California Farm Bureau Federation Honors Paul Wenger

Former CFBF President Paul Wenger Gets Distinguished Service Award

News Release From California Farm Bureau Federation

Citing his passion for agriculture, his tenacity, and his decades of service to Farm Bureau, the California Farm Bureau Federation presented its Distinguished Service Award to former CFBF President Paul Wenger. Wenger accepted the award during the organization’s 100th Annual Meeting last night in San Diego.

A third-generation farmer who grows almonds and walnuts on a family farm in Modesto, Wenger served as CFBF president from 2009 to 2017, ending his term after serving the maximum eight years in office. He has been a Stanislaus County Farm Bureau member since 1980, serving as county farm bureau president before being elected to the CFBF board and then as a statewide officer beginning in 1997, when he was elected the organization’s second vice president. Wenger also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

Current CFBF President Jamie Johansson described his predecessor as “tireless” in his work on behalf of the farm bureau and California agriculture.

“In his speech to our Annual Meeting last year, Paul reminded us that those who work the hardest, the longest, and invest the most are probably going to be successful. Although he was referring to Farm Bureau, the words certainly apply to Paul himself. He has remained actively involved in Farm Bureau and agriculture, and we look forward to his continued contributions,” Johansson said.

In nominating Wenger for the award, the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau pointed to his “lifetime in leadership roles in agriculture,” starting as a state Future Farmers of America officer in 1973, and cited “his passion for the industry and his tenacity to resolve problems and get things done.”

The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau volunteers from California. In addition to the award to Wenger, CFBF presented the Distinguished Service Award to longtime Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau leader James Marler.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.

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Farm Bill Deal a Big Win for U.S. Citrus Growers

Agreement Provides $25 Million for ACP and HLB

News Release

Recently, leading farm bill negotiators in the House and Senate announced that they have reached an “agreement in principle” signaling that a final deal will be made before the end of the year.

Included in the initial agreement is language providing $25 million per year for 5 years for research specific to the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid and deadly plant disease Huanglongbing (HLB).

The Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund will build upon the program created in the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) title in the 2014 Farm Bill, which dedicated research funding for citrus.

“The trust fund language is a significant win for U.S. citrus growers,” California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said. “It’s critical for the future of our industry and the domestic citrus market that we continue to invest in research aimed to find a solution for HLB.”

The Farm Bill funding specific to HLB research complements the $40 million per year program funded by California citrus growers to stop the spread of HLB, which has been detected in over 900 backyard citrus trees in Southern California. In recent years, the state of California has dedicated funds to augment ACP and HLB control efforts in urban areas, including the rearing and release of millions of beneficial insects in backyard citrus trees.

Negotiators have also agreed to maintain funding for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). Additionally, funding will continue for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program, which helps growers overcome artificial trade barriers.

“On behalf of the California citrus industry, I want to thank the lead farm bill negotiators in both houses for their commitment to passing a Farm Bill that includes this vital funding for the U.S. citrus industry and specialty crops,” Nelsen said.

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Mexican Fruit Fly Quarantine in Portion of Los Angeles County

Three Flies Detected in Long Beach

CDFA News Release

A portion of Los Angeles County, including the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, has been placed under quarantine for the Mexican fruit fly following the detection of three flies, including two mated females, within the City of Long Beach. Mated females are significant because they indicate a breeding population that increases the risk of spread of this pest. CDFA is working collaboratively on this project with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

The quarantine area measures 79 square miles, bordered on the north by CA-91; on the south by the Pacific Ocean; on the west by I-110; and on the east by Palo Verde Avenue. A link to the quarantine map may be found here: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/mexfly/regulation.html.

Sterile male Mexican fruit flies will be released in the area as part of the eradication effort. The release rate will be approximately 325,000 sterile males per square mile per week in an area up to 50 square miles around the infestation.  Sterile male flies mate with fertile female flies in the natural environment but produce no offspring. The Mexican fruit fly population decreases as the wild flies reach the end of their natural life span with no offspring to replace them, ultimately resulting in the eradication of the pest.  In addition, properties within 200 meters of detection sites are being treated with an organic formulation of Spinosad, which originates from naturally-occurring bacteria, in order to remove any mated female fruit flies and reduce the density of the population. Finally, fruit removal will occur within 100 meters of properties with larval detections and/or mated female detections.

