NEWS & ISSUES

Preliminary Cotton Acreages for California Released

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Pink Bollworm Program have released the preliminary acreages for most of the cotton growing counties in California.  The breakdown is as follows:

With a currently estimated 4,200 acres in the Sacramento Valley, the overall total is estimated to be 295,848 acres statewide.  It is too early for the Pink Bollworm Program to confirm Pima/Upland splits, but current estimates put the split at 75%/25%, but we will wait to confirm what was actually planted, especially given the late announcement on water.

Cotton Board Seeking Nominees

The Cotton Board is currently seeking nominees from California to fulfill a three year term beginning on January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2020.  Based in Memphis, Tennessee, The Cotton Board is the oversight and administrative arm of the Cotton Research & Promotion Program, representing U.S. Upland cotton.  To fund the Program, The Cotton Board collects a per bale assessment of all Upland cotton harvested and ginned in the U.S., as well as an importer assessment for all Upland cotton products imported into the U.S.  To conduct the Program, The Cotton Board contracts with Cotton Incorporated to carryout the actual research and promotion activities for U.S. producers and importers of cotton.  While Cotton Incorporated is consumer and trade focused, it is a charged function of The Cotton Board’s mission to keep U.S. producers and importers of cotton informed on the innovative developments coming from the Program.  Being a board member of the Cotton Board will help shape cotton’s future and play a critical role in the success of the cotton industry for years to come.  Growers Aaron Barcellos and Dustin Mancebo currently represent California.  There are 2 to 3 meetings per year, and travel costs are reimbursed.  Anyone interested in encouraged to apply.  If you are interested, please contact Roger Isom at (559)252-0684 or via email at roger@ccgga.org.

ARB Holds Hearing on PM2.5 Plan – Association Continues Fight

While activists outnumbered agricultural representatives 10 to 1, the Association yet again spoke out against the mandate to tractors, harvesters and pump engines at the California Air Resources Board Hearing this week in Sacramento on the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for attaining the PM2.5 Standard.  Once again, Association President/CEO Roger Isom testified before the Board to ensure agriculture’s accomplishments were recognized.  The plan will have a hearing In August or September, but CARB demanded an update from staff on the development of the plan and what will be included.  The Association, along with the Nisei Farmers League, were the only ag organizations to testify at the hearing where environmental advocates and some ARB board members called for a mandatory farm equipment and harvester replacement rule.  Isom highlighted the 12.65 tons of NOx reductions already obtained on a voluntary basis through the NRCS EQIP program and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s Ag Equipment Incentive Program.

Soil Health Workshop Next Week

Next Week, the Cal Poly Center for Sustainability will be holding a Soil Health Assessment Field Day at Macon Seed in Turlock.  The event will feature plant pathologist and Denele Analytical Director, Joe Mullinax, USDA-NRCS Regional Soil Health Specialist, Zahangir Kabir, as well as Cal Poly staff.  The event will focus on the contribution of biology and organic matter as it relates to soil health, how they can be measured and supported through sustainable agricultural management practices, as well as a variety of tools available now that assess soil health.  The event will be held Thursday, May 25th at Macon Seed, located in Turlock, CA.  For more information on the event and registration information, please visit: http://cfs.calpoly.edu/soilsworkshops.html

 Flier 

CCGGA Never Stops Working

After two days at the State Capitol with Board Members discussing critical issues affecting the cotton industry, the Association hurried back to Fresno yesterday to attend a special Air Resources Board (ARB) Meeting on the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the San Joaquin Valley.  The evening meeting which began at 5:00 pm included a presentation by the ARB and discussions on the need for a mandatory farm equipment replacement rule and increased requirements for Conservation Management Practices (CMPs).  Then it was opened to public comment, where industry was outnumbered 10 to 1 and the attack on agriculture began.  Several environmental groups berated the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and ARB for not mandating the replacement of farm equipment and requiring more CMPs.  After 3 hours of this testimony, Association President/CEO Roger Isom addressed the crowd by stressing the steps that farmers have taken to clean up the air in advance of these regulations.  Isom talked about the reductions achieved through the CMP rule and practices developed hand in hand with the industry, and the tremendous reductions achieved through the incentive programs such as Carl Moyer and the EQIP program through NRCS.  Isom also discussed the conversion of ag pumps from diesel to electric through the Ag-ICE program and the current work on Ag-ICE 2.0.   The Nisei Farmers League also testified in opposition to the proposed control measures and the push by the environmental community to increase regulations on agriculture.

Association Voices Concern Over PG&E Rate Increase

Yesterday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held a meeting in Merced to discuss the proposed revenue requirements for PG&E’s 2017 General Rate Case (GRC).  In Phase 1 of the GRC, PG&E asked for an increase of $85.7 million over present rates, followed by additional increases of $444 million in 2018 and $361 million in 2019.  While the public testimony was especially light, Association President/CEO Roger Isom was there and voiced the agricultural industry’s concerns over the continued increase in rates over the past 15 years.  Isom informed the PUC Commissions that average electricity rates for agriculture have increased from an average of 11.7 cents per kilowatt hour in 2000 to over 18 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017.  The total amount paid by farmers in the PG&E territory was around $500 million in 2004 and over $1.1 billion in 2014!  Coming increases in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and further impacts from tightening greenhouse gas regulations will only serve to increase rates even further.  Isom told the Commissioners this must be considered and that agriculture cannot pass along the cost and has passed the point of being competitive.  The PUC can no longer ignore this!

