NEWS & ISSUES

2024-2025 Emerging Leaders Program Class Announced – Californian Named

Twelve U.S. cotton industry members have been chosen to participate in the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) Emerging Leaders Program for 2024-25.  Participants include: PRODUCERS – Clint Dunn, Itta Bena, MS; Lambert Marshall, Scott, AR; Greg Riccomini, Bakersfield, CA; Todd Rovey, Buckeye, AZ; Greg Sikes, Brooklet, GA; and Jack Whatley, Odem, TX; GINNERS – Nathan Goldman, Casa Grande, AZ; Daniel Luehrs, Odem, TX; MERCHANTS – Brett Edgy, Savannah, GA; Jacinta Condon, Greenville, SC; WAREHOUSER – Chris Moore, Southaven, MS, and MARKETING COOPERATIVE – Zach Flowers, Clarksdale, MS.

Now in its ninth year, the NCC’s Emerging Leaders Program is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from Bayer.  NCC Chairman Joe Nicosia, a Cordova, TN merchant, said, “We are grateful for Bayer’s ongoing support of the Emerging Leaders Program. U.S. cotton needs dedicated leaders who are committed to helping our industry maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. This initiative is helping to identify men and women who have demonstrated the potential for taking on this important challenge and then encouraging and equipping them for this important task.”   Overall, the Emerging Leaders Program provides participants with a better understanding of how the NCC carries out its mission of ensuring the U.S. cotton industry’s seven segments can compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.  Specifically, participants get an in-depth look at: 1) the U.S. cotton industry infrastructure and the issues affecting the industry’s economic well-being; 2) the U.S. political process; 3) the NCC’s programs as well as its policy development and implementation process and 4) Cotton Council International’s activities aimed at developing and maintaining export markets for U.S. cotton, manufactured cotton products and cottonseed products.  The Emerging Leaders Program also provides participants with professional development and communications training such as presentation and business etiquette, instruction for engaging with the news media, and utilizing social media tools and tactics.   Class members will participate in three sessions.  The first session, set for the week of June 16, 2024, in Memphis and St. Louis, will provide an orientation to the NCC, professional development and communication skills training and an agribusiness briefing. During the second session, class members will see policy development at the NCC’s 2025 Annual Meeting in February.  The third session, to be conducted later in 2025 in Washington, DC, will provide a focus on policy implementation.

Association Recognizes Past Chairman Tom Gaffney

At the 2024 Annual Meeting of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, Association President/CEO Roger A. Isom posthumously recognized former CCGGA Chairman Tom Gaffney, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year in February.  Tom was born in 1966 in Seoul, South Korea. Tom grew up primarily in Linden, New Jersey. He graduated from Admiral Farragut Academy in Pines Beach, New Jersey in 1984.  Tom attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated in 1988 with a degree in electrical engineering. Tom was a Navy veteran who served from 1984 to 1995.  After his discharge from the Navy, he worked for PepsiCo in Salt Lake City, Utah for 2 years. He moved to the Central Valley and worked for the J.G. Boswell Company and lived in Hanford from September 1997 till his passing.  According to those who worked with him at the J.G. Boswell Company, Tom will be remembered for his strong work ethic, indomitable spirit, and his hidden warmness.  He was known to take care of his employees and his hidden kindness was displayed in his treatment of stray cats throughout the J. G. Boswell Company gins. He loved to read, travel, and watch baseball.  His office is filled with the many books he read, mementos and pictures from his travels, and his collection of baseball memorabilia.  Late in his life he developed an interest in whiskey and began to drink and collect various whiskeys from around the world.  Most of us did not know all of that because Tom was pretty quiet.  That is until he had something to say.  President/CEO Isom commented “I remember being in Colorado Springs at a USDA ARS Research Meeting when he was in his element and he spoke like I never heard him speak again.  And it was the same thing for the board until he became Chair.  He would call me and ask questions, express his frustrations, give me advice.  He was a different guy.  But most importantly, he stepped up every single time I asked him to.  Whether it was the research meeting in Colorado, lobby days in Sacramento or helping out with Ginners School, Tom was there each and every day.  With Tom, it was never a Boswell thing.  It was always about the cotton industry.  And for that I am forever grateful.  No matter the call, Tom answered…and that my friends is the reason behind the Distinguished Service Award.  And while he may not be here today in person to receive this industry’s highest honor, we all know he is here in spirit.“  The Association then recognized Thomas Gaffney with a very special Distinguished Service Award to be given to his family. 

