NEWS & ISSUES

Cal/OSHA Readopts Revisions to ETS

On June 17, 2021, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board readopts revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) and by executive order signed by the Governor, these revisions are effective immediately.  Some of the revisions include:

  • Fully vaccinated employees do not need to wear face coverings. Employers must document vaccination status.
  • Unvaccinated employees are to wear face coverings indoors or in vehicles.
  • Respirators (N95s) must be provided for voluntary use to unvaccinated employees who request them, at no cost and without fear of retaliation.
  • Outdoor workers are not required to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status, except during outbreaks.
  • Physical distancing requirements are removed except where employer determines there is a hazard and during major outbreaks.
  • Employers must offer COVID-19 testing at no cost and during paid time
  • Employers must evaluate ventilation systems to maximize outdoor air, increase filtration efficiency and evaluate the use of additional air cleaning systems.
  • Employer-provided housing and transportation are exempt from the regulations where all employees are fully vaccinated.

 

There are requirements that remain in place from the November 2020 ETS, those are:

  • Written COVID-19 Prevention Plan;
  • Effective training with instructions on the employer’s prevention plan and employee rights under the ETS;
  • Notification of outbreaks to local public health departments;
  • Notification to employees of exposure and close contacts;
  • Procedures for responding to COVID-19 cases and outbreaks;
  • Offer testing after potential exposures;
  • Implement exclusion pay requirements; and
  • Employer-provided housing and transportation prevention requirements.

In regards to vaccination status, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations.  Other laws, not in EEOC’s jurisdiction, may place additional restrictions on employers.  From an EEO perspective, employers should keep in mind that because some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement.

In addition, the employer shall develop and implement a process for screening employees and responding to employees with COVID-19 symptoms. The employer may ask employees to evaluate their own symptoms before reporting to work. If the employer conducts screening indoors at the workplace, the employer shall ensure that face coverings are used during screening by both screeners and employees who are not fully vaccinated and, if temperatures are measured, that non-contact thermometers are used.

To assist our members, we will be providing updates to the COVID-19 Prevention Plans.

Urgent Advisory – Be on the Lookout for Trespassers During Pesticide Applications

This is an urgent advisory to be on the lookout for people trespassing on to farms in the towns of Raisin City, Cantua Creek and Caruthers during or immediately after pesticide applications.  Participants of a study by the Central California Environmental Justice Network are being paid to carry backpacks with air monitoring equipment in these locations from May through August.  We are concerned these activists may attempt to enter a field or orchard during a pesticide application or immediately thereafter in order to make sure they get a “detect” on their air monitoring equipment.  This effort is led by the Central California Environmental Justice Network.  For years, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) has been conducting community air monitoring, and there been very few detections of pesticides, and none that exceeded any risk levels of actual concern.   Frustrated with the lack of evidence, the environmental justice community is resorting to using unproven and unapproved methods and equipment to attempt to demonstrate pesticides are impacting residents in these communities.  Considering these activists are getting paid to prove detections, we are concerned with just how far these activists will go to attempt to prove pesticide exposures.  Should you see anyone in or around the edge of your field or orchard, we urge you to immediately contact the County Sherriff’s office and the county ag commissioner.  We have already warned the Sherriff and the Ag Commissioner of this potential threat.   

2021 CCGGA Annual Meeting Update

Yesterday, the California Cotton Ginners and Growers held their 2021 Annual Meeting at the Tulare Agri-Center.  With COVID-19 restrictions easing for in person meetings, the Association was happy to host and update the membership on various issues surrounding the industry.  Breakout rooms were organized, and attendees heard updates on topics currently impacting both the growing and ginning industries.  Attendees reconvened in the afternoon to hear cotton marketplace forecast from Leigh Pell with the Western Cotton Shippers Association, and were provided an update on the National Farm Policy Outlook from Tas Smith with the National Cotton Council.  Association staff then updated the membership on various efforts on both State and Federal rules and regulations.
After Association staff made their presentation, Chairman Bryan Bone took time to recognize Tom Gaffney for his commitment to the association as past Chairman.  Todd Fitchette with Western Farm Press made a presentation, and provided the 2021 High Cotton Award to Hansen Ranches for their ongoing efforts to improve growing practices and commitment to the cotton industry.  Attendees heard an informative presentation from Dan Walters with CalMatters on the political climate within the State of California.  The Association would like to recognize thank all of our Annual Meeting sponsors, especially PhytoGen and Samuel Strapping for their 5 Bale sponsorship this year.   With COVID restrictions easing, the Association looks forward to hosting the event again next year.

