NEWS & ISSUES

Face Coverings Available

California Agricultural Commissioners, through partnership with CDFA, are distributing face coverings (2-ply surgical masks) throughout the state to agricultural businesses within their counties. Approximately 500,000 2-ply surgical masks are in stock to distribute to agricultural businesses free of charge. Contact your local county agricultural commissioner to schedule a pickup time to receive these face coverings for your business. (Note: these are not N-95 filtering facepieces.)

COVID-19 Update

As the state gets back to work and retail stores and restaurants start opening up, it is important to remain diligent on preventing the spread of COVID-19.  All facilities should be checking all workers as they begin their shifts, and facilities must have COVID-19 prevention procedures in place.  Social distancing, proper and frequent hand washing, and proper sanitation must be in place and verified they are occurring daily.  We also strongly encourage our members to implement COVID-19 plans that include these procedures.  Cal/OSHA has released guidance and checklists for Agriculture and Livestock, and for Food Packing and Processing.  This new guidance is intended to support a safe, clean environment for workers in these areas.  The update now mandates a “written worksite specific plan” for these operations to protect workers.  Included in the guidance is information on what is required in the written plan, training topics, individual control measures, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and physical distancing guidelines.  To assist our members in this area, staff has been helping write facility specific plans and helping implement these plans.  We urge our members to adopt a plan and put it in motion if they haven’t already.

Cotton Industry Mourns the Passing of Tom Sprayberry

Longtime Calcot grower representative Tom Sprayberry passed away peacefully on June 8, in his hometown of Bakersfield.  Tom was born in Bakersfield, California to Odis and Laura Sprayberry.  He attended East High School, Bakersfield College and Fresno State. In 1951 he enlisted in the US Coast Guard where he served for three years.  After completing his service with the Coast Guard, he joined the Southern Pacific Railroad as a timekeeper and clerk.  During this time he was introduced to a lovely nurse name Joyce Wetzel and married her in 1963.  At that same time he left the railroad to work for Calcot in grower records before becoming a field representative.  He was a field representative for Calcot until his retirement in 1996.  He was heavily involved in the community.  He was President of the Bakersfield Breakfast Lions Club, and also served on the Bakersfield College Alumni Association where he held the office of President on two separate occasions.  Tom was preceded in death by his wife Joyce in June 2019, and survived by his daughter Robbin Smith (Jack), grandchildren Kate and Ben Hamilton of Bakersfield, daughter Jill Newbrough (Mark), grandchildren Lauren Montijo, Andi, and Raef Newbrough all of Great Falls, MT.  Tom will be buried at the Bakersfield National Cemetery where a private service will be held for family only due to COVID-19 restrictions.  A gathering will be held next year at the Woolgrowers to celebrate his life.  Memorial gifts may be directed to Bakersfield Breakfast Lions at P.O. Box 1349, Bakersfield, CA  93302 or the Bakersfield College Alumni Association at 1801 Panorama Drive, Bakersfield, CA  93305.

New Nighttime Lighting Requirements Go Into Effect for Agriculture on July 1st

Well, it is now official.  The new Cal/OSHA regulation specifying lighting requirements for operation of agricultural equipment at night goes into effect on July 1st.  These new requirements aren’t as intrusive as originally proposed thanks to the involvement of the Association, but they are still imposing.  The new requirements include the following highlights, when working between sunset and sunrise:

  • All tractors, trucks and harvest equipment must have a light at the front of the equipment and one rear light to illuminate equipment
  • Lighting must be provided at the following illumination levels:

o Meeting and meal/rest areas – 3 foot-candles
o Around agricultural operations, pathways
leading to and around bathrooms and drinking
water stations, inside bathrooms and storage
areas – 5 foot-candles
o Intermittently exposed points of operation or
moving parts of machinery, or using tools that
can potentially cause cuts, lacerations or
punctures – 10 foot-candles
o Performing maintenance work on equipment –
20 foot-candles
o Note: the illumination levels can be provided by
the use of one or more light sources including
hands free portable lighting (e.g. headlamp),
equipment mounted lighting, or other sources

  • At the beginning of every shift, a safety meeting must be held to inform employees of location of restrooms, drinking water, break areas, bodies of water and high traffic areas
  • Employers must provide, and require workers to wear, high visibility garments

For questions or should you need additional information, please contact our office.

Association Partners with Zenith to Conduct COVID-19 Webinars

The Association is partnering with our longtime collaborator the Zenith to conduct two (2) webinars on “Navigating Through COVID-19 – Reducing Risk in the Workplace”.  As employers deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, having the proper guidance, information, and resources are vital to protecting their business and the health of their employees.  By participating, you can join the Zenith team of Medical and Safety & Health experts as they discuss important COVID-19 related employee health issues and infection prevention practices.

Attendees will learn about:

  • Zenith COVID-19 Resources
  • Routes of transmission
  • Employee health monitoring
  • Employee and workplace hygiene
  • Social (Physical) distancing
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Visitors and non-employee interaction
The presenters will be from the Zenith and will include Dr. Jill Rosenthal, MD, MPH, MA, FACOEM, Sr. Vice President, Chief Medical Officer; Jan Rhodes, CIH, CSP, Assistant Vice President, Occupational Health; and Vanessa Galvan, CSP, AFIS Agriculture Program Safety & Health Manager.  The webinars will be held on June 11th at 10:00 am and June 15th at 9:00 am.   You can register for these webinars by clicking on the preferred date listed on the attached flier.

This webinar is offered complimentary at no charge in partnership with Western Agricultural Processors Association and California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association and Zenith Insurance.

