NEWS & ISSUES

USDA Invests $700 million to Provide Relief to Small Producers, Processors, Distributors, Farmers Markets & Seafood Processing Vessels and Processors Impacted by COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will soon publish Requests for Applications (RFAs) for new grant programs – the Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant program to support agricultural stakeholders who haven’t yet received substantial federal financial assistance in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. These grant programs will provide assistance to small businesses in certain commodity areas, including small scale specialty crop producers and processors, shellfish, aquaculture and other select producers, meat and other processors, distributors, farmers markets, seafood facilities and processing vessels.

Specialty crop producers, meat processors, and famers markets will be able to seek reimbursements for pandemic-related expenses, such as workplace safety improvements, medical costs (i.e., for vaccines/testing), retrofitting facilities, transportation etc., through this program. Find the full list here.

USDA released grant forecast for these new programs to help potential applicants determine their eligibility and to prepare to apply for funding. Approximately $650 million in funding is available for the PRS grants and $50 million is available for SPRS. The new programs are funded by the Pandemic Assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

For the PRS grants, eligible entities are detailed in the Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program forecast. Eligible entities should visit the PRS grant portal at https://usda-prs.grantsolutions.gov/usda for complete information on the program. Applicants will be required to have a DUNS number to apply, to obtain a free of charge DUNS Number from Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) for USDA PRS Grant Applicants click  here.

The application period will open on September 23rd and close on November 8th; entities will need their DUNS number to submit an application.

Associations Support AgOne BBQ

The California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations (CCGGA) and the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) participated in, and supported, the 2021 AgOne Foundation BBQ held at the Panoche Creek River Ranch.  The very successful event was held this past Sunday, September 12th.  The Associations hosted State Senator Melissa Hurtado, along with several members from both Associations.  Joining the Association was CCGGA Chairman Bryan Bone and his wife Linda, CCGGA 2nd Vice Chair Gary Martin and his wife Mari, CCGGA Board Member Wade Van Hooser and his wife Josie, WAPA past Chairman Butch Coburn and his wife Lori.  Also in attendance was CCGGA Board Member, and current AgOne Chairman, Jim Razor from the JG Boswell Company, WAPA Board Member and AgOne Board Member Jason Baldwin, and WAPA past Chairman Mike Kelley.  The Association was represented by President/CEO Roger Isom and Director of Technical Services Christopher McGlothlin, both of whom were put to work at the event manning the bar!  All proceeds from the event go to fund scholarships to ag students at Fresno State.  This year, AgOne will provide more than $950,000 in scholarships!

Cotton Seed Bug – Be on the Lookout!

In 2019, a cotton seed bug was found and identified in Los Angeles, California.  At the time it was a single find, and no other specimens were found in the vicinity.  Unfortunately, in 2020 the cotton seed bug was found and identified in five more locations across three counties, including Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties.  While the locations remain more than 100 miles from the nearest cotton fields, we are concerned with the potential spread of this devastating pest to cotton fields in California.

This pest, as the name suggests, attacks the cotton seed, but damages the lint on its way into the seed.  More importantly, if this pest were to be found in cotton it could end the shipment of cotton planting seed out of California as more than likely a quarantine area would be established.  We are currently working with USDA and CDFA to find a way to trap the pest and possibly keep this pest in the LA Basin, maybe even eradicate it.  In the meantime, we are asking growers and PCAs to be on the lookout for this pest.  Attached is a technical bulletin that describes the pest in detail and includes pictures of the pest in various life cycles.  Should you see one of these bugs, please contact your local county ag commissioner or the local CDFA Field office.  It is imperative that we stay ahead of this devastating invasive pest.

Cotton Seed Bug Technical Bulletin

Association Submits Comments on WOTUS Rule

the Association submitted comments on the Biden Administration’s proposal to reconsider the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rulemaking.  The Association expressed concerns with reopening the rulemaking, stating that under the Trump Administration the Navigable Protection Waters Rule (NWPR) brought clarity to a regulation that had caused consternation and conflict for years.  The NWPR finally eliminated debate and questions on issues like whether drainage ditches were navigable waters, and numerous other contentious examples of inconsistency with implementation of the rules.  The NWPR finally brought the clarity and understanding necessary for farming to move forward.  The Association expressed concern that reopening the regulation would only serve to bring back the inconsistency and questions.

