More than 200 Organizations Push Congress to Address Western Water Infrastructure

A national coalition of over 200 agricultural organizations and urban and rural water districts including the Western Agricultural Processors Association urged President-elect Joe Biden and congressional leadership today to address aging Western water infrastructure in any potential infrastructure or economic recovery package. The coalition includes organizations from 15 states that collectively represent $120 billion in agricultural production, nearly one-third of all agricultural production in the country, and tens of millions of urban and rural water users.  In separate letters to President-elect Biden and congressional leaders, the coalition said existing Western water infrastructure is in desperate need of rehabilitation and improvement. Most of the federal water projects in the West were built more than 50 years ago and were not designed with the present and future population demands and climate conditions in mind. Without immediate attention, the coalition said, the Western water system will quickly prove inadequate to meet the needs of urban and rural users and the environment.   The coalition encouraged the federal government to invest in a diversified water management portfolio that enhances water supply and quality for urban and environmental uses while keeping water flowing to Western farms. Specific recommendations include funding for:

• Water conservation.
• Water recycling, reuse and desalination projects.
• New water storage facilities, both surface and groundwater.
• Watershed management, fish passage and recovery, and habitat restoration.
• Federal financing mechanisms for water projects.
• Loans for local districts operating and maintaining federally owned irrigation projects.
• Water quality improvement for rural communities.

Beyond financial support, the coalition also called on the federal government to ensure the timely construction of water projects by streamlining the regulation and permitting processes.   Association President/CEO Roger A. Isom stated the time is absolutely now!  We have gone too many years without upgrades to our water infrastructure.”  

Click here for the letter to President-elect Joe Biden and click here for the letter to congressional leadership. 

Cal/OSHA Recordkeeping Requirements

Reminder – the annual posting of the Cal/OSHA 300A Summary, which lists the total number of job-related illnesses and injuries that occurred during 2020, must be posted from February 1st – April 30th, 2021. The summary must list the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred in 2020and were logged on your Cal/OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. If no injuries or illnesses occurred in 2020, you must post the summarywith "zeros" on the total line.  The form must be signed and certified by a company executive and should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted. In addition, employerswith 20 or more employees, must upload the Summary data by March 2, 2021 to the OSHA ITA website www.osha.gov/injuryreporting/ita/. Please visit our website for Recordkeeping Forms or contact our office.

Governor Proposes $227 Billion Budget – Good News/Bad News for Agriculture

This past week, Governor Gavin Newsom presented his proposed $227 billion budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, of which $164.5 billion is from the General Fund. The Governor’s proposed budget relies heavily on one-time expenditures, avoiding long-term liabilities, since the State’s out year projections predict reduced revenues. The resulting budget provides some good news, as well as some bad news for agriculture.

This proposed budget prioritizes the Governor’s goals of economic recovery, equity, climate resiliency and emergency response. Governor Newsom was clear that every budget allocation was made in an effort to achieve these four goals. On the good news side of the ledger, the Governor included significant money for tractor and harvester replace in Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER), specifically $170 million one-time Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund ($90 million in 2020-21 and $80 million in 2021-22) for the Air Resources Board.  He also included $30 million for California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Healthy Soils Program to provide grants for on-farm soil management practices that sequester carbon. The proposed budget also includes $60 million for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) Grants, and $40 million to CDFA for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Grants that help farmers reduce irrigation water use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture pumping. 

Unfortunately, the proposed budget also included some significant bad news, and that is the Administration proposed a four-year phased in mil assessment increase for pesticides. The mil will be tiered based on EPA hazard designations, with the pesticides with highest toxicity being assessed the highest. At the end of the four years, those products will be paying approximately 45 mils. There will also be new money for DPR air monitoring and enforcement. The proposed budget will now go to the legislature for review and debate so stay tuned as to what actually gets approved later this year.

2021 Training Workshops

Refer to the link below for more information on upcoming workshops!
2021 Training Workshops Flyer

COVID-19 Cases

As we begin the new year, the number of COVID-19 cases are rising – ACT NOW!  California has confirmed cases of the new and more infectious strain of COVID-19, it is important to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect yourself, your family, your friends and your co-workers.  Continue to wash your hands often with soap and water, monitor your health daily – be alert to symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms), and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.  For additional COVID-19 information and resources, please visit our website www.agprocessors.org.

Welcome to WAPA

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.).