CARB visits Agricultural Operations to discuss proposed Zero-Emission Forklifts

This week, the Association coordinated and participated in a meeting with California Air Resources Board (CARB), SJV Air Pollution Control District, in conjunction with Western Agricultural Processors Association, Nisei Farmers League, Ag Council of California, California Citrus Mutual, California Fresh Fruit Association, California Strawberry Commission, California Strawberry Commission, California Farm Bureau Federation, Fresno County Farm Bureau, California Rice Commission and JM Equipment Company to discuss the potential regulatory concept Zero-Emission forklift Regulation.

The association’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, Priscilla Rodriguez and President & CEO Roger briefed the staff on the concerns surrounding the concept of zero-emission forklift. One major concern is the applicability of the rule. Staff explained the difference between an agricultural operation which operates seasonally and other business, like a distributing warehouse, that operate year around and has the ability to pass along costs. The areas discussed were applicability, costs, opposition to registration requirements, rough terrain forklift and incentive programs.

The meeting included two sites visits, to an almond processor and cotton gin. The onsite visits illustrated the true costs of converting forklift fleet to all electric, employee safety considerations when dealing with lead-acid batteries, the facility upgrades needed, the need for rough terrain forklifts at processing facilities and the importance of incentive funding.

The Association will continue the dialogue and work with CARB staff on this issue. The next workshop will be held February 2022

PUC Releases Draft Decision on NEM 3.0

December 13th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released a Proposed Decision on the next version of Net-Energy Metering.  The Association has been represented by the Ag Energy Consumers Association (AECA), who has been participating as a party to the proceeding.  While the decision is not final and there is still a possibility changes could be made, we thought it important to communicate some of the key changes to the program. It is important to note that this is only a Proposed Decision and residential customers groups are not happy. Intense lobbying will continue until the final vote.  Here are the highlights according to AECA:

  • Annual True Ups are Maintained: The Joint IOUs proposed to switch to a monthly true up, which would have been drastic for agricultural operations.  (This is huge!)
  • NEM Aggregation (NEMA) Maintained: The CPUC correctly identified that NEMA is important for agricultural operations.
  • Export Compensation Rate: the export compensation rate at averaged monthly values for each hour, differentiated between weekday and weekend.
  • Differences between residential and non-residential
    • Residential NEM customers receive “Market Transition Credit”
    • Residential also has to pay a “Grid Participation Charge” which non-residential does not.
  • Grandfathering: Non-residential NEM 2.0 customers will be grandfathered on the 2.0 program for 20 years.
  • Storage: PD offers all existing NEM 2.0 tariff customers an incentive for storage if they voluntarily switch to the successor tariff within four years from the time the storage rebate becomes available. If an existing NEM 2.0 tariff customer voluntarily switches to the successor tariff during the first year of implementation, they will receive a $0.20/Wh storage rebate, which will be available for a total of four years but decrease by 25 percent a year over the subsequent four years. Customers will be eligible for the storage rebate provided in the year they transition to the successor tariff.

How long to sign up for NEM 2.0? The NEM 2.0 tariff will close 120 days after the Final Decision. Final Decision is expected sometime in January.

House Passes Ocean Shipping Reform Act (HR 4996)

This past week the US House of Representatives passed HR 4996, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act.  This bill, authored by Congressman John Garamendi and Congressman Dusty Johnson, is intended to ensure carriers accept US cargo exports when they bring imports to the United States.   Ag exporters have been hammered by millions of dollars in excessive detention and demurrage fees, not to mention millions in lost sales due to the inability to get our products to the proper marketplace in a time manner.  Pushed by the Ag Transportation Coalition (AgTC) of which the Association is a member, it is hoped this legislation will reinvigorate ag exports, reign in the excessive charges that we have no control over, and establish more regulation over the shipping companies now controlling our destiny.  All California Congressional representatives but two voted in favor of the bill including all representatives in agricultural areas (Costa, Harder, LaMalfa, Panetta, McCarthy, Garamendi (author) and Valadao).  

California Reinstates Mask Mandate

This afternoon, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that California will be reinstating a statewide indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, from December 15, 2021 to January 15, 2022. This announcement comes in light of the state’s emergence of the Omicron variant, as well as the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, particularly in counties with low vaccination rates. The CDPH press release stated that “since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by almost half (47%) and hospitalizations have increased by 14%.”

