Air District Accepts and Appropriates $118 Million for FARMER Funding

Today, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Governing Board accepted and appropriated $118 million in new FARMER funding to help replace older diesel tractors and harvesters with new Tier 4 equipment.  This is the 5th year for the FARMER program, and in the first four years, the District had allocated more than $432 million to replace ag equipment.  This year’s money is a significant shot in the arm and comes just in time as the Air District’s queue of applications increased from 2,061 to 3,305 just since April!  Association President/CEO Roger Isom attended the Governing Board Meeting and testified in support of the allocation.  In doing so, Isom thanked the District staff and the Board for their support in this funding and emphasized the need for this funding to help agriculture be a part of the solution to the Valley’s air quality problems.  Isom stated “Agriculture can’t pass along the cost of new equipment like other industries, and this is exacerbated by the drought and incredibly high input costs.  The incentive programs, like FARMER have been hugely successful and we must continue them.”  In allocating the $118 million, the District will also hire additional staff to help address this growing backlog of applications. 

Association and Other Ag Groups File Petition to California Supreme Court on Bumblebee Case

Following a somewhat surprise ruling by the California Third District Court of Appeal, which affirmed the California Fish and Game Commission’s authority to determine if insects such as four bumblebee species can be protected under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), a coalition of seven agricultural organizations including the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA) and the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) have filed a petition for review to the California Supreme Court asking them to hear this case.  The Appeals Court’s new order reverses a previous trial court decision and opens the flood gates to include many potential insect species under CESA.  This process began in 2018 when some public interest groups petitioned the Commission to list four species of bumblebees as endangered.  The Commission accepted the petition and began the process to list the 4 species as candidate species.  At that point, seven agricultural organizations, including CCGGA and WAPA, challenged the decision, and the California Superior Court agreed.  In response, the Commission and public interest groups filed an appeal with the Third District Court of Appeal.  Unfortunately, the Third District found that the legislature intended the definition of fish to include insects (invertebrates).  Feeling confident in the agricultural groups’ position, the coalition decided to move forward with filing the petition with the hopes the case will be heard by the California Supreme Court.  Stay tuned!

 Association Testifies Before California Department of Insurance

Association President/CEO Roger Isom testified today before the California Department of Insurance (CDI) on the issue of expanding the FAIR Program for insurance.  The FAIR program is the “insurance of last resort” when operations cannot get coverage anywhere else.  In recent years, many facilities have been unable to get insurance coverage for their property or stock insurance.  This primarily a result of the historic wildfires in California chasing insurance carriers away from California, as well as losses in the agricultural industry as well.  It has left many operations with limited coverage pieced together with multiple policies or in some cases without coverage on part or all of their property.  This is unacceptable, and the Association has been working closely with CDI to find solutions to this crippling dilemma.  As a result, State Insurance Commissioner worked with the FAIR Program to increase the commercial limit from $3 million to over $8 million in overall coverage.  In his testimony today, Isom asked the Commissioner to seek increases as high as $20 million.  Obviously, this does would not cover all of the property and stock that many our members may have, it would be a significant increase and would help in the interim until more carriers come back to the California marketplace.  The Association continues to put pressure on CDI and find solutions to help our members

USDA Seeking Proposals for CIG Grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is seeking proposals through June 1 for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (On-Farm Trials). On-Farm Trials, part of the agency’s Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program, feature collaboration between NRCS and partners to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and then evaluate their impact. Incentive payments are provided to producers to offset the risk of implementing innovative approaches.  “USDA is a leader in using the latest science, research and conservation tools to reduce the impacts of climate change,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS State Conservationist in California. “We’re doing our part in helping America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the natural resources we all depend on, like clean air and water, while supporting the health and resiliency of their operations for the future. Conservation Innovations Grants are an important tool in the development of new and innovative technologies and systems to support agriculture and conservation.”    California CIG application packages are due via by 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time (PST) on June 1, 2022. The agency anticipates making selections by June 30, 2022 and expects to execute awards by August 19, 2022.  FY 2022 USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants competition for California presentation will be available April 27, 2022. A total of up to $400,000 is available for the California CIG competition in FY 2022. Projects may be between one and three years in duration, with the maximum award amount for a single award in FY 2022 to be $150,000. This program harnesses the expertise, resources and capacity of partner organizations nationwide to help NRCS boost natural resource conservation on private lands and support climate smart agriculture. A critical element of each On-Farm Trials project is the project evaluation. Partners must propose robust scientific approaches for their projects, resulting in data and analyses of the environmental, financial and, to the extent possible, social impacts of the trials.  The CIG state component emphasizes projects that benefit a limited geographical area.

