CDFA Funding Details Outlined in Governor’s Budget

Jan. 19, 2018 – -Governor Brown introduced his eighth and final proposed 2018-19 State Budget last week and demonstrated his values, most notably fiscal prudence, to prepare for a future recession and flexibility to local agencies rather than prescriptive budget rules.  The administration is stating that this budget keeps the state on a path to long-term fiscal stability, fills the state’s Rainy Day Fund to its constitutional target, fully implements the state’s K-12 school funding and provides $4.6 billion for the first year of a 10-year transportation improvement plan.  The total proposed state budget is $131.7 billion.

While well received by Legislators in both parties, it is likely the proposed budget will set off a volley where Democratic legislators will argue that the additional funding to the Rainy Day fund should be split with some portion going to their priorities. Republicans likely will argue a similar strategy, except to allocate the additional funding for transportation projects in lieu of the gas tax and VLF increases.

For agriculture and the almond industry, there is ample funding for several key programs at CDFA and for water and natural resource areas the Governor’s budget was cautiously generous.  However, there are also key policy issues announced that will require engagement from the Almond Alliance and our agriculture advocates.

General CDFA program investments include:

  •    $ 429,000 of general fund for “Farm to Fork” program
  •    $ 671,000 from Ag fund to State Organic to increase testing, enforcement and training plus 3 positions
  •    $ 265,000 from the ag fund to Farmers Market Program for the database implementation
  •    $ 294,000 general fund to fulfill mandates of AB 954 which requires CDFA to develop guidance for “best if used by dates” on food.
  •    $ 139.000 general fund to hire one position, per AB 1348, to promote diversity in California farm community.
  •    $ 9,348,000 of Capital Outlay to build a new Blythe Border Protection Station.

The Plant areas of CDFA are proposed to receive:

  •    $2.5 million general fund to citrus plus and additional 2.5 million from the ag fund to fight citrus greening disease.
  •    $1,853,000 general fund for bee safe forage to assist in the development of foraging habitat for Bees.
  •    $529,000 general fund for one position and contracts funding at the Office of Pesticide Consultation (OPCA) to study alternatives to pesticides that have restricted use and focus on biocontrol

The department has funding for livestock investments including:

  •    $2,668,000 of general fund and 11 positions for full implementation of SB 27 which regulated antibiotics in feed and animals.
  •    $716,000 to the Feed Program for Feed Safety Rule implementation
  •     $440,000 from special funds and a half position for pet lovers license plate implementation.

In addition, the budget proposes to provide the following funding if the Parks and Water Bond authorized by SB 5 is passed in June:

  •    $17,800,000 for State Water Efficiency Program (SWEEP)
  •    $8,604,000 for healthy soils
  •    $3,559,000 for California Fairs deferred maintenance.

Natural Resources and Environmental Protection was also outlined in the Governor’s Budget.  Below is a discussion of the key water and habitat issues.  Climate change funding from “Cap and Trade” program will be released after the Governor’s State of the State on January 25th.

  •    $61.8 million from SB 5 for DWR to support implementation of “Sustainable Ground Water” management Planning including  (1) providing technical assistance to aid in the development and evaluation of their plans, (2) supplementing existing planning grants to support a groundwater sustainability agency’s responsibility to define a path to achieve sustainable groundwater management, and (3) providing grants directly supporting implementation of groundwater projects.

Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund—Establishes a new special fund for the State Water Board to assist communities, particularly disadvantaged communities, in paying for the short-term and long-term costs of obtaining access to safe and affordable drinking water. The Administration is proposing statutory language, consistent with the policy framework of SB 623, introduced in the 2017-18 legislative session, to establish a program that provides grants, loans, and administrator contracts or services to assist eligible communities and households in securing access to safe and affordable drinking water.