Association Recognizes George Soares

This past week at the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association’s 2024 Annual Meeting,  the Association presented George Soares with its Distinguished Service Award.  The highly prestigious award isn’t given every year but was long overdue for the man who has been the Association’s lobbying firm and general legal counsel since 1980.  On hand to make the presentation was former  Association President/CEO Earl P. Williams who guided the Association for 20 years from 1992 to 2012.  Prior to his leadership as President/CEO Earl was on the board that initially hired George to represent the Association in Sacramento.  At the meeting Earl highlighted many of the successes that George helped guide the Association through including the tractor tax exemption, changes to the one variety law, and challenges with Cal/OSHA that initiated the formation of the Ginners Association.  Earl closed his remarks with these words “This year’s Nominee is the best in this field. He has been a dear personal friend, a trusted mentor, an advisor, and just what these Associations needed from the beginning and remains so important today!  The man from Harmony,  a man that brings good sense and sound judgment and “harmony” to all he does! Never a raised voice, never a bad word! Always prepared!”  The Association congratulates Mr. George Soares as this year’s Distinguished Service Award honoree. 

Fresno County Grower Gary Martin Named New CCGGA Chairman

At its 2024 Annual meeting, the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA) announced its new Chair of the Board of Directors, Gary Martin, a grower in the Firebaugh/Mendota area of western Fresno County.  Martin will replace outgoing Chairman Matt Toste after completing his two-year term.  The Association also used the event to announce all of its officers, as follows:

Chair – Gary Martin

1st Vice Chair – Adriane Carbonel

2nd Vice Chair – Jake Cauzza

Secretary/Treasurer – Wade Van Hooser

New Chair Martin thanked outgoing Chair Toste for his service and time spent at the helm of the board over a tough two years. 

Another Successful Annual Meeting for CCGGA in in the Books!

This week, the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association hosted its 2024 Annual Meeting at the International Agri Center in Tulare, California.  More than 120 participants attended the informative meeting with speakers covering a multitude of important issues.  The morning began with the financial report from the Association’s auditing firm Spafford and Landry.  Then the group broke into two sections: ginners and growers.  The ginners were provided with updates from the National Cotton Ginners Association and its activities by current NCGA President Richard Lindsay, the USDA ARS Southwest Cotton Ginning Laboratory and the research they are conducting by Research Leader Dr. Derek Whitelock, and finally a presentation on cottonseed by Dr. Evy Jaconis, of Cotton, Inc.  Meanwhile the growers were briefed on the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint by Blueprint Vice Chairman Geoffrey Vanden Huevel of the California Milk Producers Council  Then they were presented with a discussion on Regenerative Agriculture by Dr. Cindy Daley, head of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture at CSU Chico.  Then both groups came back together to receive an update on Sacramento issues by George Soares of Kahn, Soares and Conway.  Later the Association staff led by Assistant Vice President Priscilla Rodriguez, Director of Technical Services Christopher McGlothlin, and President/CEO Roger Isom provided an overview of the important issues the Association is tackling.  At the meeting incoming Chairman Gary Martin presented outgoing Chairman Matt Toste with a plaque and gavel recognizing him for his two years of tremendous service.  Following lunch, the Association recognized George Soares with it Distinguished Service Award presented by former CCGGA President/CEO Earl P. Williams.  Finally, the Association’s President/CEO posthumously recognized former CCGGA Chairman Tom Gaffney who passed away unexpectedly this past February.  He was recognized with a special Distinguished Service Award for his efforts and contributions to the cotton industry and the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association.

Historic 2023 Water Year Boosts California’s Groundwater Supplies

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released the latest Semi-Annual Groundwater Conditions report, and the data show that California achieved 4.1 million acre-feet of managed groundwater recharge during Water Year 2023. The report also details an increase in groundwater storage of 8.7 million acre-feet. This is the first year since 2019 that there has been a reported increase in groundwater storage. A significant reduction in groundwater pumping in 2023 also led to favorable groundwater conditions, including a decrease in land subsidence, or sinking of the land. Some areas that had previously experienced subsidence actually saw a rebound (uplift) in ground surface elevation from reduced pumping in the deeper aquifers and refilling of groundwater storage. This latest report includes, for the first time, groundwater sustainability plan Annual Report data reported by local groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) across 99 groundwater basins which make up over 90 percent of the groundwater use in the State. Paul Gosselin, DWR Deputy Director of Sustainable Water Management stated, “The impressive recharge numbers in 2023 are the result of hard work by the local agencies combined with dedicated efforts from the state, but we must do more to be prepared to capture and store water when the wet years come.”  During the 2023 Water Year, more than 1.2 million acre-feet of groundwater recharge was permitted by state agencies, more than 400,000 acre-feet of flood water was recharged using the Governor’s Executive Orders, and millions more acre-feet of managed and naturally occurring recharge was achieved.