Governor Releases May Revise Budget

The May Revise to the Governor’s proposed budget has been released and there is good news and bad news.  On the good news side, there is money for things like air quality incentives, water and environmental upgrades.  The bad news…there is not enough of it to meet this state’s own unrealistic mandates.  And there is money to fund more anti-farming activism through pesticide notification activities, something that this administration has as a priority.

The funding for the FARMER program which funds the replacement of old Tier 0, 1, and 2 tractors could not have come at a more important time.  The deadline to achieve 11 tons per day of NOx emissions is less than two years away.  The Governor is proposing $363 million over two years.  Without this incentive money, agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley would be faced with a mandatory tractor replacement regulation much like the state’s Truck Regulation.  However, the money is still less than the California Air Resources Board’s own call for $193 million for four years to meet the mandate.  The Governor also proposed $150 million towards solving the agricultural burn elimination issue in the San Joaquin Valley, but this is much less than the estimated $290 million agriculture believes it will take to end the practice.

On the water front, the Governor is proposing a $5.1 billion investment, over four years, to align with his July 2020 Water Resilience Portfolio. The package includes:

  • $1.3 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, with a focus on small and disadvantaged communities.
  • $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling projects.
  • $300 million for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation to improve water supply security, water quality and water reliability.
  • $200 million for water conveyance improvements to repair major water delivery systems damaged by subsidence.
  • $500 million for multi-benefit land repurposing to provide long-term, flexible support for water users.
  • $230 million for wildlife corridor and fish passage projects to improve the ability of wildlife to migrate safely.
  • $200 million for habitat restoration to support tidal wetland, floodplain, and multi-benefit flood-risk reduction projects.
  • $91 million for critical data collection to repair and augment the state’s water data infrastructure to improve forecasting, monitoring, and assessment of hydrologic conditions.
  • $60 million for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program grants to help farmers reduce irrigation water use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural pumping.
  • $33 million for fisheries and wildlife support to protect and conserve California’s diverse ecosystems.
  • $27 million for emergency and permanent solutions to drinking water drought emergencies.

Lastly the May Revision proposes $10 million one-time General Fund to implement a statewide infrastructure network to provide access to information about local pesticide use. The Department of Pesticide Regulation will be launching a process this summer to develop and adopt the statewide regulations necessary for advanced public notification of certain pesticide applications.   Coupled with the massive increase in the pesticide mill tax, it is clear this administration is targeting pesticide use in California.

CCGGA Hosting Golf Tournament PAC Fundraiser May 11th

This year, the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association invites you to join us at Lemoore Municipal Golf Course on May 11th for a PAC Fundraiser Golf Tournament.  The tournament is being held the day before CCGGA’s Annual Meeting at the International Agri-Center in Tulare on May 12th.  Registration for the golf tournament is $100 per player.  Registration includes practice balls on the range, green fees and cart, as well as a tri tip sandwich lunch.  Registration for the event starts at 8 am, with the shotgun start at 9 am.  Payment for the event must be made via check.  If you wish to donate to the Association’s Federal PAC, we ask that you provide a personal check.  Due to Federal PAC donations requirements, contributions for Federal PACs cannot be made via company check.  Please find the tournament notice and registration page below.  If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Chris McGlothlin at chris@ccgga.org, or by phone (559) 547-0288.

PAC Golf Notice & Registration Page

Reminder: May 5, 2021 Bull Session

Hot Topics: Drilling Down on COVID-Related Best Practices: Dealing with Leaves of Absences, Wage and Hour Traps and Employees Gaming the System

Please join one of three Bull Session offerings at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. via Zoom as follows:

Linkhttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/84997127000?pwd=OG9ldXVFY1l0Y1M3b0dsNGdLRDVKUT09
Webinar ID: 849 9712 7000
Passcode: 185144

State DWR Announces First 6 SGMA Projects to be Funded

Today, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced the funding recommendation to fully award the available $26 million of Proposition 68 grant funding to 6 awardees. This money is from the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program Implementation Round 1 and goes toward projects that will help support Critically Overdrafted (COD) Basins.  The six projects awarded are as follows:

Organization Name Project Award
Fresno Irrigation District Kings Basin 2021 GSP Implementation Projects $4,866,600
Madera County Eastside Bypass Recharge for Subsidence and Flood Risk Reduction Phase 1 $4,197,600
Madera County East Madera Subbasin Recharge Project Phase 1 $4,197,600
Merced Irrigation District Southern Merced Subbasin Recharge Project $4,999,800
Mid-Kaweah GSA Kaweah Subbasin Groundwater Recharge and Sustainability Projects $3,776,400

Westlands Water District GSA

The Pasajero Groundwater Recharge Project $3,962,400

The SGM Grant Program received 15 applications totaling over $70 million in requested grant funds.  The six recommended award grants are comprised of 16 individual construction projects within COD basins that will construct seven new and expand three existing recharge basin covering over 130 acres.