  •    $4.7 million in 2018-19 for the State Water Board and the Department of Food and Agriculture to take initial steps toward implementation of this new program, including (1) developing and implementing fee collection systems, (2) conducting an assessment to estimate the level of funding needed to assist water systems in the state to ensure the delivery of safe and affordable drinking water, and (3) developing and making available a map of high-risk aquifers used as drinking water sources.
  •    $63 million from SB 5 for the State Water Board to provide grants to public water systems in disadvantaged communities for infrastructure improvements to meet safe and affordable drinking water standards.
  •    $27 million is available to improve regional water supply within the San Joaquin River watershed.
  •    $30 million from SB 5 for Salton Sea Plan implementation
  •    $3.5 million for DWR to review and approve required inundation maps and coordinate the review of emergency action plans
  •    $3 million ongoing for focused re-evaluations of spillways and critical appurtenant structures.

Registration is open for the May 1-3, 2018 Annual Almond Alliance Convention

Jan. 23, 2018 – -It’s that time of year! Almond Alliance staff and the Meetings & Seminars Committee have been hard at work putting together a premier program for this year’s Annual Convention! We hope to see you all May 1st – 3rd, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel & Spa on the Del Monte Golf Course, in stunning Monterey, California.

Click Here to Register

The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course is nestled within 22 acres of soaring Monterey Pines. It is a destination hotel providing all guests and travelers with the quintessential Monterey experience. Its Central California Coast location offers guest close proximity to downtown Monterey, Monterey Airport and easy access to some of the Peninsula’s most well-known attractions.

Registration will be open from January 22, 2018 – March 22, 2018. Late registration will be available starting March 23, 2018. *late registrants will be subject to corresponding fees. For more information click HERE.

Exhibitors: Booth selection is on a first-come, first-serve basis, priority may be given based on level of sponsorship support and membership status/history. (Note: one booth per company) 

Public Workshops Set on the Development of the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) Program

Jan. 10, 2018 – -The Almond Alliance successfully advocated for cap and trade proceeds to be allocated to the agricultural sector to assist with funding for harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, pump engines, tractors, and other equipment through the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) Program.

This month California Air Resources Board staff will conduct public workshops and webinars in several locations on the development which will outline CARB’s recommendations for expending FARMER funds.  The workshops will provide an opportunity for the Almond Industry to participate with CARB staff and other stakeholders in the development of the program guidelines.  To register or for more information visit:

The workshops will be held at the following dates and times:

DATE:                Wednesday, January 24, 2018
TIME:                10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (PST)
LOCATION:       Sonoma County Farm Bureau
                          3589 Westwind Boulevard
                          Santa Rosa, California 95403

DATE:                Friday, January 26, 2018
TIME:                10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (PST)
LOCATION:       California Air Resources Board
                          Monitoring Laboratory Division
                          1927 13th Street
                          Sacramento, California 94811

Click here to register and get more information.

Webinar will be held  Tuesday, January 30, 2018
TIME:                10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (PST)
LOCATION:       San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District
                          Central Valley Regional Office
                          1990 E. Gettysburg Avenue
                          Fresno, California 93726

The public can also attend this Central Valley workshop by video conference at the air district’s Modesto and Bakersfield offices:

Modesto Office
4800 Enterprise Way
Modesto, CA 95356

Bakersfield Office
34946 Flyover Court
Bakersfield, CA 93308

Legislature Positions on Taxes; Denies Passage of ‘Snack Tax’

Jan. 10, 2018 – -Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) has introduced SB 227, the Protect California Taxpayers Act, which would allow taxpayers to make a charitable donation to the “California Excellence Fund” that will appropriate monies to the state’s general Fund. Taxpayers will then be able to deduct dollar to dollar contributions to the Fund from their federal taxes. The measure intends to mitigate the new federal tax limitation of 10,000 in deductions for state and local property taxes.

A.B. 274, by Asssemblymember Christina Garcia (D- Bell Gardens), an effort to impose new taxes on “candy or confectionery” items and “processed snacks,” failed passage in the Assembly Tax and Revenue Committee.

