Urgent Advisory – Tree Nut Theft

The Association participated in the California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force Meeting in Santa Nella and learned the tree nut industry has once again experienced the theft of two loads of finished product tree nuts.  One was almonds and one was pistachios, and were destined to locations in the central U.S.  Both loads were believed to be stolen using “fictitious pickup’ though details are still coming in.  We send this as a urgent reminder to remain diligent especially at this time without outbound loads.  As a reminder, we developed the following recommended deterrent measures:

  • All pick-up appointments must be made at least 24 hours in advance, and require:
    • Pick-up #
    • Driver’s name and D/L #
    • Trucking Company Name
  • Verify paperwork upon arrival
  • Take photographs of driver, truck and trailer
  • Take photographs of license plates and VIN#
  • Take thumbprint of driver
  • Post warnings at truck entrance
  • Install high definition surveillance cameras
  • Utilize GPS tracking devices

This is a sophisticated crime.  Please be proactive and prepared.  The last time this hit, more than 40 loads of tree nuts were stolen.  The Association is already in contact with law enforcement officials.  For more details on how these thefts work, please visit the “Issues” section of the WAPA website, and be sure to adopt, implement and verify the above procedures are in place.  Should you experience any suspicious activities, please notify your county sheriff’s department and our office at (559)455-9272. 

COVID-19 Guidance Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance for Quarantine and Isolation periods in response to the ongoing Omicron cases.  This new guidance from CDC reduces the time after contracting or exposure to COVID-19.  The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has just released their updated guidance to conform with CDC, with additional requirements. Listed are the current guidance for quarantine and isolation:

  • Isolation period of infected employee after a positive COVID-19 test regardless of vaccination status, natural immunity or lack of symptoms
    • stay home for five days
    • isolation can end if no symptoms or symptoms improve after five days, and a diagnostic test on day 5 tests negative
    • if unable to test or choose not to test and symptoms are not present or resolving, isolation can end after day 10
    • continue to wear mask around others for a total of 10 days
  • Quarantine period after exposure (close contact) to someone with COVID-19, this will depend on vaccination status
    • unvaccinated employees, have not received booster, or second dose of Moderna/Pfizer more than 6 months ago or single dose of Johnson & Johnson more than 2 months ago
      • stay home for five days
      • test for COVID-19 on day 5
      • quarantine can end after day 5 if symptoms are not present and diagnostic test on day 5 is negative
      • if unable to test or choosing not to test and symptoms are not present, quarantine can end after day 10
      • continue to wear mask around others for a total of 10 days
    • vaccinated employees who have received a booster after a two dose of Moderna/Pfizer more than 6 months ago or single dose of Johnson & Johnson more than 2 months ago
      • wear mask around others for 10 days
      • get a COVID-19 test on day five
      • if symptoms develop, get a test and stay home
  • The definition of boosted or vaccinated but not yet *booster eligible
    • the individual does not need to quarantine
    • test on day 5
    • wear mask around others for 10 days

*Booster eligible definition from CDPH specifies Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech is six months after second dose; Johnson & Johnson is two months after first dose


Reminder, under the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) beginning January 14 requires employees to wear face covering and maintain six feet social distance if they are not excluded or return to work.  Currently under the ETS, an asymptomatic fully-vaccinated employees does not need to quarantine as long as they wear a face mask and social distance for given period, however, CDPH now makes a new distinction between boosted and un-boosted.  If an employee is vaccinated and booster eligible but hasn’t received the booster dose, they must stay home for 5 days.

The Association continues to monitor CDPH, Cal/OSHA, CDC and local health departments guidance and will update members on this already complicated situation.

Association Testifies at Air District Meeting on Farming Practices

This past week, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District held a workshop on potential amendments to Rule 4550 – Conservation Management Practices (CMPs).  The potential changes stem from a commitment in their 2018 PM2.5 State Implementation Plan (SIP) to further evaluate ways to promote conservation tillage practices and other potential enhancements to their CMP Program to reduce dust from ag operations.  Specifically, the District is considering more widespread adoption of conservation tillage, and possible control measures on land that is fallowed and then worked up.  Association President/CEO Roger Isom testified at the workshop encouraging the district to take their time before any control measures are proposed.  Isom stated that any potential measures must be based on actual scientific data obtained through actual scientific measurements, as was the case with most of current adopted CMPs.  Isom also commented that the potential measures must have an actual impact on reducing PM2.5 during the critical times of the year.  This rule development process for these changes is just beginning and the Association will be involved throughout the process.


WAPA Delivers Almonds and Pistachios to Los Angeles Christmas Food Drive

Association President/CEO Roger Isom and Director of Technical Services Christopher McGlothlin drove to Los Angeles today to deliver almonds and pistachios for a Christmas Food Drive to 500 needy families this Christmas. The event is coordinated by the El Monte Emergency Resources Association and helped by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio.  The almonds were graciously donated by Grizzly Nut, and the pistachios generously provided by Horizon Nut Company.

Cal/OSHA Renews COVID-19 ETS

The California Occupational Standards Board met yesterday and renewed the COVID-19 ETS with some minor revisions.  Once approved by the California Office of Administrative Law, this readoption will remain in effect for 90-days, from January 14, 2022 through April 14, 2022.  Some of the revisions:

  • face covering to now include a light test for fabrics that do not let light pass through,
  • require vaccinated employees to test who have had close contact in the workplace,
  • provide testing at no cost, during paid time, to all employees in the workplace who had close contact and provide them with information on benefits
  • employees exempt from wearing face coverings due to medical condition, mental health condition or disability requires social distancing (6 feet apart) from all other employees and either fully vaccinate or test weekly,
  • return to work requirements – employees may return under the following conditions:
    • employees who had a close contact but never developed any COVID-19 symptoms may return to work after 14 days have passed since last known close contact unless either applies:
      • 10 days have passed since the last known close contact and the employee wears a face covering and maintains 6 feet distance from others while at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact.
      • 7 days have passed since the last known close contact; the employee tested negative for COVID-19 using a COVID-19 test with the specimen taken at least five days after the last known close contact; and the employee wears a face covering and maintains six feet of distance from others while at the workplace for 14 days following the last date of close contact.
    • employees who had a close contact and developed any COVID-19 symptoms cannot return to work until:
      • at least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
      • COVID-19 symptoms have improved; and
      • at least 10 days have passed since COVID-19 symptoms first appeared.
  • changes to post-care testing that would now include vaccinated employees, 

Employer groups asked for further explanation or reconsider the new face covering requirements as most face coverings will not meet the light test requirements. The provisions to the post-care test to vaccinated employees with no symptoms will be difficult for employers to find tests due to the surge of COVID-19 variants, increase of COVID-19 cases during the holiday season and will disincentivize employees to vaccinate.  The reinstitution on requirements for social distancing in the workplace will also be difficult for employers as they will need to modify work areas again. Cal/OSHA released the draft proposed COVID-19 ETS 5 days ago and the Association continues to review and monitor the ETS. The Association is also working on updating its COVID-19 Prevention Plan for members.

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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.).