NEWS & ISSUES

Free 1 Hour Labor Law Webinars

California Cotton Ginners & Growers Association and Western Agricultural Processors Association are scheduling labor law webinars for members beginning March 10, 2022.

Presented by Fisher & Phillips, the webinars will review employer requirements and answer questions. These 1-hour webinars are free to CCGGA & WAPA members and will take place via Zoom, registration required to receive Zoom logistics prior to the session(s).

Cost:
Members – FREE
Non-members – $25.00

Registration details:

Visit our events page www.wapa-events.comselect Labor Law Webinars or contact our offices (559) 455-9272

Zoom link will be emailed prior to the session(s)

ASABE adds Round Cotton Module Cover Testing to Performance Standard

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has completed ASABE S615.2, Cotton Module Cover Material Performance.  The document is a major revision of S615.1 that adds performance specifications for module covers used on cylindrical modules, which are now the predominant seed-cotton storage method in the US.  Module covers are used to protect the cotton following harvest until it reaches the gin. The ASABE standard provides the physical test requirements for material used to manufacture these covers, which are exposed to environmental conditions, such as wind, rain, and ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) and storage degradation.   ASABE is recognized worldwide as a standards developing organization for food, agricultural, and biological systems, with more than 280 standards currently in publication. Conformance to ASABE standards is voluntary, except where required by state, provincial, or other governmental requirements, and the documents are developed by consensus in accordance with procedures approved by the American National Standards Institute. For information on this or any other ASABE standard, contact Scott Cedarquist at 269-932-7031, cedarq@asabe.org.

Association’s Priscilla Rodriguez Completes Prestigious Ag Leadership Program

A journey began on October 10th, 2019 that lasted for more than 27 months, and finally came to a conclusion for the Association’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, Priscilla Rodriguez, on February 5, 2022.  This journey covered a span of more than 27 months, and included meetings that covered more than 125 days, not including travel and study time.  It included trips to Atlanta, GA, and Washington, DC, as well as Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.  Rodriguez was one of 24 members of the historic Class 50 of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation program who completed their program where it began at California State University – Fresno on February 5th.   Disrupted by the Covid Pandemic, but not deterred, Class 50 weathered the storm to complete their program this past month.  Rodriguez had the distinct honor addressing the commencement for Class 50 by giving the opening speech.  In her comments, she began by stating “We started this program as strangers, quickly became friends and ultimately family.  The bonds and friendships created through the program will continue on for years to come.  We may all have different stories, but one thing is true for all of us.  This program made a lasting impact through the books we read, people we met and the unforgettable experiences we lived.”  She ended her opening remarks by encouraging her classmates “As we move forward in our lives, I challenge us to continue to be open minded, inquisitive, empathetic, passionate, resilient, and grateful, and leave your impact on your families, communities, ag industry, and the world.”   Truly words to live by, not just for her colleagues, but for all of us.  Association President/CEO Roger Isom remarked after the event, “Priscilla was made for the CALF program and the CALF program was made for her.  The Association is incredibly proud of her for this accomplishment and her speech is indicative of her growth, and just the type of leader she has started to become.  The Association and the agricultural industry are lucky to have her.”

Revised Indoor Mask Mandate

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued on February 25, 2022 updated guidance related to face coverings based on the latest data on COVID-19, and on February 28, 2022 California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued updated guidance on face coverings to align with the most current CDC guidance.  Effective March 1, 2022 CDPH face coverings guidance no longer requires individuals to wear face coverings indoors, except in limited settings where face coverings remain required, and now strongly recommends that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, continue indoor masking.  In addition, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order with respect to the second readoption of the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) by extending it an additional 21 days to allow the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) additional time to finalize the third readoption of the ETS to align with current public health guidelines and recommendations. This is what we know for now and we will continue to review and monitor the COVID guidance from CDPH as well as the Cal/OSHA ETS.

Federal Maritime Commission Announces Effort to Address Detention and Demurrage Fees

An Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was recently approved by the Federal Maritime Commission asking if a new rule governing demurrage and detention billing practices would benefit the trade and should apply to marine terminal operators and non-vessel operating common carriers in addition to vessel-operating common carriers.  Specifically, the Commission is considering the merits of establishing regulations mandating certain minimum information be included in bills issued for demurrage and detention charges and prescribing the maximum period in which an invoice can be sent.  Additionally, the Commission is seeking industry views on whether it should regulate the demurrage and detention billing practices of common carriers and marine terminal operators. The ANPRM broadly defines the terms “demurrage and detention” to include any charges assessed by common carriers and marine terminal operators related to the use of marine terminal space or shipping containers, regardless of the labels given to those charges.  The ANPRM is being issued in response to information developed by Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye as part of her work leading Fact Finding 29. In July 2021, she identified issuing an ANPRM on these topics as one of the Interim Recommendations provided to the Commission on how the agency can address complaints and issues related to demurrage and detention.  The Commission is requesting comments on what specific information should be required on demurrage and detention bills. It is interested in learning what information is necessary to identify a shipment, and whether bills for demurrage and detention should include information on how the charges are calculated and what circumstances justify stopping the clock on charges. Finally, the Commission is soliciting guidance on how to ensure a bill is being issued to the correct party and whether an explanation of the source and reason for the charge should be required.  If you have comments or suggestions, please forward them to the Association.