Gov. Brown Releases 2018-2019 State Budget Proposal

Jan. 10, 2018 – -Gov. Brown this week released his 2018-2019 January budget proposal with a warning that continued uncertainty about the impacts of new federal policies, combined with a longer-than-average economic expansion, could be triggers for the next downturn in the economy. Towards that end, he proposes to bank higher revenues into the state “rainy day” reserves and pay down debts and liabilities. Many of his proposals will require companion legislation. Today, and in the weeks ahead, the Almond Alliance will be meeting with the Governor’s Office, legislature and critical state agencies to provide feedback on the many different ideas that will come from both political parties in response to the budget proposal.

The Governor delayed the release of the expenditure plan for the California Air Resources Board “Cap and Trade” profits until January 15, when he delivers his State of the State address. In 2017 the plan appropriated monies for the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) Program, which is to provide funding for harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, pump engines, tractors, and other equipment.

Although he has not endorsed SB 5 the “California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All” bond, he has staked funding for state water projects upon the premise of its approval by voters in June 2018. The Governor proposes the following projects to be funded by SB 5:

  •  SGMA Implementation—$61.8 million from SB 5 for DWR to support groundwater sustainability agencies through three key efforts: (1) providing technical assistance to aid in the development and evaluation of their plans, (2) supplementing existing planning grants to support a groundwater sustainability agency’s responsibility to define a path to achieve sustainable groundwater management, and (3) providing grants directly supporting implementation of groundwater projects.
  •  Groundwater Treatment—$84 million from SB 5 for the State Water Board to support regional groundwater treatment and remediation activities that prevent or reduce contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water, including $10 million for technical assistance for drought and groundwater investments.
  •  Multi-Benefit Flood Control Projects—$98.5 million from SB 5 for flood control projects that achieve public safety and fish and wildlife improvements, as well as funding for a new Floodplain Management, Protection and Risk Awareness Program to protect California’s alluvial fan, coastal, and riverine floodplains. This funding, along with previously appropriated Proposition 1 and 1E funds, intends to support an integrated system wide approach to flood management and implementation of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
  •  Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund—Establishes a new special fund for the State Water Board to assist communities, in paying for the short-term and long-term costs of obtaining access to safe and affordable drinking water. The Administration is proposing statutory language to establish a program that provides grants, loans, and administrator contracts or services to assist eligible communities and households in securing access to safe and affordable drinking water.
  •  The Budget proposes $4.7 million in 2018-19 for the State Water Board and the Department of Food and Agriculture to take initial steps toward implementation of this new program, including (1) developing and implementing fee collection systems, (2) conducting an assessment to estimate the level of funding needed to assist water systems in the state to ensure the delivery of safe and affordable drinking water, and (3) developing and making available a map of high-risk aquifers used as drinking water sources. $27 million is proposed to improve regional water supply within the San Joaquin River watershed.
  •  Safe Drinking Water Projects—$63 million from SB 5 for the State Water Board to provide grants to public water systems in disadvantaged communities for infrastructure improvements to meet safe and affordable drinking water standards, including both drinking water and wastewater treatment projects.

Click here to read the entire January Budget Proposal.

FDA Issues Guidance on FSMA Compliance

Jan. 5, 2018 – -On January 5, 2017 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced the Guidance for Industry: Policy Regarding Certain Entities Subject to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Preventive Controls, Produce Safety, and/or Foreign Supplier Verification Programs.

The FDA announcement outlines that it will exercise enforcement discretion for certain provisions in four of the rules that implement the FDA FSMA. This means that during the enforcement discretion period, the agency does not intend to enforce these provisions as they currently apply to certain entities or activities. FDA had previously extended the compliance dates for many of the provisions, but is now exercising discretion.

The Almond Alliance, assisted by the Memorandum Of Agreement with the Almond Board of California, is analyzing the full impact of the Guidance and will have further advice and details in the coming weeks. Currently, we can provide the following key points:

1) FDA will exercise discretion for the written assurance provisions in all four FSMA rules-including the  Produce Safety Rule. FDA intends to continue to exercise such discretion while it engages in continued rule-making on this issue.