Cotton Industry Says Goodbye to Skeet Trapnell

Robert Gary “Skeet” Trapnell, 79, died March 15, 2021 at Cedar Plantation in Metter, Georgia, from complications of Alzheimer ‘s disease.  Skeet was a graduate of Metter High School, The Georgia Institute of Technology, and The Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California. Upon graduation from Georgia Tech in 1963, he enlisted in the United States Navy, where he proudly served as a naval aviator for 20 years, flying combat during the Vietnam War.  After retirement from the Navy, he settled in Lemoore, California, where he became involved in farming and agri-business. He was employed by Harris Farms as the cotton gin manager, one of the corporate pilots, and co-manager of the crop dusting operation, a company in which he later became a partner and expanded the scope to include a custom farming operation. He was instrumental in the design and construction of the Harris-Woolf almond processing plant and briefly managed that facility as well.  Skeet was one of the earliest growers of pistachios in Kings County, California, developing his own orchard shortly before his retirement from the Navy. As with anything he attempted, he established a first class operation, and prospective new growers often sought his advice, which he freely and enthusiastically gave.  He was called out of retirement from “public work”, as he called it, two additional times to help develop a concrete crushing operation for his friend Dave Bush, of Dave Bush Construction and by former employer John Harris to assist in the establishment of an organic garlic processing plant.

Active in civic affairs, Skeet was a member of the Kings County Planning Commission, serving as chairman for two terms. He was a member and chairman of the Clark’s Fork Water Conservation District, and a member of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Advisory Committee.   Although Skeet often said he would die with his boots on in his beloved orchard, the pull of home became stronger, and he and his wife Jan decided to sell their California holdings in 2017 and retire in their hometown of Metter, Georgia.

 

He is survived by his wife of 29 years Jan Cromartie Trapnell, a stepson, Hugh E. “Hec” Cromartie, III (Connie)of Eastvale, CA, a stepdaughter Jana (Thomas) Sasser of Edisto Island, SC, a brother, Jerry (Sally) Trapnell of Clemson, SC, five step grandsons, Jackson, Memphis and Lincoln Cromartie, and T.C. and Robert Esten Sasser.  Services were held back in March in Georgia.  Remembrances may be made to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, FDR Station, PO Box 220, New York, NY 10150, or Metter United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 595, Metter, GA 30439.

 

State Insurance Commissioner to Investigate Commercial Insurance Issue

Responding to the Association, State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has issued an information request from all commercial insurance carriers operating in California on the availability and cost of commercial insurance for business operating in California.  This follows meetings in Sacramento and in our office on the issue with Commissioner Lara, where the Association reported on the overwhelming lack of commercial insurance following the devastating wildfires in the state, and the cost of insurance that is available.  The Commissioner has given insurance companies 60 days to respond to the request with a deadline of June 14th, 2021.  While this is no guarantee our issue is going to be resolved this year, at least the Commissioner is following through on his promise to investigate the issue and put serious pressure on the insurance industry to not penalize those of us who have nothing to do with the wildfires.  Stay tuned for more details as the investigation continues.

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CCGGA Annual Meeting Announced

The California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA) is announcing the 2021 CCGGA Annual Meeting to be held on Wednesday, May 12th at the International Agri-Center located at 4500 S. Laspina in Tulare, California.  Registration packets will be going out to all regular and associate members this week.  There is an information packed agenda that begins at 7:30 with registration and ends following lunch.  The featured speaker will be Dan Walters from CalMatters.    Walters has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, spending all but a few of those years working for California newspapers, and has written more than 9,000 columns for the Sacramento Union and the Sacramento Bee and continues his column for CalMatters, a non-profit journalistic organization which distributes to dozens of California news outlets.  He has written about California and its politics for a number of other publications, including the Wall Street Journal. He is also an author and contributor, two books of which are, “The Third House: Lobbyists, Power and Money in Sacramento” and “The New California: Facing the 21st Century”.

Association staff has met with Agri-Center staff and COVID safety protocols will be in place for now including mask requirements and social distancing.  You can click on the respective links to access the Tentative Agenda and Registration FormAttendance is free, but you must be registered!