Today’s announcement also comes with an updated travel advisory, which issued the following recommendations:

Furthermore, the state is now requiring that those attending a mega event without proof of vaccination must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within one day for an antigen test, and two days for a PCR test.

To view the latest from CDPH, click here. For any questions regarding the state’s response to COVID-19, please contact Rebecca Baskins at

2022 Cotton Incorporated Producer Tour Program Dates

The Cotton Board is happy to announce the 2022 Cotton Incorporated Producer Tour Program Dates! The Cotton Board Producer Tour Program has given thousands of cotton producers and industry partners the opportunity to see their Cotton Research and Promotion Program checkoff dollars at work inside Cotton Incorporated’s World Headquarters and Research Facility in Cary, North Carolina. This unique program allows attendees to spend a day listening to key Cotton Incorporated staff explain research and priority areas in their department, as well as visiting the innovative laboratories located inside the research facility. Producers are able to discuss major research and marketing programs that are essential to improve the future demand and profitability for U.S. cotton. During the tour, we will also have to time to learn from staff at a commercial spinning facility on their operation, sustainability in the supply chain, and how cotton producers can become more involved in the industry.
The Tour Dates for 2022 are:
• Multi-Region Tour: February 6-8
• Multi-Region Young Producer Tour: March 20-22
• Women in Ag Tour: June 12-14
Air travel, hotel stay, and meals are provided to each participant during the dates of the tour. All tours follow the same essential schedule.
If you are interested in attending a tour, please reach out to the Southwest Regional Communications Manager, Christi Short, at (469) 951-6161 or We can’t wait to show you Cotton Incorporated!

US EPA and Army Propose New WOTUS Rule

This past week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army (the agencies) announced a proposed rule to re-establish the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) which had been in place for decades, updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions. This action advances the agencies’ goal of establishing a durable definition of WOTUS that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities while supporting economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries that depend on clean water. This proposed rule would support a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with states, Tribes, local governments, and a broad array of stakeholders in both the implementation of WOTUS and future regulatory actions.

According to EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, “Through our engagement with stakeholders across the country, we’ve heard overwhelming calls for a durable definition of WOTUS that protects the environment and that is grounded in the experience of those who steward our waters. Today’s action advances our process toward a stronger rule that achieves our shared priorities.” EPA claims that recent court decisions have reinforced the need for a stable and certain definition of WOTUS. The U.S. District Courts for both Arizona and New Mexico have vacated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Considering the court actions, the agencies have been implementing the pre-2015 regulatory regime nationwide since early September 2021.

EPA claims that the proposed rule would solidify the rules of the road for a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with stakeholders to refine the definition of WOTUS in both implementation and future regulatory actions. EPA further states the proposed rule would maintain the longstanding exclusions of the pre-2015 regulations as well as the exemptions and exclusions in the Clean Water Act on which the agricultural community has come to rely. The agencies are taking comment on this proposed rule for 60 days beginning on the date it is published in the Federal Register. The Association is currently reviewing the proposed rule in preparation of making comments.

NRCS Announces Three Local Appointments

The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has announced three new leadership selections in the state. Allen Curry has been selected as the Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in Salinas covering the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Stanislaus. Johnnie Siliznoff has been selected as the Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations in Fresno covering the counties of Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Tulare, and Tuolumne.  Jon Gustafson is the new permanent State Resource Conservationist (SRC).  Jon will work with staff and partners to provide leadership over our agency conservation planning and technical standards.  Their assignments will be effective November 21, 2021.

The Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations is responsible for working closely with employees, customers, and partners to deliver conservation programs and technical assistance, oversee staff, deliver training, and communicate agency plans, progress, and goals. In addition, they will be working with you and the District Conservationists (DC), to strengthen Local Work Groups and focus on your most critical conservation needs.  They will be working with partners and the DCs to implement the California Strategic Plan which focuses on people and making progress on six key natural resource concerns, including soil health, plant vigor that includes forest health, air quality, water quality, water quantity, and enhancing habitat.

Allen Curry is currently the DC in Indio, CA.  He has worked in several field and area leadership positions in Mississippi (MS) and CA including Soil Scientist, local Soil Conservationist, and as an area Resource Soil Scientist. Curry is a native of Port Gibson, MS, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science from Alcorn State University.

