Trump Signs Memorandum on Western Water

Oct. 24, 2018 – -On Oct. 19, President Trump signed a memorandum on western water, directing the Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce to work together to deliver western communities the water supplies they need to irrigate millions of acres of farmland and provide water and power to millions of Americans.

The Memorandum directs the Interior and Commerce Departments to take specific actions, including:

* Expediting regulatory actions essential to the operation of water infrastructure

* Improving the information and modeling capabilities related to water availability

* Expanding use of water desalination and water recycling

* Accelerating and clarifying requirements for compliance with the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act

* Removing unnecessary burdens unique to the operation of the Columbia River Basin’s water infrastructure

Market Facilitation Program Workshops for almond growers Nov. 7, 8 and 9

Oct. 24, 2018 – -USDA’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP) provides almond growers with money to help alleviate the damage resulting from the trade tariff situation. The Almond Alliance of California will be co-hosting MFP workshops in early November for growers to learn more about the program and how to submit applications.

The workshops will be led by FSA staff on the following dates:

* November 7th (9:30-11:30 am) in Chico; Manzanita Place at the Chico Elks Lodge #423, 1705 Manzanita Avenue, Chico, CA 95926

* November 8th (9:30-11:30 am) in Modesto; 1150 9th Street Modesto, CA 95354 (15th floor of Double Tree Hotel)

* November 9th (9:30-11:30 am) in Fresno; Fresno County Farm Bureau, 1274 W. Hedges Avenue, Fresno, CA 93728

MFP applications are available online at www.farmers.gov/mfp. Applications can be completed at a local FSA office or submitted electronically either by scanning, emailing, or faxing. To locate or contact your local FSA office, visit www.farmers.gov. Please see attached MFP overview for further information.

If you would like the Almond Alliance to customize a workshop notice to your growers with your logo, please contact us at 209-300-7140 and ask for Annie Romero.

Click HERE to learn more.

CA Air Board Announces Additional Categories for FARMER Program

Oct. 2, 2018 – -The Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) Program, which was advocated for by the Almond Alliance, provides funding through local air districts for agricultural harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, agricultural pump engines, tractors, and other equipment used in agricultural operations. Additional project categories and modifications have been made and the FARMER Program now includes new project categories for heavy-duty agricultural trucks and equipment unavailable with similar horsepower ratings, and modifications to the existing zero-emission agricultural utility terrain vehicles (UTV) project category.  Districts may begin funding these new and modified project categories immediately.

To learn more, click HERE

Governor Signs Several Bills of Interest to the Ag Community

Oct. 2, 2018 – -This legislative session saw a couple bills which dealt with organics recycling, one which would bolster this important industry and one that could put an end to it. The bill that the Almond Alliance supported was AB 3036 (Cooley) which Governor Brown just signed into law. The bill would exclude byproducts from processed food, if those byproducts are intended for use as animal feed, from the definition of waste under the California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989.

AB 2632 (Santiago) was also signed by Governor Brown this week. This bill would ensure consumer product and food manufacturers cannot be deemed to have violated California’s “slack fill” law when the product’s exterior packaging contains information that clearly communicates the amount and size of the product contained the packaging. It was supported by a variety of business entities including the Agricultural Council of California, California Grocers Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Cal Chamber, and the California League of Food Processors.

The Governor vetoed AB 1165 (Caballero), which would have established the Agricultural Growth Council which would assist in regulatory alignments to aid grower compliance, reduce costs to the agricultural industry, and protect the environment. In his veto message the Governor stated “this bill is not warranted. The Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, using her existing authority, can meet with other state agencies and identify how to improve regulatory coordination and efficiency.”

Governor Vetoes Bill to Prohibit Arbitration Agreements

 

Oct. 2, 2018  – – The past legislative session saw many bills attempting to address the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace.  One of those measures would prohibit arbitration agreements in all employment contracts.  Assembly Bill 3080 (Gonzalez Fletcher), has been vetoed by Governor Brown. AB 3080 would have prohibited non-disclosure agreements regarding sexual harassment, as well as ban arbitration agreements for any alleged violation of the Labor Code or the Fair Employment and Housing Act in the Government.

Labor and employment laws can be equally enforced in arbitration as they can in court because arbitration only specifies the forum in which the dispute is resolved. It does not result in any diminution in an employee’s substantive rights. This is the fundamental claim of the proponents of banning arbitration, but it is not factually correct. For example, when arbitration agreements attempted to ban punitive damages, or shorten a statute of limitations, those were all struck down by California courts.

The bill was not limited to sexual harassment claims. Rather, the bill would have applied to all claims made under the Labor Code and the Fair Employment & Housing Act in the Government Code. This makes AB 3080 much broader than a similar bill vetoed by Governor Brown in 2015 (AB 465, Hernandez).

Opponents argued that AB 3080 would violate federal law by precluding arbitration agreements in all employment disputes. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down state legislation that prohibits, restricts or interferes with arbitration agreements.  Additionally, they argue the legislation precludes settlement agreements of any claim under the Labor Code and FEHA that include a waiver. Precluding the informal resolution of civil claims would likely overwhelm California’s judiciary by forcing all claims to be tried by a jury or judge, creating significant delays that would harm individuals who have suffered a wrong.  It could have also impacted low wage workers who may not have claims large enough to provide incentive to incentivize plaintiff attorneys to sue in court.

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Announced

Oct. 2, 2018 – -U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has issued the following statement regarding the announcement of a United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):

“The great news of a new USMCA deal is important for our economy as a whole, including the agricultural sector, which counts Canada and Mexico in our top three trading partners. I have long said that I believe our country is located in the best neighborhood on Earth – North America – with valuable allies to our north and south.  We have secured greater access to these vital markets and will maintain and improve the highly productive integrated agricultural relationship we have as nations. Notably, as one of the President’s top goals, this deal eliminates Canada’s unfair ‘Class 7’ milk pricing scheme, cracks open additional access to U.S. dairy into Canada, and imposes new disciplines on Canada’s supply management system. The agreement also preserves and expands critical access for U.S. poultry and egg producers and addresses Canada’s discriminatory wheat grading process to help U.S. wheat growers along the border become more competitive.

“As we celebrate this breakthrough, it is worth noting that there were many detractors who said it couldn’t be done.  But this is further proof that President Trump’s trade negotiation strategy is working. A renewed USMCA, a new KORUS agreement, and the continued progress with Japan, can lead to further deals with other trading partners like the European Union and China. The dominoes are falling and it is good news for U.S. farmers. I thank President Trump and our U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Lighthizer for their perseverance, leadership, and hard work.”

To read more visit:

* USMCA trade fact sheet on Strengthening North American Trade in Agriculture.

* USMCA trade fact sheet on Market Access and Dairy Outcomes.