‘Right to Repair’ Legislation Introduced

March 23, 2018 – -Controversial legislation mandating a “right to repair” electronics was introduced this week by Asm Susan Eggman (D – Stockton).  AB 2110 (Eggman) requires the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of electronic equipment or parts sold in California to provide to independent repair shops and owners of the equipment certain parts, tools, repair manuals and information, including diagnostic and repair information.  The bill requires OEM’s to comply with these provisions for five years after ceasing manufacturing of the part or specific equipment.

While much of the press surrounding the legislation was focused on consumer electronics, the definition is very broad and would include all electronics including critical infrastructure, manufacturing equipment and farm equipment. The only exceptions to the bill are automobiles and medical devices.  The author states the intent of the bill is to provide a fair marketplace for repairs and reduce e-waste.  Opposition is concerned that there are no requirements for training or protection of privacy for the repair facilities as well as the broad scope of the bill.

The bill has not been referred to committee or set for hearing.

Toni Atkins elected as CA Senate President Pro Tempore

March 23, 2018 – -To much fanfare the California State Senate last week elected a new leader, Senator Toni Atkins (D – San Diego) . Sen. Atkins took the oath as President Pro Tempore of the California Senate two years after serving as speaker of the Assembly. She’s the first legislator since 1871  to hold both leadership posts. Atkins, 55, will make history, as the first woman and the first openly gay lawmaker to lead the upper house in Sacramento. Sen. Atkins is well known for being pragmatic and accessible. Atkins wins praise for not only listening to opposing viewpoints but also for bearing witness to the impacts — good and bad — of decisions made in Sacramento. Through her term in the Assembly and the Senate,  the association has maintained an excellent relationship with her. With her new position we can expect some leadership changes, including new committee chairs. Senator Leyva (Chino) was removed from Senate Rules and Senator Richard Roth (Riverside) and Senator Monning (Carmel) were added. Senator Richard Pan (Sacramento) was appointed to Chair of the Labor, Senator Steven Bradford (Gardena) was appointed to Chair of Banking, and Senator Steven Glazer (Orinda) was appointed to Chair of Insurance. Other changes will be shared as soon as they are announced.

U.S. Spending Bill Includes Directive to FDA to Restrict Plant Based Products to Label “Milk”

March 23, 2018 – -The Congressional spending bill slipped in language that instructs the FDA to enforce labeling standards affecting “dairy imitators.” The legislation gives FDA 180 days from the date of enactment of the measure to issue guidance for how the dairy standards will be implemented and enforced. The Almond Alliance will be working with industry partners to further assess the impact to the industry and to advocate for the term to be applied for plant based products.

 

 

 

Trump Signs Budget Plan- Includes Fix for Tax Code Section 199 (a)

March 23, 2018 – -President Trump has signed the omnibus spending plan, which included an amendment to fix an unintended consequence of the January tax overhaul that provided an advantage to growers who sell through a cooperative over an independent company. The technical fix will be retroactive to Jan. 1 and will allow farmers selling to co-ops to claim a 20 percent deduction on net business income, with limits set on those with high incomes or capital gains.

Click here to read more.

China Proposes Counter Tariff on U.S. Imports of Ag Products

March 23, 2018 – -On March 23, 2018, the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced a proposal to levy retaliatory tariffs impacting approximately $2.0 billion in U.S. food and agricultural exports to China in response to the recent U.S. 232 Trade Action on steel and aluminum. Almonds and other crops would be subject to a 15% tariff increase. The Almond Alliance will be working with stakeholders to submit comments or additional information by March 31, 2018 to MOFCOM’s Trade Relief and Investigation Bureau regarding these countermeasures.

Click here to read more.

Annual convention seminar topics range from byproducts to water policy

March 16, 2018 – -The Almond Alliance of California and our Seminars Sponsor, Western Growers Insurance Services, has strategically designed our 2018 convention seminars to update and educate our members on the pressing issues affecting the almond industry. The convention will be held May 1-3, 2018 in Monterey.  The featured seminars are:

Wednesday May 2

Byproducts: Managing biomass and organic byproducts continues to be a major issue for the almond industry. As we step up research efforts to find alternate uses for almond byproducts, convention attendees will hear from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service facility in Albany, bioproducts research leader, Dr. Bill Ortz.

FSMA: Attorney Rachael D. Spiegel of Faegre Baker Daniels is set to provide attendees with a detailed overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act and foodborne illness litigation. Spiegel will delve into FSMA’s minimum standards for safe production, as well as discuss how the Foreign Supplier Verification rule will affect specialty crop growers. The session will wrap up with real-life examples of how food safety errors could result in civil ligation and criminal prosecution and tips on how to properly manage contamination outbreaks.

