WAPA Submits Comments on Copper Restrictions

The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) submitted comments opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to reduce the pounds allowed to be applied for copper and copper containing products. The Association’s comments highlighted the critical need to maintain the current thresholds given the importance of having copper available to control tree nut diseases, such as walnut blight. In addition the Association noted that maintaining the current allowable levels will continue to delay the onset of disease resistance

East San Joaquin Revised Order Draft Released, Workshop Dates Set

Last month, the State Water Board released a second draft of their Proposed East San Joaquin Order.  This Order aims to strengthen groundwater quality protection by leveraging stronger monitoring and field level requirements on growers and coalitions, and the Order is precedential in that it can be applicable to all Coalitions throughout the State.  The recently released draft has several key changes to various requirements set forth in the order, primarily the inclusion of more stringent surface water monitoring throughout the state.  This newly added requirement will undoubtedly result in higher fees to stakeholders due to the newly incurred cost at the Coalition level for this kind of monitoring.  Other changes include the elimination of township level data aggregation, this provision is being replaced by individual operation data being submitted to the Regional Board with only the name of the operation being withheld by the Coalitions.  Another major change is that growers in Low Vulnerability areas must have their Nitrogen & Irrigation Management Plans signed off on by a CCA or other certified source.  This was not a requirement in the previous draft, although the State Water Board was trying to designate the entire State as being in High Vulnerability to groundwater quality.

The State Water Board will be hosting 2 workshops on this specific topic within the month of November, as well as holding a specific workshop in front of the entire Board during the month of December.  A workshop will be held in Fresno on November 27th, and an additional workshop will be held in Redding on November 30th.  We will be developing talking points to distribute amongst the membership, and we encourage you to participate in the Board Hearing as well as the workshop that is closest to you.  We would also encourage you to submit written comments to the Board, as these will be reviewed and considered for the final draft to be released this next year.  For more information on the proposed workshops, please visit the link below.


Senate Tax Bill Proposes to Eliminate IC-DISC: Could Cost Nut Industry Millions

Unlike the House Tax Reform Legislation, HR 1, passed this past week, the Senate Finance Committee similarly passed its version of the tax reform legislation, which unfortunately contains specific language that repeals the IC-DISC provisions.  The IC-DISC tax savings are achieved from a reduced 20% U.S. capital gains tax rate on at least half of the income derived from qualifying products, in lieu of the normal Federal tax rate which can be almost 40%.  IC‐DISC stands for “Interest Charge – Domestic International Sales Corporation,” a tax incentive which was introduced by Congress in its current form in 1984.  It was designed to provide a U.S. tax incentive to stimulate U.S. export activities.  The IC‐DISC is relatively unknown and often overlooked because other alternative tax incentives were more often used until the last remaining alternative was eliminated in 2006.  This is a critical tool for the tree nut industry, which exports the majority of its product.  The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) is actively working against these provisions, through our Senate and House Representatives, and in conjunction with a national coalition working to preserve IC-DISC.

Association Submits Comments Supporting FDA’s Proposed Compliance Extension for Agricultural Water Requirements

This week, the Association submitted comments supporting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed extension of compliance dates for subpart E, agricultural water under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  On September 13, 2017, the FDA released for comment the proposed extension titled “Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption; Extension of Compliance Dates for Subpart E”. The final rule had set an initial compliance date January 2020 for the certain portions of the agricultural water requirements. The proposal intends to extend the compliance date an additional two years, with the initial compliance date being January 2022 for large farms. In addition, FDA has proposed simplifying the compliance structure of the Subpart E, so that all provisions of the subpart would occur at the same time.  


The additional proposed time will provide the FDA and tree nut industry the opportunity to further research issues and concerns that have risen from the agricultural water provisions to determine the most practicable approach to comply. Some of these issues include the financial burden of the testing requirements and water treatment methods. In additional, as FDA has noted in the proposed extension, the agency intends to consider approaches to address these issues to further reduce the regulatory burden on the agriculture industry as a whole. WAPA is prepared to work with the FDA to find solutions that will be suitable for the tree nut industry.

Association Testifies at Yet Another PM2.5 Workshop

Association President/CEO Roger Isom provided testimony at today’s Public Advisory Workgroup (PAW) meeting on the PM2.5 State Implementation Plant (SIP) at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD).  The 12th such workshop, which does include the four Air Resources Board (ARB) and SJVAPCD Board Briefings, was held to provide an update on the development of the SIP which will be considered and voted on by the SJVAPCD Governing Board in March of 2018 and by the ARB Board in April of 2018.  The Association has been present and testified at every single one.  Isom’s comments focused on the SJVAPCD’s proposal to electrify more ag pump engines, use incentive funds in “hot spots” areas for tractor and harvesters, as well as looking at new Conservation Management Practices (CMPs).  Isom also commented on the ARB’s proposal to have a tractor rule that would put forth a date by which tractors would have to be replaced with Tier 4 engines.   “Incentive funds are the only way agriculture can address a tractor replacement regulation.  We cannot pass along the cost, like other industries”.  With regards to the electrification issue, Isom commented that there needs to be a meeting of the agencies, including the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as the utilities are proposing to change their rates which would have a direct negative impact on further electrification.  Stay tuned as this issue continues to move towards Board adoption. 

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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.).