Mask Rule Dropped for Ag Employees

Cal/OSHA Votes To Drop Workplace Mask Rule For Fully Vaccinated Workers

On Thursday, June 17th, California regulators approved revised worksite pandemic rules that allow fully vaccinated employees the same freedoms as when they are off the job. The revised regulations adopted come after weeks of confusion. They conform with general state guidelines by ending most mask rules for people who are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order enabling the revisions to take effect without the normal 10-day approval period by the state Office of Administrative Law. See the COVID Prevention Emergency Readoption Standard here.

The key change in the revisions is abandoning a controversial provision where all employees would have had to wear masks indoors if there were unvaccinated employees in the workplace. Physical distancing and barriers are removed from the ETS, regardless of vaccination status. Physical distancing rules in employer-provided housing and transportation also are eliminated, if all employees are vaccinated.

Watch for additional details of the revised standard in Monday’s edition of the Update and register for the “Impacts of New COVID Rules on Ag Labor” webinar (see below).

2021-06-18T08:28:35-07:00June 18th, 2021|

Many Options for Melon Weed Control

 

Conventional Melon Weed Management in the Sacramento Valley

 

By Amber Vinchesi-Vahl, UCANR Cooperative Extension Colusa County

Sutter County grows between 300 and 800 acres of fresh-market honeydew, mixed melon, and cantaloupe each year. The fields vary between furrow and drip irrigation, with many fields in the Sutter Basin only receiving a pre-irrigation.

Because of the rapid growth of melons, they are competitive with weeds and one cultivation may be sufficient to control weed issues. The growing habits of melons reduce the need for herbicides, which is fortunate since the availability of registered and effective herbicides is limited.

Generally, in Sutter County, the field is tilled, pre-irrigated, worked again, and melons are planted into moisture. When weed pressure is high, a hand-hoeing crew comes in and cultivates. Since many of the conventional fields in the northern region receive little water, herbicides may not be as effective since they do not work well without water. If water is available, herbicides like Prefar and Curbit may be used.

Bensulide (Prefar) can be applied before planting and incorporated shallowly or as a preemergent herbicide under sprinkler irrigation. It is used to control small-seeded annual grasses, pigweed and purslane. Remember to always check the label and consider plantback restrictions, especially if following with corn or sorghum. A layby application of ethalfuralin (Curbit) may also be used after thinning when melon plants are young (4-5 leaf stage) to control late germinating weeds.

In 2017, I received a farm call about a grassy weed in a honeydew field that the pest control adviser had never seen in a melon field during his long career. He applied sethoxydim (Poast) twice and the grass (johnsongrass) kept coming back. When grasses are moisture stressed, sethoxydim can be less effective, which makes sense in a melon field receiving little irrigation.

2021-06-16T18:25:11-07:00June 16th, 2021|

CaDairy2Go Competition Celebrates Innovations

California Milk Advisory Board Selects 12 Creative Chefs  For Inaugural Culinary Event

 

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) this week announced the launch of an inaugural foodservice competition challenging professional chefs to create innovative “to-go” dishes using California dairy products. The “CADairy2Go” competition is inspired by chefs and foodservice operators who made quick, creative pivots to adjust their menus for the takeout and delivery model during the disruption caused by the pandemic.

The Real California Milk Foodservice Team hand-selected twelve culinary professionals to participate in the first-of-its-kind event, representing a variety of foodservice backgrounds, including experience in major restaurant chains, broadline distributors, independent restaurants, ghost kitchens, and food trucks.

Each chef will submit one dish in either the Cal-Mex or Cheese+Mac category, as well as a second dish under Innovate-To-Go, which allows for creativity beyond their assigned category. All dishes must be optimized for the takeout or “to-go” experience and incorporate sustainability sourced California cheese and other dairy ingredients.

 

The 2021 CADairy2Go participants are:

 

Carrie Baird – Rose’s Classic Americana – Boulder, CO

Victoria Elizondo –Cocina Local – Houston, TX

Gina Galvan – Mood for Food – San Juan Capistrano, CA

Gina Genschlea – Revolution Winery & Kitchen – Sacramento, CA

Nelson German – alaMar Kitchen & Bar, Sobre Mesa – Oakland, CA

Heidi Gibson – The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen – San Francisco, CA

Marti Lieberman – Mac Mart – Philadelphia, PA

Brian Mullins – Ms. Cheezious® – Miami, FL

Tamra Scroggins – Grill Concepts – Los Angeles, CA

Alex Sadowsky – Twin Peaks – Dallas, TX

Manish Tyagi – August 1 Five – San Francisco, CA

Mary Grace Viado – Village Tavern – Birmingham, AL

 

Participating chefs will win cash prizes from $500 to $5,000. Two finalists from each category will earn a trip to Napa, where they will compete in a live cook-off event July 28th at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia location. The final cook-off will be captured in a live broadcast that will be streamed in celebration of the chefs and their creations. Additional details on the competition and the chef competitors is available at CADairy2Go.