Association Testifies Once Again on District’s PM2.5 Plan

The Association continued its fight against further regulation of PM2.5 emissions from agricultural operations testifying before the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District today at the District workshop on the PM2.5 State Implementation.  Association President/CEO Roger Isom testified against the mandatory replace of all tractors and harvesters, despite an individual alleging to be an almond grower telling the District that every grower should be mandated to purchase new low emitting almond harvesting equipment.  Instead, Association Director of Technical Services Christopher McGlothlin testified that incentives have been used to get equal or greater emission reductions on a voluntary basis.  McGlothlin also commented that incentives allow farmers to purchase new equipment sooner then they normally would and the industry is working with the District and USDA NRCS to strengthen and support the incentive program for tractors and harvesters.   Isom also commented against the proposal to increase fugitive dust requirements for PM2.5, as the science does not support this.  This is another in a series of SJVAPCD and CARB workshops, including two more to be held next week.  As has been the case in all of the previous workshops the Association will be present to fight these proposed far reaching regulations.

Association Opposes Cal/OSHA Indoor Heat Stress Regulation

The Association joined several other agricultural organizations in submitting written comments opposing CalOSHA’s proposed “Heat Illness Prevention in Indoor Places of Employment” standard.  Last year, the legislature in its infinite wisdom decided it was necessary for California to not only be the only state with an outdoor heat illness regulation, they passed legislation to mandate the Cal/OSHA adopt an “indoor heat illness” regulation.  Accordingly, Cal/OSHA has now drafted and released a proposed standard entitled Heat Illness Prevention in Indoor Places of Employment.  If enacted, the proposed standard would require employers to conduct the following:

  • Establish, implement and maintain an effective heat illness prevention plan for “indoor heat illness”
  • Measure the wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT)
  • Identify each individual employee’s work activity levels and clothing adjustment factors
  • Conduct heat stress hazard assessment of all facilities
  • Provide access to potable drinking water
  • Provide for preventative cool-down rest periods of no less than 5 minutes
  • Establish effective first-aid and emergency response procedures for responding to possible heat illness
  • Provide engineering controls to reduce employee exposures to reduce heat stress including but not limited to: isolation of hot processes or work areas, shielding of radiant heat sources, insulating hot objects, and local exhaust ventilation
  • Provide administrative controls including but not limit to: reduced activity levels, work-rest schedules and cooled rest areas
  • Remind employees throughout the work shift to drink plenty of water
  • Conduct pre-shift meetings to review high heat procedures
  • Make personal protective equipment, such as water-cooled garments, air-cooled garments, ice-packet vests, wetted over-garments and heat-reflective clothing available to employees exposed to high heat sources
  • Keep records of heat stress hazard assessments and trainings

The Association has reviewed the proposed standard and attended the recent workshop held in Oakland on the proposed standard.  Based upon that review we have serious concerns with the proposed regulations and the impact they could have on agricultural operations, including tree nut farms, hullers and processors.  We feel strongly that the proposed standard is not warranted or justified in the agricultural industry, is overly cumbersome and too complicated and costly to implement.

EPA Denies Activist Petition Aimed to Ban Chlorpyrifos

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an order denying the activist petition that sought to ban chlorpyrifos (Lorsban). This long fought battle starting in October 2015 was begun with pressure from Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) to submit a petition proposing to revoke all U.S. food tolerances of chlorpyrifos, in essence regulating it out of use. As one of the most widely used pesticides across the world, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA) and other representatives of the agricultural industry defended the product and grower practices relentlessly in an effort to keep the product available. The largest issues being the main argument in the petition was centered on a study that lacked availability of raw data, duplication or further review. CCGGA and others recently submitted comments citing issues with this data, today’s news shows they listened. EPA’s denial of the petition is based off of the foundation in which EPA was created on, relying on sound-science and a transparent process. EPA will now direct its efforts to updating and revising its human health assessment for chlorpyrifos under the standard procedures of the ongoing registration review process, scheduled for completion on October 1, 2022. This is great news for producers and shows the EPA’s redirection towards supporting a scientific process!

High VOC Restrictions to Continue in SJV Through 2017

The Department of Pesticide Regulations released their Annual Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) Emissions Inventory Report. Pursuant to the State Implementation Plan goals the San Joaquin Valley, one of five ozone nonattainment areas (NAAs) in California, was to have VOC emissions no greater that 18.1 tons/day. This is the equivalent to a 12 percent reduction from 1990. In 2013 the San Joaquin Valley NAA exceeded this benchmark triggering additional restrictions on non-fumigant pesticides identified as high-VOC. While emissions went down in 2015, the regulations require that the high-VOC restrictions remain in effect from May-October 2017. However, the exemption for use on high-VOC Chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) for use on late season aphid remains in effect.