NEWS & ISSUES

Limited No-Cost N-95 Masks Available to Agricultural Businesses

Through combined efforts by the Agricultural Industry, DPR, CDFA, and County Agricultural Commissioners (CAC), the CAC’s will be distributing a limited supply of no-cost N-95 masks throughout the state to agricultural businesses within their counties. The shipment of the N-95 masks should happen in the next 1 to 3 weeks. The limited supply of N-95 masks will be at no cost to you. Contact your local county agricultural commissioner to schedule a pickup time to receive these N-95 masks for your business.

COVID-19 Management Resources

The Association has developed a COVID-19 management resources list of companies that provide services on cleaning and decontamination of facilities and local county testing sites. For mobile onsite testing for COVID-19, consult with your local health department or industrial medical provider. The information provided is advisory in nature and intended to assist our members in providing a safe and healthy workplace. We encourage you to check with your local health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional guidance and recommendations on cleaning and disinfecting your facility and testing recommendations. Click here.

Cotton Facts Sheets for Children in the Classroom & at Home

Now that children are home it’s a great opportunity for them to learn more about Cotton and other ag commodities. The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth throughout California about the importance of agriculture in their daily lives. Their mission is to increase awareness and understanding of agriculture among California’s educators and students. They do so through the following:

• Developing materials that are accurate, teacher-tested and scientifically sound to enhance the educational experience of K-12 students.
• Providing programs, inspiration and training opportunities for educators.
• Partnering with like-minded organizations to create awareness about the significance of agriculture in our everyday lives.
• Recognizing teachers and students for their achievements in agricultural literacy.
• Supporting the pursuit of agricultural careers and continuing education.

Fact sheets are one of their most popular resources and are designed to be easily printed and copied for teachers to use in their classrooms. The back of the Fact Sheet includes lessons that meet California State Content Standards and activities that teachers can bring to life simply by reviewing the front page and sharing the lesson with their students. For the latest Cotton Fact sheet and others you can click on this link or visit here. You will find a total of 44 Commodity Fact Sheets on their website.

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.