NEWS & ISSUES

Executive Order to “Limited Stay at Home” Sample Letter

Click Here For Sample Letter

By now you have all heard of the Governor’s Executive Order to “Limited Stay at Home”.  As of November 21, 2020, it is required that all non-essential work and activities stop between 10 pm and 5 am in counties in Widespread (purple) tier.

We want to make you aware that agriculture and companies that support agriculture are exempt.  The Governor’s Order clearly references new guidance just released by the Department of Homeland Security that classifies agriculture and the business that support agriculture as “essential critical infrastructure” that must be maintained.  Therefore, your operations will continue to be allowed to operate.  That guidance lists the following as essential:

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE

• Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail that sells food and beverage products
• Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations – Carry-out and delivery food employees
• Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging
• Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically
• Farm workers and support service workers to include those who field crops; commodity inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; and other agricultural inputs
• Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers
• Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail
• Company cafeterias – in-plant cafeterias used to feed employees
• Workers in food testing labs in private industries and in institutions of higher education
• Workers essential for assistance programs and government payments
• Employees of companies engaged in the production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines, and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry, including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids
• Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; transportation of live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; raising of animals for food; animal production operations; slaughter and packing plants and associated regulatory and government workforce
• Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products
• Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution

Furthermore, we are aware of instances where workers have been stopped by law enforcement in counties where “shelter in place” ordinances have been adopted.  For those situations we have attached a sample letter you can provide each of your employees with in case that happens.

U.S. EPA Settles Lawsuits with Trucking Companies Over Violations

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) settled with three interstate trucking companies after those companies violated the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Truck and Bus Regulation while operating in California.  The three trucking companies will pay over $400,000 in penalties, and replace or retrofit existing equipment to meet Truck and Bus Regulation standards.  One of the trucking companies was cited for using non-compliant Transportation Refrigeration Unit (TRU’s) equipment, whereas another company was cited for not having particulate matter filters installed on various equipment.  The remaining trucking company was cited for not verifying that the carriers it had hired were Truck and Bus compliant.  In the end, the last company not in compliance with the Truck and Bus rule will have to pay over $175,000 in civil penalties.  This is a reminder that all trucking companies, whether owned and operated by your business or sub-contracted out, must meet Truck and Bus Regulation requirements.  Specifically, a company that owns and operates heavy duty diesel trucks must have the current year’s TRUCRS compliance certificate.

President Donald Trump signs Executive Order on Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure

This week, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on “Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure.” This action ensures Federal coordination on water policy is standard practice now and into the future by formally establishing a Water Subcabinet of senior Federal agency officials to facilitate efficient and effective management and modernization of our water supplies and systems while also eliminating duplication between agencies.

The new, formalized Water Subcabinet will be co-chaired by Interior Secretary Bernhardt and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and will include senior officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Army (Civil Works).

Under the Executive Order, the Water Subcabinet will:

  • Promote effective and efficient water resources management by reducing duplication between Federal agencies developing water policy;
  • Develop a national water strategy to ensure the reliability of our water supplies, water quality, water systems, and water forecasting;
  • Protect taxpayer investments and improve water infrastructure planning by promoting integrated planning and coordination for drinking water, wastewater, water reuse, water storage and delivery, and water resource management; and
  • Support and enhance workforce development to recruit, train, and retain water sector professionals.

You can read the entire press release here.

EMPLOYER’S NEW NOTICE AND REPORTING OBLIGATIONS FOR COVID-19 WORKPLACE EXPOSURE

Written by The Saqui Law Group and Jorge Lopez Espindola
Category: General Legal Updates  Published: 13 October 2020

In response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill (“AB”) 685, requiring employers to notify every employee of potential COVID-19 exposure at the workplace. Governor Newsom signed AB 685 into law and it will go into effect on January 1, 2021. AB 685 will bring the following changes to employers in California:

Expand Cal/OSHA’s Power to Issue Stop Work Orders
AB 685 expands Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue Stop Work Orders for workplaces that pose risk of an “imminent hazard” in relation to COVID-19. This “imminent hazard” is a hazard that threatens immediate and serious physical harm. This allows Cal/OSHA to prohibit entry into a section of a business or place of employment where there is an imminent risk of COVID-19 exposure and requires the immediate area where the imminent hazard exists to be prohibited. Violation of this law order is considered a criminal offense.