Cotton Harvest Safety Training

No Cost to attend.  Registration is Free! 

SESSION INFORMATION
Date: Thursday, September 23
Time: Check-in at 8 a.m.; Training from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Location: UC West Side Research and Extension Center, 17353 W. Oakland Ave., Five Points
Cost: No-cost

The training will cover equipment safety (preparation and operation), electrical hazards, heat illness prevention and road safety. All information will be provided in English and Spanish. Certificates will be given upon completion. The training will be provided by Zenith Agribusiness Solutions.

The training is sponsored by California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association and FCFB.

Register Here

 

Sticky Cotton Prevention Meetings 8/17-8/18

Meeting #1 – Dos Palos
When:  Tuesday, August 17th at 9:00 am
Where: Dos Palos Cooperative Gin, 7870 W.
Hutchins Road, Dos Palos, CA
Gin Manager – Mike Davis

Meeting #2 – Corcoran
When:  Wednesday, August 18th at 8:00 am
Where: Cross Creek II Gin, LLC, 2411 Whitley,
Corcoran, CA
Gin Manager – Kirk Gilkey

The meeting will be put on by UC Cooperative Extension, represented by Dr. Bob Hutmacher, State Cotton Specialist, and Dr. Ian Grettenberger, CE Specialist – Entomologist.  The sessions will last approximately 1 ½ hours.  Please call the Association office at (559) 252-0684 or email at shana@ccgga.org to RSVP.

Incentive Funding for Electric Forklift Available

The VW Mitigation Trust announced that up to $175,000 per forklift is available to help forklift owners buy all-electric forklifts. Applications will be accepted on first-come first-served basis through September 22, 2021.

Key Program Details

  • Applies to forklifts with lift capacity of 8,000 lbs or greater
  • May be anywhere in California and in any use or sector

How It Works

  • Must scrap old forklift with internal combustion engine (Tier 4 diesel or earlier. LPG forklifts eligible. LSI forklifts eligible.)
  • Must replace with all-electric forklift (battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell or grid-tied)

For more information regarding the program or to apply visit the Program Website or reach out to CaliforniaVWTrust@baaqmd.gov.

Informational Flyer

Tractor Fuel Consumption/Cost Research Study

The Association is working with Cal Poly researchers to review and examine maintenance and repair costs, as well as fuel efficiency for tractors.  Agribusiness professors Drs. Michael McCullough and Lynn Hamilton have developed a brief (10 minute) questionnaire regarding operating and maintenance time and rates for agricultural tractors. The information will supplement data collected from tractor service providers in California and tractor technical specifications obtained from the University of Nebraska Tractor Test Lab. No personal or identifying questions are asked and all responses collected are anonymous.  We would appreciate if you could take a few minutes to provide information for your tractors.

You can also find this link by going to our website:

https://calpolycafes.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3w9nVHgJg7fjEyO

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me by email at chris@ccgga.org.

SWRCB Announces Public Workshop on Proposed Emergency Curtailment and Reporting Regulation for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Watershed

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) has announced a Public Workshop on Proposed Emergency Curtailment and Reporting Regulation for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Watershed and is scheduled for July 27, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The proposed emergency regulation would require water right holders in the Delta watershed to curtail their diversions when water is found by the State Water Board to be unavailable based on the best information available to the Board. The emergency regulation would also allow the Board to require that water right holders provide additional information related to their diversion and use of water.

SWRCB staff will also provide an overview of the recent updates to the Water Unavailability Methodology for the Delta Watershed, which is planned to be used to inform curtailment decisions as described in the draft regulation. The draft emergency regulation text and draft resolution will be made available on July 23, 2021.

The Association staff is closely monitoring this issue and will be reviewing the draft regulation once released. We will keep you updated.

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.