The quarantine affects any growers, wholesalers, and retailers of susceptible fruit in the area as well as nurseries that grow and sell Mexican fruit fly host plants. Those businesses are all required to take steps to protect against the spread of the pest. At the Long Beach/Los Angeles ports, exports as well as imports may be impacted depending on specific circumstances. The quarantine will also affect local residents growing host commodities on their property. Movement of those commodities is not permitted. Residents are urged to consume homegrown produce on site. These actions protect against the spread of the infestation to nearby regions, where it could affect California’s food supply as well as backyard gardens and landscapes.

The Mexican fruit fly can infest more than 50 types of fruits and vegetables. For more information on this pest, please see a pest profile at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/go/MexFly.  Residents who believe their fruits and vegetables may be infested with fruit fly larvae are encouraged to call the state’s toll-free Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.

While fruit flies and other invasive species that threaten California’s crops and natural environment are sometimes detected in agricultural areas, the vast majority are found in urban and suburban communities.  The most common pathway for these invasive species to enter our state is by “hitchhiking” in fruits and vegetables brought back illegally by travelers as they return from infested regions of the world.  To help protect California’s agriculture and natural resources, CDFA urges travelers to follow the Don’t Pack a Pest program guidelines (www.dontpackapest.com).

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Study Forecasts Cost of Regulations on California Citrus Industry

Citrus Research Board Explains Cost Impacts on Growers

News Release From California Citrus Mutual

New regulations are expected to cost California citrus growers an average of $701 per acre per year, or $203 million annually statewide, according to a new study commissioned by the Citrus Research Board (CRB).

“Compliance with environmental regulations not associated with groundwater sustainability is estimated to increase costs by $17.7 million, or $67 per acre of citrus,” predicts Bruce A. Babcock, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside who authored the study. “New labor requirements will increase costs by $112 million, or $357 per acre, once they are all phased in.”

“Babcock has presented a well-researched economic report that shows how new regulations will increasingly impact California’s citrus industry,” said CRB President Gary Schulz.

The report, Impact of Regulations on Production Costs and Competitiveness of the California Citrus Industry, also predicts that controlling the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) “will increase costs by $65 million, or $248 per acre per year, if controls are extended to all citrus-growing regions.” Compliance training costs are estimated to increase costs by another $29 per acre, or $7.5 million for the state citrus industry.

“As I read and reread Dr. Babcock’s report, two things kept jumping off the page: one, ‘Cost increases borne by California’s citrus but not by … other citrus growing regions decrease the future competitiveness of California’s citrus industry’; and two, ‘… future compliance with these regulations is estimated to increase costs by $203 million, or $701 per acre per year,'” said California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen. “When the cost of citrus at store level gets too expensive, consumers look for lower priced fruit. This UCR report paints a clear path for policy makers if their goal is to drive the citrus industry out of California and onto off-shore production areas.”

The 20-page report includes a breakdown of increases in labor costs, including California’s minimum hourly wage increases, which are scheduled to rise in annual increments to $15 over the next four years. The report also covers the projected cost increases of recent state legislation dealing with paid sick leave, payment rates for rest and recovery periods, overtime and workers compensation.

The section on insecticide treatment addresses grower cost of spraying for ACP, even though the severity of the problem currently differs greatly in various areas of the state. If ACP establishes itself in all citrus regions in the state, which the report says is “almost inevitable,” control efforts would amount to $39.5 million per year, according to Babcock. This would be in addition to the state-mandated tarping of fruit that is transported to packinghouses, at a cost of approximately $9 million per year.

According to the report, The Food Safety Modernization Act, which was passed in 2011 and is still being implemented, will not require major changes for growers who are already GFSI-certified (Global Food Safety Initiative compliant).