2) FDA will exercise enforcement discretion for facilities that would qualify as secondary activities farms except for the ownership of the facility.  In particular, FDA’s exercise of enforcement discretion applies to any operation (not located on a primary production farm) that is dedicated to harvesting, packing, and/or holding raw agricultural commodities (RACs), as well as facilities solely engaged in packing and/or holding activities on produce RACs and/or nut hulls and shells.  FDA specifically provides “facilities engaged in nut hulling/shelling operations” (i.e., hullers and shellers) as an example of the type of facility likely to fall within this category.  Accordingly, practically speaking hullers/shellers will have neither preventive controls nor GMP obligations if they fall under the Preventive Controls rule.  In the longer term, FDA will initiate a rule-making that could change the way the requirements in the Preventive Controls rule apply to facilities that conduct activities similar to those that occur on farms.

The links to the guidance, Constituent Update, and fact-sheet related to this announcement are included below for your reference.

FR Notice

Guidance for Industry: Policy Regarding Certain Entities Subject to the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Preventive Controls, Produce Safety, and/or Foreign Supplier Verification Programs

Constituent Update

Factsheet

Contact Andrea York, Manager of Government Relations, for further information ayork@almondalliance.org

Almond Alliance Files Regulatory Comments to State Water Control Board on Proposed Changes to WDR

Jan. 3, 2018 – -The Almond Alliance, with the guidance of the Almond Board of California though our Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA), filed comments with the State Water Board on the Second Proposed Order Revising the Eastern San Joaquin Agricultural General Waste Discharge Requirements. The Alliance recognized the aspects of support for the proposal, such as anonymity in reporting, keeping participation and reporting as simple as possible, and reducing the frequency of revisions to Farm Evaluations. Concerns filed included:

* Allowing sufficient time for changes to be adopted

* Assumptions of negative water quality consequences from recharge should be balanced with an understanding of commitments under SGMA to balance supply

* Benefits should outweigh costs in expansion to low vulnerability areas

* To maintain a realistic expectation of irrigated agriculture and its benefit- new monitoring requirements should provide an approach that allows for accurate sampling without substantial cost.

The State Water Board is expected to make a final decision on the Proposed Order at its Jan. 23, 2018, board meeting.

Click here to read more about the second proposed order.

Legislature Reconvenes: State Budget, Taxes and CARB Scoping Plan Lead Year Ahead

Jan. 3, 2018 – -The legislature reconvened this week for the final year of the 2017 two- year legislative cycle. Amidst the backdrop of continuing sexual harassment accusations, the transition of senate leadership from Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) to Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), and the temporary loss of the Democrats’ “Super Majority,” the legislature will attempt to tackle a number of high priority issues: how to address the ability to deduct state and local taxes from federal returns, ensuring affordable housing, and advancing contentious legislation that seeks a path to a 100 percent carbon-free electrical grid by 2045.

On Thursday, Jan. 4, the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies and the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources will meet to hear from California Air Resource Board Chair Mary Nichols an overview of the ? 2030 target scoping plan adopted in December, 2017. The final Scoping Plan recognizes that California agriculture is critical to global food security and the document cites the contributions agriculture provides to meet the state’s long-term goals for carbon sequestration, GHG reduction and climate change adaptation. However, there is no doubt that California’s ambitious goals will continue to add regulatory and statutory burdens to the Almond Industry. The Almond Alliance will continue to stay front and center on CARB issues and represent the voice of our industry.

The Governor is scheduled to release his January State Budget Proposal on Wednesday, Jan. 10. It is anticipated that he will include a proposal to amend the state tax code. Meanwhile, Senate Pro Tem De Leon is expected to release legislation this week that will allow state filers to “donate” contributions to the state and then write off the deduction on federal returns. Stay tuned to the upcoming edition of Almond Advantage for a comprehensive look at the year ahead in state tax reform.