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.

USDA Announces Details of Direct Assistance to Farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforces have been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat and deliver boxes to Americans in need.  Beginning May 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses.  Farmers and ranchers will receive direct support, drawn from two possible funding sources. The first source of funding is $9.5 billion in appropriated funding provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act to compensate farmers for losses due to price declines that occurred between mid-January 2020, and mid-April 2020 and provides support for specialty crops for product that had been shipped from the farm between the same time period but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channels. The second funding source uses the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to compensate producers for $6.5 billion in losses due to on-going market disruptions.   Non-specialty crops eligible for CFAP payments include malting barley, canola, corn, upland cotton, millet, oats, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers, durum wheat, and hard red spring wheat. Wool is also eligible. Producers will be paid based on inventory subject to price risk held as of January 15, 2020. A payment will be made based 50 percent of a producer’s 2019 total production or the 2019 inventory as of January 15, 2020, whichever is smaller, multiplied by the commodity’s applicable payment rates.

Specialty Crops
For eligible specialty crops, the total payment will be based on the volume of production sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020; the volume of production shipped, but unpaid; and the number of acres for which harvested production did not leave the farm or mature product destroyed or not harvested during that same time period, and which have not and will not be sold. Specialty crops include, but are not limited to, almonds, beans, broccoli, sweet corn, lemons, iceberg lettuce, spinach, squash, strawberries and tomatoes. A full list of eligible crops can be found on farmers.gov/cfap. Additional crops may be deemed eligible at a later date.

Eligibility
There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies or limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits where members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance
Producers can apply for assistance beginning on May 26, 2020. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.

Payment Structure
To ensure the availability of funding throughout the application period, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date as funds remain available.

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.

FMSCA Releases Revised HOS Regulations

This past week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) revised the hours of service (HOS) regulations to provide greater flexibility for drivers subject to those rules. In the final rule, the FMSCA made four significant changes:

• The on-duty limits for short-haul operations will increase from 12 to 14 hours and from 100 air-miles to 150.
• The adverse driving provision will extend the driving window two hours if the driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
• Now requires a 30-minute break after 8 hours of driving time (instead of on-duty time) and allows an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break
• The 30-minute break provision will be modified to require the break after eight hours of consecutive driving time (instead of on-duty time) and allows an on-duty/not driving period to qualify as the required break.

“These new common sense rules will give truckers more options for planning their days,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said. “They will help drivers reach their destination safely without feeling like they have to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates. They also will help truckers get the rest they need when they need it. When safety rules make sense, drivers are better able to comply and that benefits everyone.”   The final rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register this week, the agency said. The rule will go into effect 120 days after it is published to allow ELD manufacturers to implement programming changes. Depending on when the rule is published, the changes could go into effect as soon as Sept. 15.

You Did (Or Didn’t) Get a PPP Loan – Now What?

The accounting firm of Moss Adams is hosting a webcast on Thursday, May 21st, at 2:00 pm on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).   This webcast will provide insight into PPP loans for organizations that both DID and DID NOT receive funds. We’ll provide an overview of cash relief options available as well as alternative financing options you may want to explore. Additionally, we’ll touch on special considerations for employee benefits related to sick leave and family leave. More specifically, we’ll cover the following:

• Determining and maximizing PPP loan forgiveness, including what expenditures “count”, applicable period, and employee considerations
• Minimizing and deferring expenses, whether you received a PPP loan or not, including major financing options post-CARES Act
• Tax credits
• Families First Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave Act issues
• Raising additional funds during the pandemic
• Other business considerations for cash relief
• Come prepared with questions as there will be plenty of time for Q&A.

Presenters

Eric Krienert, Partner – Moss Adams
Eric is director of Agribusiness Programs at Moss Adams. He has worked in public accounting since 1997. He is experienced in tax planning and consulting for large partnerships and corporations in the food and agriculture industries, specializing in cooperatives. He provides services related to patronage philosophy and formulating patronage allocation programs based on book, tax, and hybrid programs; equity planning; mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and other combinations; nonqualified equities; and domestic manufacturing deduction and taxation.

K-Deep Dhaliwal, Partner – Moss Adams
K-Deep has provided auditing and consulting services to food processing and agriculture companies since 2005 and is the regional industry group leader for the firm’s agribusiness practice. His focus includes agricultural marketing and supply cooperatives; food processors and marketers; manufacturing and distribution; citrus growers; row crops and permanent crops; vineyard operations; fresh fruit packing and marketing; and wine production and distribution.  He is the past president of theNational Society of Accountants for Cooperatives (NSAC) Far Western Chapter.

Ashley Jacobsen, Senior Manager – Moss Adams
Ashley has practiced public accounting since 2003. She leads audits for privately held, middle market companies in the manufacturing, food processing, and agribusiness industries. She works with her clients to address their key business issues and provides best practices for financial reporting, corporate governance, and industry trends.

To register for this important webinar, please use the following link:

Registration link: https://mossadamsllp.webex.com/mossadamsllp/j.php?RGID=r56b60cd2bea6f430dc309dd1d03270cf

Looking for Face Masks?

Are you need of general protection face masks?  How about masks made from Supima Cotton?  MRO Supply out of Los Angeles is selling masks made from Supima cotton for $5 each plus tax and shipping.  They are manufactured by a company out of Los Angeles, so it is California Grown and American Made! Here is the link to the company’s website for the mask:
https://www.mrosupply.com/safety/personal-protective-equipment/respiratory-protection/5909596_supima-mask-white_mro-supply/

Please note:  These are NOT N-95 masks.