Association Leadership Ascends Upon the Capitol

Leadership and Staff from the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA) and the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) spent two days in Sacramento last week to address critical concerns on legislation and regulations. The Associations met with Senator Toni Atkins, Assemblyman Greg Wallis, Assemblyman James Gallagher, Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, Assemblyman Heath Flora, Senator Richard Roth, Assemblywoman Jasmeet Bains, Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria, and Assemblyman Juan Alanis.  The group also met with staff from Senator Josh Becker, Senator Anna Caballero, Senator Lena Gonzalez, Senator Angelique Ashby, Assemblyman Josh Hoover, Senator Shannon Grove, Senator Roger Niello, Assemblyman Josh Lowenthal and Assemblywoman Lori Wilson. Several issues were discussed included AB 1963, the bill to ban paraquat; AB 2522, the bill to severely limit FGARs, Ag Burning, Sulfoxaflor (Transform) for lygus control on cotton, CDPR’s budget increase request, ZEV truck and forklift rules, electricity rates and infrastructure deficiencies, SWRCB fees, and FARMER funding.  If those 18 meetings were not enough the second day was spent on regulatory issues meeting with the Governor’s Office, California Air Resources Board (CARB), California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture CDFA). Topics covered included pesticide bans and CDPR’s budget requests, ZEV truck and forklift regulations, electricity rates and infrastructure, and invasive pests such as cottonseed bug, carpophilus beetle, and fruit flies. The group also met with Assembly candidates David Tangipa and Ali Macedo. The Association Staff including President/CEO Roger Isom, Assistant Vice President Priscilla Rodrigues, and Director of Technical Services Christopher McGlothlin were also present and participating.

Association Hosts Senator Deb Fischer from Nebraska

This past week, the Western Agricultural Processors Association, the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association and the American Pistachio Growers co-hosted an event for United States Senator Deb Fischer from Nebraska. Senator Fischer sits on the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees, as well as Nutrition and Forestry, Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Armed Services Committees. She is also a ranking member on the Rules and Administration Committee.  Also attending the event were individuals from the Nisei Farmers League, California Citrus Mutual, California Blueberry Association, Olive Growers Council of California, National Cotton Council as well as several individual farmers and growers.

Association Testifies at Critical PM2.5 Workshop

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District held a workshop Monday to present their “revised Plan for the 2012 Annual PM2.5 Standard”. The plan contains air pollution control measures and has been revised to address EPA’s concerns.  Originally slated to be in attainment for the 2012 standard by 2025, the new plan proposes 2030 to achieve the standard. To date the District has made huge strides in reducing PM2.5 concentrations and only 5 monitoring stations remain in the valley showing levels about the 12 ug/m3 standard for PM2.5. Unfortunately, to be in attainment, all stations must show levels below 12 ug/m3. The proposed plan focuses on residential wood burning, open areas and mobile source control measures. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the SJVAPCD are also looking at additional measures to ensure attainment including looking at additional Conservation Management Practices (CMPs), low dust nut harvesting equipment and the FARMER program, which is the incentive program that helps farmers purchase cleaner burning tractors and harvesters.  Association President/CEO Roger Isom testified at the hearing urging the district to base all regulatory decisions on science-based measurements, and to continue to fund and utilize existing incentive programs like FARMER that have provided effective proven emission reductions while assisting farmers.

Bureau Increases Water Allocations – Slightly

The Bureau of Reclamation announced another increase in the Central Valley Project 2024 water supply allocation for south-of-Delta contractors and those in the Friant Division. While all north-of-Delta CVP contractors are currently at 100% of their supplies, south-of-Delta agricultural contractors are being increased from 35% to 40%. Last week, on April 18, the Friant Division Class 1 allocation was increased from 95% to 100% and the Class 2 allocation increased from 0% to 5%.  “Hydrologic conditions have improved enough that we are able to provide this gradual increase,” said California-Great Basin Regional Director Karl Stock.  “We realize that our contractors were hoping to see a greater amount of water, and we understand how critical irrigation is to California agriculture and the surrounding communities. However, continued uncertainty in long-term hydrology and regulatory constraints necessitate Reclamation’s approach with available water supplies.”

According to the Bureau, as the water year progresses, changes in hydrology, actions that impact operations, and opportunities to deliver additional water will influence future allocations.   In response, Association President/CEO Roger Isom commented “While we appreciate any increase in the allocation, in many ways this is too little, too late.  Planting decisions are done.  Given the current reservoir conditions throughout the state as well as the snowpack, we are disappointed with the minimal allocation.  The regulatory restrictions in the delta are truly hurting the valley and every single person that lives here.  Less water means less farming, which means less jobs.”