The impact of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is hard to predict, according to Babcock. “It will not be possible to calculate the impact of SGMA until each basin’s groundwater sustainability plans have been finalized,” he states. “Without new surface water supplies, it seems inevitable that some farmland that currently relies on groundwater will need to be fallowed to balance withdrawals with recharge rates.”

Babcock, a Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, has won numerous awards for his applied policy research. He received a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Berkeley, and Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from UC Davis.

The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, the grower-funded and grower-directed program established in 1968 under the California Marketing Act, as the mechanism enabling the state’s citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research. The full report on the Impact of Regulations on Production Costs and Competitiveness of the California Citrus Industry, as well as more information about the Citrus Research Board, may be read at www.citrusresearch.org.

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Interior Secretary Zinke Agrees: Sacramento Water Grab “Unacceptable”

Zinke Directs Staff to Propose New Plan

News Release

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s visit to Don Pedro and New Melones Reservoirs at the request of U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) continues to yield results for the Valley, with Secretary Zinke issuing an internal memo Friday declaring the state’s proposed water grab an “unacceptable restriction” that reduces the Department of the Interior’s ability to deliver water and directing his agencies to propose a plan within 25 days to maximize water supply, construct new water storage, and resolve issues with the state, among other directives.

“After our tour of local reservoirs, Secretary Zinke recognizes that Sacramento’s water grab would cripple our communities, farms and water storage infrastructure,” Denham said. “Our water, our water rights, and our future depend on stopping this wasteful plan.”

Rep. Jeff Denham, photo courtesy of his Facebook page

Previously, the Bureau of Reclamation, within the Department of Interior, issued an official comment on the state’s proposed water grab, noting the plan “directly interfere[s] with the New Melones Project’s ability to store water” and “elevate[s] the Project’s fish and wildlife purposes over the Project’s irrigation and domestic purposes contrary to the prioritization scheme carefully established by Congress.”

The agency’s comment also specifies that siphoning off at least 40 percent of the Central Valley’s rivers during peak season would result in significant reductions in water storage at New Melones and result in diminished power generation as well as recreational opportunities. The agency recommends the Board reconsider and postpone the scheduled August 21-22 public meeting to allow for “additional due diligence and dialogue.”

Recently, Denham’s amendment to stop the state’s dangerous water grab passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a Department of the Interior appropriations bill, and put a major spotlight on this issue. The amendment, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, prohibits federal agencies from participating in the state’s plan to deplete the federally owned New Melones reservoir, which provides water for the Central Valley Project and generates hydropower.

Sacramento’s plan would drain significantly more water from New Melones each year, potentially leaving it completely dry some years. This would put in jeopardy critical water supplies for Central Valley farmers and communities who rely on the water for their homes, businesses, farms, and electric power. The amendment takes this issue head-on to protect Valley water.

Denham will continue fighting to protect Central Valley water, support science-driven river management plans that revitalize our rivers without recklessly wasting water, and push major policies like the New WATER Act that will solve California’s water storage crisis and keep the Valley fertile and prosperous for generations to come.

See the memo from Secretary Zinke here, or to read the full comment from the Department of the Interior on the state water grab plan, click here. For more information about what Denham is doing to fight for water in the Valley, visit www.Denham.house.gov/water, where you can also sign up to receive periodic updates on his work in Washington to improve local water infrastructure, storage and delivery.

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Interior Dept: Water Grab at New Melones Devastating for Central Valley

Comments Come After Secretary of the Interior’s Visit

News Release from the Office of Rep. Jeff Denham

Following Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s visit to Don Pedro and New Melones Reservoirs at the request of U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), the Department of Interior issued an official comment on Friday regarding the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed water grab.

The Department of Interior’s comment notes that the proposed water grab “directly interfere[s] with the New Melones Project’s ability to store water” and “elevate[s] the Project’s fish and wildlife purposes over the Project’s irrigation and domestic purposes contrary to the prioritization scheme carefully established by Congress.” Interior’s comment also specifies that siphoning off at least 40 percent of Central Valley’s rivers during peak season would result in significant reductions in water storage at New Melones and result in diminished power generation as well as recreational opportunities. DOI recommends the Board reconsider and postpone the scheduled August 21-22 public meeting to allow for “additional due diligence and dialogue.”