“The past year has challenged chefs to be strategic in creating dishes that are not only comforting but can also hold up for an off-premise dining experience. This competition leverages the off-premise dining trends that emerged during this time and celebrates chefs who worked to respond quickly to consumer needs,” said Nancy Campbell, Business Development consultant for CMAB Foodservice. “Dairy is an essential ingredient for bringing to-go menu innovations to life and provides the flavor and flexibility to any style of cooking – from plant-forward to comfort and everything in between.”

As the nation’s largest dairy state, California boasts a long list of cheesemakers and dairy processors, that are further driving to-go dining innovation California leads the nation in milk production and is responsible for producing more butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk than any other state. The state is the second-largest producer of cheese and yogurt. California milk and dairy foods can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies they are made exclusively with sustainably sourced milk from the state’s dairy farm families.

California is a reliable, consistent source of sustainable dairy products used by chefs throughout the world. Check out our REAL Makers chefs who rely on California dairy for their dishes.

 

2021-06-15T15:58:03-07:00June 15th, 2021|

Prop 12 Problems

Prop 12 a ‘Tough Situation’ for the Pork Industry

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Proposition 12 was passed by referendum back in 2018 and is scheduled to come into effect in 2022. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about how the law, which establishes new standards for confinement of specified farm animals, will be executed. Christine McCracken is executive director and protein analyst at Rabobank.

“The industry is kind of put into, you know, this difficult position of being faced with a rule that will make a lot of the pork that we raise here in the U.S. ineligible for sale in California without some pretty major legal consequences and financial consequences,” said McCracken.

The controversy is surrounding the fact that the law requiring certain growing conditions applies to all pork sold in California, regardless of where it is raised.

“It’s a tough position to be in for everyone: the retailer obviously, and not knowing whether or not they’ll have a lot of pork to sell. It’s tough for the processor, you know, with the potential of not having the visibility to encourage those changes and not knowing whether or not they’ll have enough pigs to process for California,” said McCracken.

“And for the producer, you know, they obviously have the added risk of not having markets for their pigs. So it’s, it’s a tough kind of industry situation at the moment,” noted McCracken.

Industry groups have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the measure.

2021-06-14T18:07:00-07:00June 14th, 2021|

California Pear Crop Coming Soon

California Pear Growers Committed to Growing Flavorful Pears that Ripen Naturally

 

As the California pear industry gears up for the coming harvest set to begin in early July, farmers are focusing on one thing – giving consumers a good eating experience.

The California Pear Advisory Board (CPAB) is predicting 2021 will be a great year for marketing pears. Inventories from last year’s Northwest pear crop are down from previous years with over 90 percent of the 2020 crop already sold.  Volume and quality of California pears are expected to be good, and timing should be earlier than in the last couple of seasons.

So far, imports of pears from South American are also down, but California pear growers are preparing for the possibility that imported pears could show up in U.S. markets as it gets closer to California’s harvest season. Often these pears are treated with anti-ripening agents that allow them to be stored for a year or longer.

“This season it will be extremely important for us to let consumers and retailers know fresh, new-crop pears that have not been treated with anti-ripening agents will be available from California in July,” said Chris Zanobini, CPAB’s Executive Director.

“Pears are often treated with anti-ripening agents, like 1-MCP, to keep them from ripening in storage. This allows shippers, particularly importers, to hold pears longer and ship them later in the season,” said Pat Scully of Scully Packing, a California pear producer.

“California pear farmers have pledged never to use anti-ripening agents,” says Scully. “We don’t believe this treatment results in a good eating experience for consumers.  Research by the University of California has found that when consumers buy pears that have been treated with anti-ripening agents, the pears may never ripen. This is not good for repeat sales.”

The California pear industry is working to get this message out to retailers and remind them that providing consumers with a good eating experience is the key to more sales and movement within the pear category.

“We’re hoping to convince retailers to support California pear farmers because we’re extremely focused on delivering high quality, ripe pears that consumers will enjoy and return to buy again and again,” said Kyle Persky, Sales Manager for Rivermaid Trading Company in Lodi, CA.

Persky noted California pear farmers expect to have an excellent crop that is more plentiful than the last two years. As a result, farmers have been focusing on pruning and thinning to improve fruit size.  The industry will also be waiting until pears are at optimum maturity before they begin harvest.

“These measures coupled with the California pear farmers pledge not to use anti ripening agents will surely result in an excellent year for fruit quality and flavor,” said Matt Hemly of Greene and Hemly, who grows pears in the River growing district of California.

The California Pear Advisory Board uses a robust social media program to deliver messaging about California pears to consumers. The group also works with influencers to educate consumers on how to ripen and use pears.

