.  The Association apologizes for the misstatement and wants to assure all of our members that we fully support water storage wherever and whenever we can get it.  It has been, and always will be, a pillar of our efforts and activities. 

Temperance Flat Takes Momentous Step Forward

The San Joaquin Water Infrastructure Authority (SJVWIA) took a momentous step to secure additional water storage for California. The SJVWIA submitted an application to apply for a little over 1.3 billion dollars from the Proposition 1 (Water Bond) Water Storage Investment Program to construct the Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir Project. The project would provide an additional 1.3 million acre-feet of aboveground storage to capture and store high flows in above average water years. The project would be constructed about 6.5 miles upstream from Friant Dam, whose current capacity is only 520,000 acre feet. Chairman of the Western Agricultural Processors Association, Michael Kelley, commended the work of the SJVWIA and noted that Temperance Flat stands out as the best project for the California Water Commission to invest into to benefit agriculture, jobs, and provide a sustainable water supply. There is a long road ahead of us but the Association will continue its support to see this project through until the end!

Reminder – FSMA Compliance date extension for facilities that hull, shell, pack and/or hold nuts.

Back in August of 2016 FDA extended compliance dates for facilities that are covered by the two Preventive Controls rules for human and animal food, including CGMPs, and are solely engaged in packing and/or holding produce raw agricultural commodities, extended to align with the compliance dates for farms conducting similar activities under the Produce Safety Rule (PSR). This extension includes facilities that hull, shell, pack and/or hold nuts. The earliest compliance date is January 26, 2018 for the Preventative Control rule for Human food. The earliest compliance date for the Animal Food Rule is January 28, 2019 since tree nut hullers are exempt from the CGMP portion of this particular rule. 

For tree nut facilities who are classified as a farm, you fall into the PSR. The earliest compliance date for the PSR is January 26, 2018. 

The Western Agricultural Processors Association continues to work with FDA to classify all tree nut hullers as farms and therefore become exempt from the both of the Preventive Controls for Human Food and Animal Food. There has been some confusion recently about compliance dates but for now, be assured your compliance date is not until the beginning of 2018. We will keep you updated!

Association Testifies at PUC Hearing on PG&E General Rate Case          

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held an outreach hearing yesterday in Stockton to discuss the impacts of the proposed rate structure under the 2017 PG&E General Rate Case (GRC).  Association President/CEO Roger Isom testified at the hearing by demanding that this “not just be another meeting!  Electricity prices are already too high!”  The hearing was to take public comments on the Phase 2 portion of the 2017 PG&E GRC.  CPUC Administrative Law Judge Michele Cooke presided over the hearing since she is the ALJ assigned to this case and will ultimately be making the recommendation to the Commissioners on the GRC.  During the hearing, Isom specifically commented on the proposed rates for cotton gins, and tree nut hullers and processors.  Isom also expressed major concerns with shifting the “peak period” and the impact it would have on growers in terms of irrigation scheduling and on the businesses that installed solar and made financials decisions on an assumed rate of return that would now be completely turned upside down. The meeting was fairly well attended, especially by growers and members of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau.  These growers did an outstanding job of expressing their specific concerns with changing the time of use periods.  Phase 2 of the GRC is where rates are divided up amongst the various rate classes and those negotiations are ongoing.  This was an important meeting where industry could express their specific concerns outside of the negotiations. 

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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.).