Produce Safety Training Grower Training Courses Offered

April 27, 2018 – -Provided by Almond Board of California & 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.)

May 21 | Modesto 

Almond Board of California

1150 9th Street, Ste. 1500

May 30 | Chico

Oxford Suites

2035 Business Lane

June 19 | Madera

Madera Clubhouse Restaurant

23200 Avenue 17

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.

SAFE FOOD ALLIANCE

The U.S. FDA’s Produce Safety rule requires in § 112.22(c) that for each farm, “At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.” The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy this requirement; it is the only course currently recognized by FDA.

The trainers will spend approximately seven hours of instruction time covering content contained in these seven modules:

* Introduction to Produce Safety

* Worker Health, Hygiene, and Training

* Soil Amendments

* Wildlife, Domesticated Animals, and Land Use

* Agricultural Water (Part I: Production Water; Part II: Postharvest Water)

* Postharvest Handling and Sanitation

* How to Develop a Farm Food Safety Plan

Key parts of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements are outlined within each module, in addition to learning about best practices in produce safety. There will be time for questions and discussion, so participants should come prepared to share their experiences and produce safety questions.

 

View Training Dates

 

Almond Harvester Equipment Survey Underway

April 27, 2018 – -The Almond Board of California and California Walnut Board are currently conducting a survey of almond and walnut harvesting operations to help develop incentive programs aimed at encouraging the use of low-dust technology harvesters. If you have not already taken the survey, we would like your opinions on how to best implement these programs.

It will only take a few minutes and you will receive a $10 Amazon gift as a token of gratitude for participating in this important research.

The data from questionnaires will be compiled by a third-party market research firm and supplied to both boards, and a summary of the data, ensuring anonymity, will be shared with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. At no time will your name be associated with your answers.

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE

Talks Continue on Prop 1 Bond Funding for Water Storage

April 27, 2018 – -The allocation of storage funding from the Proposition 1 water bond moves another step closer next week, when the California Water Commission meets to discuss revised staff recommendations for investing in the public benefits of storage projects. Following a second round of scoring, Water Commission staff determined last week that eight of 11 projects would be eligible for $2.6 billion in bond funds, a significant increase from the $942 million eligibility amount issued by staff in February.

Under the bond’s Water Storage Investment Program projects receive scores according to the public benefits they would bring, including ecosystem improvements, water quality improvements, flood control, emergency response and recreation associated with the proposed projects.

The Sites Project Authority, applying for $1.39 billion in funding for the construction of Sites Reservoir—a large, off-stream storage project in Glenn and Colusa counties—received an increased public benefit score. The score rose from 0.4 to 0.67 resulting in an increased eligibility amount for the project from $662 million to $933.3 million.

The San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority is seeking $1.06 billion for the proposed Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir, on the San Joaquin River upstream from Friant Dam in Fresno and Madera counties. Proponents appealed an earlier low public-benefit ratio score and the score improved slightly, which means the project would be eligible for $171 million.

The Contra Costa Water District requested $459 million to expand the existing Los Vaqueros Reservoir, situated southwest of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Contra Costa County. The district improved its earlier public benefit ratio score of 0.46, which increased to 1.77. The staff recommended an allocation of $423 million.

The Water Commission is scheduled to make final funding decisions in July. Learn more about the water projects and scoring by Water Commission staff on the WSIP Project Review portal at cwc.ca.gov/Pages/WSIPSummary.aspx

$8.9-billion water bond appears headed for November ballot

April 27, 2018 – -A proposal to borrow $8.9 billion for improvements to California’s water quality systems and watersheds and protection of natural habitats is eligible for the statewide ballot in November, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced in a press release Wednesday.

Padilla said the measure, which is backed by agricultural interests, had exceeded the 365,800 valid signatures it needed to qualify for the general election ballot. The bond measure will appear on the ballot unless proponents withdraw it by June 28, the release said.

The bond is one of many voters could decide on in 2018. A $4-billion bond for parks and water infrastructure improvements will appear on the June 5 ballot. State lawmakers approved it last year.

 

 

Controversial Bill Increasing Use of Biomass Moves out of Committee

April 27, 2018 – -A measure expanding the use of biomass to help meet California’s climate goals and clean energy passed the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy this week. AB 2208 (Aguiar-Curry), which has been tried several times before, stirred a lengthy debate on how efficient and environmentally friendly the burning of biomass is. With more moderate members understanding the value of biomass given the abundance of organic matter especially in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valley and foothills, the Alliance supported the bill and emphasized the environmental and economic benefits for biomass. Next the bill will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Major Labor Bills Pass Out of Committee

April 27, 2018 – -The Almond Alliance has identified and is tracking several key labor bills, which, despite the likelihood of increased litigation, all passed out of Committee.

AB 2841 (Gonzalez Fletcher) would increase the number of paid sick days from three to five. This would place an additional burden on California businesses and at a time when employer costs continue to be on the rise as the minimum wage increases. The bill is now headed to Appropriations where it is likely to pass given that the author of the bill is also the Chair of the Committee.

AB 2946 (Kalra) which would extend the statute of limitations from current law of six months to three years for a worker to allege they have been fired or otherwise discriminated against.  Furthermore, the bill also requires a one-sided plaintiff attorney’s fee provision that will incentivize further litigation.

