Air Resources Board Releases SLCP Proposed Strategy

Earlier this month, California Air Resources Board released a Proposed Strategy to address Short-Lived Climate Pollutants.  This proposed strategy aims to reduce emissions for pollutants that do have a shorter lifespan in the atmosphere, but have the potential to heat that atmosphere exponentially higher than what CO2 can.  Some of the mitigation measures presented in the package by ARB include diversion of material from landfills, incentive investment in smaller communities, and a focus on the development of technology that could lower SLCP emissions.  There are 3 major SLCP’s that are the focus of ARB in this proposed order.  Black Carbon is the particulate matter generated by the burning of fuels, Methane is also a major contributor to SLCP’s, and fluorinated gases are considered one of the heaviest polluters in the SLCP inventory.  Black Carbon is also represented in the Ag industry through the use of combustible on-road and off-road equipment.  Methane is a major focus for the dairy industry, whereas fluorinated gases are a major concern for commodity groups throughout the state that utilize refrigeration transportation to ship and store their products.

The Association has been engaged with California Air Resources Board throughout their drafting process.  The Association has taken the opportunity to comment on the Proposed Strategy on several occasions, through written submissions as well as testimony during workshops.  One of the key points that the Association has lobbied for is the continued inflow of incentive funding to help replace older equipment, to newer and cleaner technologies.  Incentive money dedicated to the Central Valley has already helped exceed expected emissions reductions tremendously.  Incentive funding also goes towards replacing older refrigeration systems (fluorinated gas systems) and replacing them with newer, lower emitting systems.  The Association has also pointed out that reductions efforts could be greater if biomass and co-generation plants remained operational.  The lack of facilities have left growers with few answers on how to deal with removed orchards and vineyards, and one of the only solutions is to allow temporary burning of the material. Another point made by the Association focused on the overregulation of permitting on site composting operations.  In order to compost on one’s own property, an applicant is required to obtain 4 separate permits from 4 different government agencies.  The Association hopes to achieve a more streamlined approach to applying for a composting permit and contributing to the State of California’s Healthy Soils Initiative.  Stay tuned for more updates.


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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.).