Sustainability: Wednesday’s agenda continues with a presentation by Almond Board of California (ABC). To quote Almond Alliance’s Chairman Brad Craven, “The word sustainability means different things to different people.” Attendees will hear what sustainability means to ABC and how ABC staff and committees are continually investing in research regarding sustainable programs, practices and procedures to insure the longevity and validity of the almond industry.

Almond Alliance Update: The Almond Alliance Annual Business Meeting will close out day one of the educational portion of the convention. Newly named President Elaine Trevino will address members with her first ever annual address summarizing the association’s annual activities and highlighting her plans for the association in the future.

Thursday, May 3

Employment Law: On Thursday morning, employers will benefit from a presentation by Stacy Henderson, partner at Terpstra Henderson, A Professional Corporation. Henderson has gained a reputation as an outstanding civil litigation and transactional attorney, specializing in the areas of employment law, corporate law and public agency law. Utilizing her expertise, Henderson will be counseling members on how to prepare for seasonal workforce during her presentation, “Getting Ready for Season”.

Tax Reform: For over 50 years, K·Coe Isom has helped nut growers, producers, and manufacturers achieve financial prosperity through tax strategies, including farm income averaging, cost segregation, depreciation, and IC-DISC and R&D credits. They will provide an overview of the impacts of national tax reform on the industry and discuss how to be prepared for financial success heading into the new crop year.

Water Policy: Thursday’s seminars will include a presentation focusing on a significant issue impacting California agriculture—water. Ellen Hanak is director of the non partisan Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) . Under her leadership, the center has become a critical unbiased source of information and guidance for natural resource management in California. She has authored dozens of reports, articles, and books on water policy, including Managing California’s Water. Her research is frequently profiled in the national media, and she participates in briefings, conferences, and interviews throughout the nation and around the world.

Advocacy Panel: Our 2018 Seminar agenda will conclude with a panel focused on the latest in state politics moderated by Almond Alliance’s Manager of Government Relations, Andrea York. The discussion will cover a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues our industry faces at both the state and federal levels. Later that evening, the Almond Industry PAC will host a legislative cocktail reception providing guests the opportunity to get social with the legislators and influencers that are engaged with our political efforts.

Registration will be open until 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.

Almond Alliance of California Names Elaine Trevino as President/CEO

March 9, 2018 – -After an extensive and thorough executive search, the Almond Alliance of California (AAC) has named Elaine Trevino as its new President and CEO.  In this role, she will provide oversight of the organization’s operations, communications, government relations and overall advocacy efforts on behalf of California’s almond industry.  In addition, she will manage the organization’s various industry strategic partnerships, initiatives and memberships across the state of California.  Based in Modesto, Trevino will report directly to Brad Craven, Chairman of the Almond Alliance of California.

“We are excited to have Elaine be part of our team,” said Craven.  “She brings a wealth of experience, statewide relationships, extensive community outreach, public policy, government affairs and strategic partnerships. We look forward to having her contribute to the continued advocacy efforts of California’s almond industry. In looking for a new president of the Almond Alliance, we knew that the almond industry has enjoyed a lot of success, making this position attractive to a large pool of candidates.  In order to enjoy continued success, our organization will also need to take on any challenges or threats head-on, with integrity and confidence.  This is what Elaine brings to the Almond Alliance.”

Most recently, Trevino was President of California Strategic Solutions, a consulting company focused in business development, community outreach and delivering comprehensive strategies for complex issues.  Trevino has diverse experience in both the public and private sectors in the areas of agriculture, transportation, community development and technology.  She is a recognized leader in the Central Valley and understands the importance of strong bi-partisan relationships. Equally important, Elaine understands the value of communication and outreach to all segments of the California almond community.

Chairman Craven praised Interim President Andrea York for her efforts over the past few months. “The board deeply appreciates Andrea stepping up from her busy role as Government Affairs Manager and taking on the additional responsibilities as Interim President,” said Craven. “We look forward to Andrea working closely with Elaine on the broad range of issues vital to the almond community.”

Past Chairman Dick Cunningham commented, “I am thrilled with the hiring of Elaine Trevino to be the next President/CEO of the Almond Alliance of California. Elaine has a wealth of relevant experience that will serve our members well.  I look forward to working with Elaine to ensure the sustainability and success of the almond community.”

Before creating California Strategic Solutions, Trevino served as a Deputy Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Gray Davis.  She was responsible for the oversight of the California specialty crop block grant funding allocation as well as the international trade programs and the statewide county fair network.

Former CDFA Secretary Bill Lyons, currently Chairman of the Almond Alliance’s Government Affairs Committee, pointed to Trevino’s successful bi-partisan approach as Deputy Secretary. “It says a lot about Elaine that she served successfully under both a Democratic and Republican governor,” he noted. “Her ability to be able to work with both sides of the aisle is a critical reason why she rose to the top of the candidates we interviewed. She knows and understands how the state Capitol works and appreciates the relationship building that is critical to achieving positive results with legislation and regulatory policy.”