SB 1284 (Jackson) requires employers with 100-plus employees to submit a pay data report to the state containing certain information including the number of employees by race, ethnicity, and sex, the employees’ pay and hours worked. This creates a false impression of wage discrimination or unequal pay where none exists and, therefore, subjects employers to unfair public criticism, enforcement measures, and significant litigation costs to defend against meritless claims. This bill passed out of committee and will be next heard in Appropriations Committee.

SB 1300 (Jackson) would open the litigation floodgates by allowing people who have not actually been the victim or harassment or discrimination to file employment practices lawsuits. What should essentially be an employee complaint or grievance about a perceived shortcoming by the employer would become fodder for costly litigation by people not even required to be employed by employer. Employment practices claims are very expensive to investigate and defend, even if there was no actual wrongdoing by the employer.

Finally, a bill which would have helped businesses by expanding the list of itemized wage statement violations that employers can attempt to cure, failed to pass Committee. AB 2907 (Flora) would have allowed employers to correct pay stub violations and mistakes for any of the nine pay stub requirements outlined under PAGA within 33 days.

 

 

 

 

Two Bills Look At Expansion of Career Technical Education

April 27, 2018 – -Many Almond Alliance members have been identifying the need for skilled workforce at all levels,so the association has taken an active role in supporting two career technical education proposals. The Alliance has been working closely with the Brown Administration and the author’s office to ensure that the programs have funding and proper accountability and structure.

AB 1743 (O’Donnell) would extend the career technical education incentive grant to ensure continued funding for critical training programs in K-12. It calls for an increased investment of $1.5 billion over three years with a dollar-for-dollar match from the locals. It also adds additional performance requirements and strengthens reporting requirements and oversight. The other proposal is a budget change proposal included in the Governor’s January 10 budget, in the tune of two hundred million dollars annually for career technical education and providing a new infrastructure by dispersing the funding through regional consortiums at the community college level. The proposal also includes $12 million of ongoing funding for industry “sector experts” that will coordinate the programs regionally, help model programs, develop curriculum and work with industry.

State Legislative Bills Hit First Major Deadline

April 27, 2018 – -Bills are quickly moving through the final year of the two year legislative session year and these past couple of weeks have been some of the busiest. On April 27, 2018  we hit a major deadline requiring all bills with a fiscal impact to have successfully passed through all first house policy committees. With a couple of exceptions, any fiscal bill which failed to pass policy committee hearing is dead. With hundreds of controversial bills having to be heard, many hearings stretched well into the evening.

This is the first of several big deadlines coming up. Bills with no fiscal impact have until May 11 to be heard in Committee otherwise they are also dead for the year. Then the fiscal committees have until May 25 to hear all the fiscal bills so they can then be sent to the House Floor. June 1 is the major house of origin deadline which means that the Assembly and Senate floor sessions will continue late into the night all week. Once this deadline passes all the approved bills will repeat the same process in the other house.

Bearing Almond Acreage Officially Hits 1 Million Acres Mark

April 27, 2018 – -California growers produced almonds on 1 million acres in 2017, according to figures released Wednesday by the Pacific Regional Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Another 330,000 acres were non-bearing. That total – 1.33 million acres – was up 7% from the 2016 acreage of 1.24 million.

Preliminary bearing acreage for this year is expected to increase somewhat, with the increase estimated at 1.07 million acres. Nonpareil continues to be the leading variety, followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel, and Padre.

According to the Almond Board of California (ABC), the expansion of almond acreage means more almonds to feed a growing consumer demand but also represents an opportunity for farmers to add value with coproduct innovations.

In 2016, the almond industry produced 3.37 billion pounds of almond hulls and 1.35 billion pounds of almond shells, as more than two pounds of hulls and shells are generated for each pound of almond kernels.

These coproducts have historically been used as livestock bedding and dairy feed, but ABC-funded research is underway to identify ways to increase utilization and redefine orchard coproducts as valuable materials for other industries. The future of almond coproducts includes pilot-scale testing to improve soil quality, strengthen recycled plastics and feed insect larvae for poultry feed.

“The Almond Board remains dedicated to the future of the almond industry, driving innovations like coproduct utilization to ensure the continued success of farmers,” said ABC president and CEO Richard Waycott. “With an increasing almond acreage, the industry has more opportunity to realize the full potential of everything an almond orchard provides.”

Bills Reforming Unfair Labor Practices Fails in First Committee

April 20, 2018 – -Legislation attempting to loosen labor union’s grasp on ag workers failed passage in Labor Committee this week. The bills, sponsored by farm workers disgruntled with the UFW and unionization progress, failed passage but did generate a lively debate and discussion concerning many controversial ag labor issues.

AB 3092 (Patterson) would have considered a labor organization’s abandonment for 3-plus years an unfair labor practice requiring decertification of the labor organization by the ALRB. AB 3093 (Patterson) would have given workers the right to ratify a contract that is the result of the mandatory mediation and conciliation process.

AB 3094 (Patterson) would have expanded the basis upon which the ALRB may refuse to certify a union election and permitted the ALRB to order a second election unless misconduct by the employer/union is deemed egregious enough, in which case the ALRB will certify against the offending party.

The debate surrounding these bills put farm workers against Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez -Fletcher, the author of the farm worker overtime bill, and a staunch advocate for labor unions. Dozens of farm workers attended and testified to demonstrate their support for the bills and articulate their frustration with current law that will result in them having to be represented by the UFW.   However, in the end, their rational legal arguments, emotional tales and pleas were not enough to convince the Committee.