Employers Must Notify Employees of COVID-19 Exposures
AB 685 establishes a comprehensive notice procedure that employers must follow, within one (1) business day, when they receive notice of potential exposure to COVID-19:

  1. Provide written notice in a manner typically used to communicate to all employees, employers of subcontracted employees, and employee-representatives (e.g., unions), where they may have been exposed to the virus. Employers may send a letter, email, or text message, but only if employees anticipate receiving communication from the employer in this manner. The notification must be in writing and a phone call will not satisfy this requirement. Also, written communication should be in English, and the language understood by the majority of the employees;
  2. Provide written notice to all employees and employee representatives regarding COVID-19 related benefits that employees may receive, including paid sick leave, workers’ compensation, and anti-retaliation protections;
  3. Notify all employees regarding the Company’s disinfection protocols and safety plan to eliminate any further exposures;
  4. Notify California’s Department of Public Health if there are sufficient COVID-19 positive cases that meet the definition of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Fast-Tracks Cal/OSHA’s Citation Procedure
Normally, when Cal/OSHA intends to issue a serious citation, they give an employer some notice of the imminent citation to allow the employer to defend itself before the issuance of the formal citation. AB 685 disperses with the employer’s opportunity to defend itself before the formal issuance of a COVID-19 related-serious citation. Therefore, if Cal/OSHA issues a serious citation, employers should closely monitor the statute of limitations to respond to the citation in a timely manner. Employers should also contact counsel to evaluate the citation since penalties can be shocking.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT
Employers should have a COVID-19 preparedness plan. Employers should develop a plan NOW on how to comply with AB 685—January 1st is looming near. If you have any questions about how this new law will affect your company, contact the experts at The Saqui Law Group.

Notice In PDF Format

Senator Melissa Hurtado joins CCGGA in Promoting Awareness during COVID-19

In an ongoing effort to bring awareness and educate folks in the cotton industry, Senator Melissa Hurtado reminds folks of the precautions everyone should take during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her messaging is simple, follow the recommended practices to stay safe, such as:

1. Wear your mask!
2. Stay six feet apart!
3. Always wash your hands!
4. Sanitize your hands and frequently touched surfaces!

Do your part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and staying safe. Please share these videos with your family, friends, and employees through social media and/or incorporate the videos into your trainings. The videos are both in English and Spanish.

We would like to give a very special thank you to Senator Melissa Hurtado for joining CCGGA on this important effort to keep everyone safe!

English
Spanish

Pink Bollworm Program – Silverleaf Whitefly Report 9/07/2020 – 9/18/2020

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Pink Bollworm Program has released its report for monitoring Silverleaf Whitefly. The program monitored for whitefly and other cotton pests from September 7, 2020 to September 18, 2020.  Aphids and whitefly continue to increase.  Growers must remain vigilant against these pests. NO STICKY COTTON! For the full report, please follow the link below.

Silverleaf Whitefly Monitoring Report

NO on Proposition 15 Campaign – UPDATE

As you all know by now, Proposition 15 is on the ballot this year in November, and if passed would create $12.5 billion in new taxes, the largest tax hike in our state’s history.  It would do so by eliminating the 1% cap on property taxes for businesses throughout the state, including agricultural processing facilities such as cotton gins.  In addition, it would trigger annual reassessments for agricultural fixtures, such as irrigation systems, solar installations on farms and processors, barns, and even permanent crop trees and vines.

In a year like 2020, it is difficult to fathom we are facing something like Proposition 15.  For cotton growers and ginners, the time to take a stand is right now! We need every member to contribute!

Therefore, we are respectfully asking each of our members to send us a check for $500 to $1,000 to help specifically on this effort.

Please fill out the attached form and make the check payable to Alliance of California’s Farmers and Ranchers and mail it back to our office at 1785 N. Fine Avenue, Fresno, California, 93727.  If you should have any questions, please call our office at (559)252-0684.

Form