 

EPA Approves PM 2.5 Standard Revisions, Finds Valley in Attainment

This week, the U.S. Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the final rule approval for the 1997 24-hour PM2.5 standards as established under the Clean Air Act.  With this rule approval designation, U.S. EPA also found that the San Joaquin Valley is in attainment with the 1997 24-hour standard.  The standard requires that PM2.5 readings maintain below 65 micrograms/m3 in a 24-hour span.  The 1997 standard is one of four major standards under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) that the Air District must be in attainment with, or be implementing rules to help achieve attainment by specific dates.  The Air District originally failed to meet the December 2015 deadline for attainment designation as previously established, and was forced to develop more stringent rules in order to achieve the secondary attainment deadline of December of 2020.  Several Air District rules targeting agriculture were developed as a result of this standard, and the standard’s reassessment.  With help from the Association, and many other agricultural associations, rules against the industry were limited to only the ones that could achieve the most emissions reductions.  This is a significant achievement for the local Air District, and also further highlights the reductions achieved by voluntary and incentive based agricultural programs in the Valley.

EPA Announces Endangered Species Act Protection Policy for New Pesticides

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking action to further the Agency’s compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when evaluating and registering new pesticide active ingredients (AIs).  Before EPA registers any new conventional AI, the Agency will evaluate the potential effects of the AI on federally threatened or endangered (listed) species, and their designated critical habitats, and initiate ESA consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services).  Prior to this action, there was a litany of resource-intensive litigation against EPA for registering new AIs prior to assessing potential effects on listed species. EPA’s new policy should reduce these types of cases against the Agency and improve the legal defensibility of new AIs, which often have lower human health and ecological risks than older pesticides.  Under this new approach, if EPA finds through its analyses that a new conventional pesticide AI is likely to adversely affect listed species or their designated critical habitats, EPA will initiate formal consultation with the Services before granting a new AI registration. As part of its analysis and under its existing authorities, EPA will consider the likelihood that the registration action may jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify their designated critical habitat and provide its findings to the Services. To determine or predict the potential effects of a pesticide on these species and habitats, EPA will use appropriate ecological assessment principles and apply what it has learned from past effects determinations and the Services’ biological opinions.  If EPA determines that jeopardy or adverse modification is likely, the Agency will only make a registration decision on the new AI after requiring registrants to implement mitigation measures that EPA determines would likely prevent jeopardy or adverse modification. If EPA finds that a new AI is likely to adversely affect listed species or their critical habitat, but that jeopardy/adverse modification is not likely, it may nonetheless require registrants to include mitigation measures on their registration and product labeling to minimize the effects of incidental take to listed species that could result from use of a pesticide.

New Hazardous Waste Environmental Fee Goes into Effect

Beginning this month, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration made changes to their 2022 hazardous waste environmental fee rates.  In doing so, they helped small operations with less than 100 employees, but severely penalized those with 500 or more employees.  Currently, organizations operating in California with 50 or more employees who are each employed more than 500 hours in California during the prior calendar year, must file and pay the environmental fee.  Starting January 1, 2022, the employee threshold will increase from 50 employees to 100 employees.  The new rates will be paid beginning with the company’s 2022 filing due on February 28, 2023.  For this year’s filing, due February 28, 2022, the rates remain in place.  Here is the new schedule as compared to the current schedule:

Number of Employees 2021 2022
1 to 49 $0 $0
50 to 74 $357 $0
75 to 99 $627 $0
100 to 249 $1,244 $1,261
250 to 499 $2,669 $2,706
500 to 999 $4,985 $16,000
1000 or more $16,911 $54,100

 

According to the State, the fee is collected on behalf of the Department of Toxic Substances Control and supports protection of California’s communities and the environment.  The fees are accessed to almost organizations, because they use, generate, store, or conduct activities in the state related to hazardous materials (activities related to hazardous materials include the use of products such as paper, ink, plastics, paint, etc., which were manufactured using hazardous materials).

Biden Administration Appoints Blong Xiong as New State FSA Director

The Biden Administration recently appointed Blong Xiong as the new State Executive Director (SED) for the USDA California Farm Service Agency (FSA). Prior to his appointment, as the Executive Director for Asian Business Institute & Resource Center (ABIRC), and with over 20 years of community service, Xiong works with the Board to carry out the vision and mission of ABIRC to serve the small Southeast Asian farmers and small Asian businesses in the Central Valley. Prior to being the Executive Director for ABIRC, Xiong served two terms as a Council Member for the City of Fresno from 2007-2014, where he was the first elected Hmong Council Member in the State of California and the first Asian Council Member in the City.  He has also served as Deputy Director for The Fresno Center, a nonprofit organization that assists immigrants, refugees, and New Americans. Xiong holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Marian College of Fond du Lac and a master’s degree in Business Administration from National University.   As SED, Xiong will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of FSA programs to agricultural producers in California.  These commodity, conservation, credit, and disaster assistance programs ensure a safe, affordable, abundant, and nutritious food, fiber, and fuel supply for consumers.

Cal/OSHA Updated ETS Standards

The Cal/OSHA Consultation is offering free webinars on the revisions to the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).  These revisions we updated again and became effective on January 14, 2022.  The free 2-hour webinar will cover the changes to the ETS and provide resources.

Click on the link below to the webinar for registration or visit https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/webinars.html

Date Time Topic Language Zoom Link
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 9:00AM – 11:00AM COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) January 14, 2022 Update English Register for February 1
Thursday, February 3, 2022 9:00AM – 11:00AM COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) January 14, 2022 Update English Register for February 3
Wednesday, February 9,2022 1:00PM – 3:00PM COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) January 14, 2022 Update English Register for February 9