Rep. Jeff Denham, photo courtesy of his Facebook page

“Sacramento’s radical water grab would cripple the Central Valley’s economy, farms and community.  Secretary Zinke saw that when he visited New Melones and Don Pedro reservoirs with me last week,” Denham said. “They cannot drain our reservoirs and ignore our concerns.  I will continue fighting to make sure Central Valley voices are heard.”

“Under Sacramento’s plan, the Valley will suffer skyrocketing water and electricity rates.” Denham explained. “After a decade and millions of our money spent on a study that they required, the board ignored the science based proposal that would save our fish while preserving our water rights.  We will not allow them to take our water and destroy our way of life”

Last week, Denham’s amendment to stop the state’s dangerous water grab passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a Department of the Interior appropriations bill, and put a major spotlight on this issue. The amendment, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, prohibits federal agencies from participating in the state’s plan to deplete the federally owned New Melones reservoir, which provides water for the Central Valley Project and generates hydropower. Sacramento’s plan would drain significantly more water from New Melones each year, potentially leaving it completely dry some years. This would put in jeopardy critical water supplies for Central Valley farmers and communities who rely on the water for their homes, businesses, farms, and electric power. The amendment takes this issue head-on to protect Valley water.

Denham will continue fighting to protect Central Valley water, support science-driven river management plans that revitalize our rivers without recklessly wasting water, and push major policies like the New WATER Act that will solve California’s water storage crisis and keep the Valley fertile and prosperous for generations to come.

To read the full comment from the Department of the Interior, click here. For more information about what Denham is doing to fight for water in the Valley, visit www.Denham.house.gov/water, where you can also sign up to receive periodic updates on his work in Washington to improve local water infrastructure, storage and delivery.

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Officials Applaud Ruling in Gerawan Employees’ Favor

Ballots in UFW Decertification Vote Must be Counted

By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor

Two officials spoke out via press release following today’s ruling that the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) must count the ballots cast by Gerawan employees in the 2013 vote to decertify the United Farm Workers (UFW) as their union bargaining representative.

George Radanovich, President of the California Fresh Fruit Association, applauded the decision by the 5th District Court of Appeal.

George Radanovich
George Radanovich

Radanovich stated, “This has been a long time coming. We are encouraged and pleased to see the Court account for the most important opinion in this entire matter, the prerogative of the employees.”

Gerawan employees voted in a sanctioned election in November 2013 to decertify the United Farm Workers as their bargaining representative. Despite having ordered, sanctioned and supervised the election, the ALRB impounded the ballots, withheld a final vote count, and thereby denied recognition and acceptance of the employees’ decision.

Radanovich continued, “Today’s Court action would not have occurred without the determined effort of Gerawan Farming, Inc.; the Gerawan family; and in particular, company president Dan Gerawan, for defending his company and his employees’ right to choose. Finally, sunlight has been cast onto this injustice and the farmworkers’ voice will be heard.”

Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) made the following statement regarding today’s ruling:

Jim Patterson

“This moment is the next step in the most important civil rights battle of our time. More than 2,600 immigrant farmworkers from the Central Valley cast their ballots to determine their own future. Those votes were locked up tight and stowed away by the ALRB—the same agency whose job it is to protect the rights of farmworkers.”

“These hard-working men and women know exactly why their ballots were taken, and they have spent countless hours fighting for the fundamental right to have their votes counted so their voices can be heard loud and clear. Today is victory for them.”

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Future of Integrated Pest Management

IPM: A Decision Making Process

By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor

Lori Berger is the academic coordinator for the University of California’s statewide Integrated Pest Management program. She spoke with California Ag Today recently about the sustainability of IPM and where it’s heading in the future.

“IPM is part of a sustainable approach to pest management. It’s very holistic. It’s a decision-making process. It incorporates all factors in an environment and in a situation, and it uses all human resources.”