Chairman Craven praised Trevino’s communication skills. “With her professional demeanor and personable communication skills, she is certain to be well received by the almond community,” he said. “Elaine has the capacity to address the wide range of issues facing the almond industry in California. We feel fortunate to have found someone with Elaine’s experience and aptitude at this particular time in the Almond Alliance’s advancement.  She is the right person at the right time for the almond community.”

Prior to her tenure at the State, Trevino was the president of an economic development corporation and a former executive for a Fortune 100 financial institution.  Trevino has served on numerous boards and commissions and is an advocate of leadership programs for youth.  Born and raised in the Central Valley of California, Elaine has a long history of community service in the region and has a great respect for agriculture and the value of the industry to California’s economy.

 

Produce Safety Training Grower Training Course March 14

March 2, 2018 –  A -Produce Safety Training Grower Training Course will be provided March 14 by Almond Board of California and Western Growers & Safe Food Alliance

ALMOND SPECIFIC PRODUCE: SAFETY ALLIANCE GROWER TRAINING COURSE

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Almond growers or farm-type operations (huller/shellers) even if you will be utilizing the grower exemption.

TRAINING DATES (Courses begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 4:00 p.m.)

March 14 | Tulare

International Agri-Center

4500 S. Laspina St.

Tulare, CA 93274

REGISTRATION:

  • $35 registration fee, which includes lunch and certificate at

completion of the training.

  • Registration is limited to one representative per company and

the first 40 to return their form and payment, per event.

  • Send the attached registration form to Jayme Puthoff via fax or

email at jputhoff@almondboard.com or 209.549.8267.

Payment must be received within 5 business days to reserve a spot.

Registration Form

Registration Flyer

 

 

Court Ruling Orders Injunction Against CDFA Pest Spraying

March 2, 2018 – -This week Superior Court Judge Timothy W. Frawley ruled against CDFA, in a lawsuit brought by environmental organizations and the City of Berkeley that attacked crop protection applications through CDFA’s Pant and Pest Prevention and Management Program. The judge’s injunction in EWG Plaintiffs v. CDFA applies to pesticides sprayed by the CDFA to control outbreaks of invasive plant pests.

Frawley issued the injunction following his ruling in January that the program violated numerous state laws, relying on “unsupported assumptions and speculation” to conclude that pesticides would not contaminate water bodies. The ruling cited the state’s “woefully deficient” analysis of the cumulative danger of increasing the more than 150 million pounds of pesticides already used in California each year.

The CDFA responded to Almond Alliance inquiries on the impact of the ruling by stating “Protecting agriculture and the natural landscape from invasive pests is a core mandate and an essential function of our agency. CDFA will comply with the judge’s decision and conduct any future program activities in compliance with CEQA as necessary. The Department is considering an appeal.” CDFA has also assured stakeholders that more information and guidance would be provided in the days and weeks ahead.

BOE Rejects 4 Cent Gas Tax Increase

March 2, 2018 – -In a surprise vote, the Board of Equalization rejected a staff proposal to increase the excise tax on gasoline by 4 cents per gallon.  This provides a hole of $617 million in Governor Brown’s proposed budget.  Normally, the Board of Equalization’s annual requirement to set fuel tax rates is almost automatic. It has tweaked recommendations, but it has not rejected them.

This time, two Board of Equalization members said they did not want to hike fuel taxes so soon after the Legislature’s adoption of a separate 12-cent per gallon gas tax that took effect in November. “I’ve never voted for a tax increase on gasoline for my constituents. It hurts them,” said board member Diane Harkey, a Republican who is running for Congress.  She was joined by Democrat Jerome Horton, who said the administration did not make a compelling case. “It’s the equity of it that I’m having pause,” he said, arguing that lower-income people with long commutes would suffer because of the extra tax.

The Legislature gave the Board of Equalization responsibility for fuel taxes in 2010, when the state shifted its model for collecting some taxes on fuel.  Previously, the state charged a sales tax based on the prices consumers pay. Now it charges an excise tax that levies a tax on each gallon purchased. The Board of Equalization is supposed to make sure that revenue from the excise tax does not exceed the total amount of money that the state would have collected from a sales tax on gasoline. It sets the rate each year based on projections from its staff.  The Board of Equalization loses that authority next year. The Legislature reclaimed oversight over gas taxes with Senate Bill 1, the bill that levied the new, special 12 cent per gallon gas tax.

The board’s decision leaves the fuel excise tax at 29 cents per gallon for another year. It would have climbed to 33 cents per gallon had the board approved the department’s recommendation.

Finance Department spokesman H.D. Palmer said the administration would account for the revenue loss in Brown’s May budget revision. Losing the 4-cent hike will cut $271 million for local road projects, $271 million for highways and $75 million for a maintenance program. That said, the state expects to collect an additional $5.4 billion for roads through the new gas tax, and the overall state budget is running a surplus that is expected to give the state $19 billion in reserves by July 1, 2019.