NEWS & ISSUES

CalOSHA to Consider Final Wildfire Smoke Regulation

Earlier this year, the CalOSHA Standards Board held a Public Hearing to consider revisions to Title 8, Section 5141.1 of the General Industry Safety Orders which covers requirements for employers when the air quality index for PM2.5 is 151 or greater and the employer reasonably anticipates that employees may be exposed to wildfire smoke.  Those requirements include the employer providing N95 masks to all affected employees.  CalOSHA received oral and written comments on the proposed revisions, including those from the Assoication, and subsequently modified the proposed regulation as a result of these comments and Board consideration. Unfortunately, the proposed changes do not address the Association’s concernsincluding the lack of availability of N95 masks, and how to determine “reasonably anticipate exposure to smoke”.  Comments on this latest draft are under a 15 day comment period and due on August 12.  Later this year, the CalOSHA Standards Board will consider the adoption of the final regulation.  The Association will once again be weighing in and expressing our concerns on the proposed regulation.

Governor Dismisses Dept. of Finance Report – 2021 Minimum Wage Increase to Move Forward

In January, California will be heading into the 5th year of a multi-year stair-stepped increase in minimum wage eventually capping out at $15 per hour.  Current state law provides the Governor with an “off ramp” if certain economic conditions are met.  The state labor code specifically requires the Department of Finance annually to determine whether or not the economy can support a minimum wage increase, and sets for the criteria by which the Governor can suspend the minimum wage.

On Wednesday, July 27th, the Department of Finance released their “Determination and Certification” that stated the “current economic and General Fund fiscal conditions allow the Governor to make the determination whether to temporarily suspend the next minimum wage increase on January 1, 2021 (see attached letter).  As you know on January 1, 2021 minimum wage will increase $13 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees, and $14 per hour for employers with more than 25 employees.

In response, today the Governor issued a press release today summarily dismissing the DOF information and said the minimum wage increase will move forward as planned stating, “As we continue our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must also ensure that as our economy recovers, all Californians can benefit in its growth. Not allowing this increase to go forward will only make life harder for those Californians who have already borne a disproportionate share of the economic hardship caused by this pandemic. Many of them are on the front lines of the pandemic, providing child care, working in our hospitals and nursing facilities and making sure there’s food on grocery store shelves.”

This despite the release of a recent economic report on the impacts to agriculture from COVID -19 that estimates the direct economic impact to agriculture to be between $5.9 billion to $8.6 billion, and secondary impacts to be between $4.1 and $6.5 billion.  The report prepared by ERA Economics LLC entitled “Economic Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on California Agriculture” estimates the impact on cotton to be $166 million and tree nuts to be between $486 million to $728 million.

Director of Finance Determination and Certification

Statement in Response to Western Farm Press Article on Agricultural ByProducts

Roger A. Isom
President/CEO
California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association
Western Agricultural Processors Association

This week, the Western Farm Press published an article entitled “California bill will effectively ban feeding food byproducts to livestock”.  The subtitle states “California livestock producers will lose food processing byproducts as feed source under state plan.”

This statement is misleading and overly broad.  The fear that this legislation will impact hulls and shells is simply unfounded based on its current form.  The legislation referred to in the article is AB 2959 by Assemblyman Calderon, and can be found here.  This bill is limited in scope and is intended to address past legislation pertaining to organic byproducts going to livestock feed.  AB 3036 (Cooley), attempted to clarify that byproducts going to animal feed are not defined as waste and therefore not subject to franchise waste hauler agreements.  It failed in that effort, which is why AB 2959 has been introduced.  This bill seeks to narrow the types of facilities covered by AB 3036 that traditionally divert byproducts for animal feed. Specifically, AB 2959 would exclude supermarkets, grocers, restaurants, and other retail food establishments from the list of facilities covered by AB 3036.  That is it.

Nowhere in the bill does it discuss, or elude to, hulls, shell or any other agricultural byproduct.  These products are not waste; they are a commodity and already protected from inclusion in a franchise waste hauler agreement.   Unfortunately, as is the case with this article, the matter has been sensationalized in an effort to broaden the opposition to the bill.  We are sympathetic to the potential issues this bill would create for the dairy industry in the loss of some organic byproducts.  However, to say that all byproducts, including cottonseed and almond hulls, are in jeopardy is not accurate.  We are closely monitoring this bill, as we have all session long and will continue to do so.

UCCE is conducting an online questionnaire for field crop production and we need your assistance!

Who: Growers, consultants, and allied industry for field crop production in California

What: a 15-20 minute online questionnaire to gather information about your concerns, challenges, and preferences for extension information and approaches. Can be taken from a phone or computer. The first $100 participants will receive a $10 giftcard to Starbucks.