Berger believes that even though IPMs are sustainable, the system might not work as well as it should.

“IPM has been around for 50 years, but our system is somewhat stuck in that we tend to be more reactive than proactive,” she explained. “If there’s an event such as an invasive pest or some … pesticide incident, some huge regulatory change or some legislative pressure, it’s like all of a sudden the system needs to reboot itself. We need to look deeper into the system and be working in a more embedded way across platforms and people.”

Berger told us that instead of looking at things in a linear way, it’s important to look at all the parts and how they relate to each other to find flaws in the system.

“As scientists, we tend to look at things cause and effect. We were looking into optimizing the whole by looking at the parts, but now taking things that are more of a systemic level, we’re trying to looking at the parts and also how they work in relationship to each other. That’s to where we can realize some of our biggest gains that there’s not as much at stake, or there’s less risk for all parties, and people are more aware of what’s going on.”

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Bayer’s “Grow On” Tool Pinpoints Sustainable Farming

Program Segmented for Different Crops

By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor

Nevada Smith of Sacramento is a marketing manager for Bayer Crop Science’s Western Region. California Ag Today recently spoke with him about Grow On, a tool that farmers can use to identify, apply, and communicate sustainable farm practices.

“It’s a tool to help growers really think about how they approach the marketplace and how they communicate the message around sustainability. We think it’s a critical aspect for not only … their success but our success,” Smith explained. “But there’s many things they’re not really identifying that they do every day from a common standpoint that they need to promote themselves. What we’ve really done in the next step which we felt was missing was really going after each crop segment. In the Grow On campaign, we have a citrus segment, a tree nut segment, a grape segment, and several other ones. “

Segmenting the program can help target specific aspects of each type of crop.

“You can really understand what aspects might provide you from a labor point of view that really affects grapes and … performance,” Smith said. “If I’m a citrus guy, what am I doing about bees? These are different components, so you don’t really overlap. We’re really trying to ground into each crop.”

The idea behind Grow On is to give farmers the tools to be advocates for farming and sustainable agriculture.

“Bayer’s producing this before the marketplaces, which I really don’t understand, and let them be their own conduits,” Smith said. “We’ve talked about advocacy. We’ve talked about what growers are doing each day to solve their own problems to keep themselves sustainable, but now’s an opportunity to take these little aspects in six different buckets here and really understand how they can talk the story themselves.”

“We look at the big picture, and what we’re trying to do is provide solutions to what Bayer’s providing. They’ll begin to see other things that their doing themselves. They can organize themselves in thought and provide those tools to whoever’s buying their commodity and crop and also to that persons who’s asking them why do you farm? How are you helping the environment through your practices? This is the platform for them to do that.”

For more information about Grow On, visit cropscience.bayer.us.

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Agricultural Guestworker Act Won’t Help California

Proposed Legislation Long Way from What State Needs

By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor

Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Agricultural Guestworker Act is moving forward for the full Ag Committee to consider it, but according to Paul Wenger, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation, it’s a long way from what California needs.

“They did something with the H2C proposal. It’s a long, long, long ways from what we need here in California. We’ve been very clear on that … with Kevin McCarthy’s office, being the leader of the Republicans and really our key architect for all things that go through the Legislature, and so we’re in constant contact with Congressman McCarthy,” Wenger said.

The ag leaders in California are pretty astounded that Congress is doing anything about labor.

“We’re glad we finally got something to discuss, but there’s a long ways to go,” Wenger explained. “As it’s written, as it came through the subcommittee, there’s really nothing there that would work for our employees here in California and give us the kind of flexibility that we need, but we need a vehicle to start the discussion. … Talking to Congressman [David] Valadao’s office, Jeff Denham and others on the Republican side because it’s really got to be led by the Republicans.”

“We  now need a lot more that will allow for some portability of our workforce, in order to get legal documentation for those folks that don’t have good documentation that are already here in our state working without touchback, because we know folks aren’t going to go back and stand in line for 20 years waiting for some kind of a work authorization.”

 

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