How to Apply 
To apply, follow the requirements in the California CIG Announcement:

  • Applications MUST be submitted electronically through
  • Submissions must be received by the submission due date of June 1, 2022, by 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST).
  • See section D of the CIG Notice of Funding Opportunity for more information regarding how to submit an application.
  • Required documents and instructions are available on 

WAPA Tree Nut Processing Laboratory Dedication Ceremony

(Excerpts from Fresno State News)


This past week, the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State unveiled a state-of-the-art nut processing laboratory Friday with a host of campus and area agricultural industry leaders and supporters.  The project, initiated and coordinated by Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA), was made possible by nearly $800,000 worth of donated equipment and services by Central Valley industry partners.  “We are proud to support Fresno State and create a new opportunity for students to get hands-on training in one of our agricultural industry’s most specialized career fields,” said Christopher McGlothlin, director of Technical Services of the Western Agricultural Processors Association. “This is a unique opportunity for industry partners to come together and contribute their expertise and equipment to benefit the future of Central Valley agriculture.”   The campus laboratory features advanced processing equipment that can process almonds, pistachios, walnuts and pecans to meet industry standards. “The gift will enable the Jordan College to further collaborate with industry, enhance the skills of its students and allow the local companies to remain competitive and thrive,” said Dr. Athanasios Alexandrou, chair of the Department of Industrial Technology at Fresno State.  Another key participant in the lab’s creation was Gary Dunn, director of capital projects at The Wonderful Company’s primary pistachio processing facility northwest of Bakersfield. He oversaw engineering, fabrication and campus installation of equipment on-site that included a bag house air filter, fan system, bucket elevator and equipment stands that were provided by Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds.   Dunn has commuted back and forth from Bakersfield to Fresno State since equipment began to arrive in January 2021, and often stayed overnight with his son, Bailey Dunn, a Fresno State senior in the Department of Industrial Technology. The younger Dunn has assisted in various parts of the construction process and took the Fundamentals of Nut Processing class when it was initially offered this past spring.  Other laboratory equipment that the Dunns have helped install and was donated by other industry supporters includes: 

  • Forsbergs G2 destoner equipment that removes rocks and stones.
  • Forsbergs TKV25 product separator that removes leaves, twigs, dust and other debris, and measures nut density to detect defective products that are lighter and have immature content.
  • Nolin Steel gyrating shaking equipment that uses screens to sort nuts by size.
  • Qcify automated analyzer that measures and compares sample product quality to Cloud-based industry standards.
  • A.B. FAB aspiration system for the separation of foreign material.
  • Portable incline conveyor provided by Capay Canyon Ranch.
  • Chiller equipment donated by Chandler Automation.
  • Air tank and dryer provided by Cortina Hulling and Shelling
  • Airflow ductwork and fan constructed by Robinson’s Sheet Metal
  • Equipment, bucket elevator equipment stand and support installed by Excelsior Construction

Additional construction services were provided by JTI Electric (wiring and mechanical work), Harris Construction (scissor lift), J.M. Equipment (forklift usage) and Piña Brothers (air lines utility work).  

Students will have their first chance to use the fully-functional lab in fall 2022. Adam Salwasser, an almond and pistachio processing consultant, and Emmanuel Ramos, director of operations at Touchstone Pistachio Company, will serve as lecturers for the class. This will enable Fresno State to further collaborate with industry partners, enhance the skills of its students and support local companies.  The class curriculum, which also covers related software and equipment maintenance, was created with help from Dan Pronsolino. The Western Agricultural Processors Association board member and Dunnigan Hills Hulling and Shelling general manager added input in the original project planning.  Pronsolino initially worked with the Jordan College to coordinate a 12-month internship program where students could get hands-on almond processing experience in both California and Australia.   The network of industry-tied contacts and campus lab donations reflect Western Agricultural Processors Association’s wide span of expertise and commitment to serving the industry. The professional organization represents the tree nut industry on regulatory and legislative issues related to hullers and processors, and additional consulting services related to food and operation safety, energy, environmental, labor and tax issues.  “The Central Valley is a national agriculture leader thanks to its ability to evolve and be shaped by innovation and technology,” said Dr. Dennis Nef, dean of the Jordan College. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts by so many industry representatives to make this lab a reality, which also paves the way for new careers and opportunities for our students to feed families around the Central Valley and world.”

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.).