Participate Here

Why: We want your needs and interests to better guide UCCE research and extension efforts. Your input will highlight the most important issues facing field crop production in California and help us set priorities for future programming.

Thank you for your time. Your responses are incredibly important in helping UCCE identify how we can better serve your needs and interests. 

All responses are anonymous and your answers will be kept confidential. The results will be shared in an aggregate form via reports and presentations. The questionnaire is open until Friday, August 21, 2020.

If you have questions, please contact the project team at fieldcrops@ucdavis.edu (Nick Clark, Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, Mark Lundy, Bruce Linquist, Whitney Brim-DeForest, Sarah Light, Vikram Koundinya, Bob Hutmacher, Cameron PIttelkow, and Jessie Kanter)

COVID-19 Industry Briefs for Agriculture

As employers deal with the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, having proper guidance, information, and resources are vital to protecting their business and the health of their employees. These webinars are being offered to California Agribusiness Association members who have responsibility for COVID-19 safety related issues, and are offered complimentary in partnership with California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association and Zenith Insurance. Click this link.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR – 2020-2021 Cotton Research Request for Proposals

The California Cotton Industry Research Committee (CCIRC) will be sending out a Request for Proposals in mid to late July seeking research projects related to the cotton production industry. The CCIRC is made up of representatives from California Cotton Ginners & Growers Association, California Cotton Alliance as well as the Cotton Incorporated: State Support Committee. Projects should address the following priorities as recommended by the CCGGA Board of Directors:

2020-2021 Research Priorities

  • Diseases (FOV resistance, variety screening, seed and soil treatments, pathology work in lab and field plus Seedling Disease issues)
  • Sticky Cotton (Development of better detection and measurement system and standards and continue educational efforts)
  • Contamination (Research ways to detect plastic in the seed cotton and eliminate where possible)
  • Insect Management and Control (Efficacy screening of new and old products and promote intro of new chemistries with low VOC, focus on Lygus and Aphid control)
  • Water Management (Regional with varying soil types and Page 3—The Cotton Chronicle irrigation methods with emphasis on efficiencies, conservation, nitrogen, and salt management)
  • Weed Management (Resistance Management to existing products and introduction of new chemistries)
  • Nutrient Management (Focus on nutrient management while taking into account factors of soil type, irrigation method, efficiencies, etc.)

The deadline to submit projects will be Monday, August 24th. Projects will be reviewed by the committee on Tuesday, September 8th to make funding decisions. With this advance notice, we hope that researchers can begin reviewing the prioritized research topics and have ample time to submit projects. If you have any questions, please contact Priscilla Rodriguez at (559) 252-0684 or priscilla@ccgga.org

Reverse The Decline

California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association has joined 51 organizations, urging Gov. Newsom, Lt. Gov. Kounalakis, and the Legislature to take action to reverse the decline in West Coast ports’ market share before CA permanently loses jobs and direly needed state revenue. See the letter here.

Cotton Board Seeking Nominations for Board Members

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeks nominations of domestic cotton producers from Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas, and importers of cotton and cotton-containing products for positions on the Cotton Board. The producers and importers will fill positions for 13 members and 13 alternates. USDA will appoint members and alternates to serve three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2023.   The mission of Research and Promotion (R&P) programs is to expand, maintain and develop markets for individual commodities in the United States and abroad. This mission is an important contributor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) overall vision related to “providing economic opportunity through innovation and helping rural America thrive and promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while helping to feed others throughout the world.” Through the guidance of the R&P board members, appointed by Secretary Perdue, these programs execute a variety of activities benefitting agriculture.  Consequently, the input and decision making provided by the board members is the foundation for success of these R&P programs.

Certified producer organizations (CPOs) and certified importer organizations (CIOs) will hold caucuses to nominate two qualified persons for each open position in their respective industry segment.  Producer caucuses are scheduled as follows and all times are local times:

  • Arkansas: Wednesday, July 8 at noon
  • California: Wednesday, July 15 at 10 a.m.
  • Louisiana: Thursday, July 16 at 10 a.m.
  • Mississippi: Friday, July 10 at noon
  • North Carolina: Monday, July 20 at 3:20 p.m.
  • Texas: Wednesday, July 22 at 10 a.m.

For nominating and caucus information, including organizations seeking certification and a list of CPOs and CIOs, contact Cotton Research and Promotion at (540) 361-2726 or CottonRP@usda.gov.
More information is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service Cotton Board webpage or on the board’s website at www.cottonboard.org.