Johnnie Siliznoff is currently the Acting DC in Fresno and previously the DC in Madera.  He has worked as the Central Valley Air Quality Specialist and has extensive experience serving in several technical and leadership positions in CA, the West National Technology Support Center, and National Headquarters. Johnnie is a graduate of California State University-Fresno with a degree in Agriculture Science and has a California Pest Control Advisors license.

Jon Gustafson is currently the State Rangeland Ecologist.  Jon started his career with NRCS in February 1998 as a rangeland management specialist at the field office in Petaluma California. Jon has spent most of his life in California, with his formative years in Orcutt and the past fifteen years in Davis. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Rangeland Resource Science from Humboldt State University


Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued on November 5, 2021 an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers (100 employees or more) from COVID-19.  Employers with 100 or more employees are now required to have a policy in place to either require all employees receive the COVID-19 vaccination or require weekly testing of all employees.  Employees must be vaccinated by January 4, 2022 or require unvaccinated employees to produce a negative test on at least a weekly basis. All employers must ensure their employees receive either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  Employees who do not receive the vaccination must provide a verified negative test on a weekly basis and wear a face mask while in the workplace.  All covered employees are to be provided paid time to receive vaccinations, and if needed, sick leave to recover from side effects.  Compliance dates: December 5, 2021 for vaccination shots and masking for unvaccinated employees; January 4, 2022 for weekly testing.  Additional Fed/OSHA COVID materials can be found here.  As we previously reported, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board is to address this issue at its next board meeting.
Update: As soon as this ETS was issued, the following day on November 6th the Federal Appeals Court has issued an order to “stay” or temporarily stop the ETS from taking effect.  The Association will closely monitor this issue.

Association President/CEO Isom Testifies on West Coast Port Crisis

A special hearing was held yesterday by the Joint Assembly and Senate Select Committees on Ports and Goods Movement at their special hearing today in Sacramento on the West Coast Port Crisis.  Association President/CEO Roger Isom was asked by the Committee to speak to the impact of the crisis on agriculture.  Additional panelists included representatives from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California Association of Port Authorities, California Retailers Association, California State Transportation Authority, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, BNSF, Teamsters and the ILWU.  Isom’s comments focused on quantifying the costs and impact to agricultural exports, and outlined the direct problems faced by the industry included rolled bookings and the cancellation of Shipping Lines coming to Oakland to take exports.  Isom stated “taking empties back to Asia, bypassing Oakland and leaving ag exports on the docks is clearly a trade issue…agriculture and our inability to get our exports out is simply collateral damage.  We need solutions and we need them yesterday.”  While the state of California has little jurisdiction on issues affecting the crisis, they can help with some of the short-term solutions to alleviate the logjam, including finding off-port storage and other potential solutions.

Cal/OSHA Proposed 2nd Readoption – COVID-19 ETS

One day prior to the October 21st Standards Board meeting, Cal/OSHA published proposed language for the second readoption of the COVID-19 ETS.  If approved at the December Standards Board meeting, the readoption would provide for the proposed regulation to be in place from January 14, 2022 through April 14, 2022.   Proposed updates include:

  • Screening: During screening, both vaccinated and unvaccinated employees are to wear face coverings
  • Testing: If COVID-19 case occurs in the workplace, testing for all non-symptomatic close contacts, including those who are vaccinated.
  • Close contacts: currently employees who have had close contact but are fully vaccinated and remain asymptomatic do not need to be excluded from the workplace.  Under the proposed – these employees must now wear a face covering in the workplace for 14 days, social distance for 14 days, and get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after the close contact.
  • Return to Work: The proposal revises if an employee returns to work before 14 days, they must wear a face covering and maintain social distancing until 14 days have passed.
  • Outbreaks: employers will be required to test all employees regardless of vaccination status.
  • Employer provided housing: housing ventilation must be maximized regardless of vaccination status.  All employee residents must be tested if there were 3 or more cases in their housing in a 14-day period; the quarantine policy to exclude asymptomatic vaccinated close contacts has been removed.
  • Employer provided vehicles: all employees must be provided and wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status.

WAPA will continue to monitor changes of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 regulations in the workplace and provide comments at the December Standards Board meeting.