This year, the Board is partnering with the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) to hold a special webinar for registered dietitians, retail marketing teams and consumer influencers. The session will focus on maximizing taste while also addressing the issue of reducing waste, which is an important objective of many retailers.

“California pear farmers are supportive of efforts at retail to reduce waste,” says Richard Elliot of Stillwater Orchards.  “But we won’t reduce waste if consumers buy pears, take them home and then throw them away because they never soften or ripen.”

As part of its presentation to PBH’s Influencer audience, California pears will be talking about delivering flavor to consumers. This message is in line with the focus of PBH’s Have a Plant movement designed to encourage greater consumption of produce.

“We’ll be telling this audience about the best ways to select, ripen and store pears so they get the most out of them and reduce waste at the same time,” said Zanobini.

“Bartlett pears ripen much like a banana with a color change from green to yellow and at the same time getting softer, sweeter, more aromatic and flavorful.  But, unlike bananas, ripened pears can be put in the refrigerator where they will last from several days to a week,” he explained. “This allows consumers more time to eat them and reduces waste. And the eating experience is fantastic.

2021-06-11T18:26:33-07:00June 4th, 2021|

Register For The 2021 Citrus Webinars

2021 Citrus Webinar Series Coming Up

The Citrus Research Board (CRB), in coordination with the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), is rolling out a new CRB Webinar Series geared toward citrus growers and industry professionals.

The series will kick-off on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, with Dr. Greg Douhan, Area Citrus Advisor for Cooperative Extension Tulare County, providing an update to the industry. He will be followed by Mandy Zito, Deputy Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer for Fresno County Department of Agriculture, who will cover laws and regulations pertaining to pesticides, pest control operations, and worker safety that have gone into effect since 2017.

This webinar is currently pending approval for 1-hour of “Laws and Regulations” continuing education units from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and Certified Crop Advisors (CCA).

On Tuesday, June 8, 2021, Sonia Rios, Area Subtropical Horticulture Advisor for Cooperative Extension Riverside County, will provide an update to the industry. She will be followed by Monique Rivera, Extension Specialist from UC Riverside, who will cover various topics in citrus IPM. She will cover basic California red scale biology and information about selecting insecticides for organic and conventional treatment for Asian citrus psyllid as well as ants and thrips.

This webinar is currently pending approval for 1-hour of “Other” continuing education units from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) and Certified Crop Advisors (CCA).

To qualify for continuing education units, please use the following list of instructions:

  1. Register and login separately with your own email address
  2. Participate in the entire hour webinar session
  3. Respond to the polls/knowledge checks as they come up
    (If the polls do not work properly on your device, use chat to submit your answers.)
  4. Respond to the final survey at the end of the webinar session – please include your name, license number and email address
2021-05-27T18:59:47-07:00May 27th, 2021|

Westlands Praises Gov. Newsom on Drought Declaration

Westlands Water District Applauds Governor Newsom’s Drought Declaration, Investment in Water Infrastructure Repairs

Urges Collaborative Approach to Mitigate Drought Impacts

In response to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s expansion of the drought emergency to include the Central Valley, Tom Birmingham, Westlands Water District general manager, today issued the following statement:

“The realities of a changing climate mean California must prepare for longer, hotter droughts that can only be effectively mitigated through collaborative approaches that focus equally on our state’s economic and environmental sustainability. We applaud Governor Newsom’s action to mitigate the impacts of a second year of drought in the Central Valley, which has already manifested itself in fallowed fields and lost jobs due to lack of water.

In particular, his move to streamline water transfers and provide $200 million in funding for critical water infrastructure repairs as outlined in Senator Hurtado’s Senate Bill 559 will both help local communities manage drought impacts in the short term and improve drought resiliency by maximizing the beneficial use of every drop of water in the long term. Westlands appreciates the leadership of both Governor Newsom and Senator Hurtado in championing these critical water infrastructure repair investments, and we look forward to continuing to work with local, state and federal leaders to develop collaborative, holistic solutions to more effectively address the impacts of drought on our most vulnerable communities.”

 

Subsidence has caused the Central Valley Project canals, which carry water to Westlands and other water agencies, to lose up to 30% of their conveyance capacity over time. This lost conveyance capacity results in less water available at higher costs for farms, communities, and wildlife. Westlands is among a broad coalition of water agencies supporting Senate Bill 559 (Hurtado), S. 1179 (Feinstein), and H.R. 2552 (Costa) companion state and federal legislation designed to address this issue. Governor Newsom’s commitment of $200 million represents approximately one-quarter of the state funding outlined in SB 559.

The immediate challenge facing State agencies that are responsible for ensuring competing demands are met is achieving a reasonable balance among all competing beneficial uses. The State agencies must consider all demands being made on the limited water supplies available and the values involved with the beneficial uses of water – including economic and social values. Governor Newsom’s drought emergency declaration will provide State agencies with the tools needed to achieve that balance, and it is Westlands’ hope that the water needs of people and the economy will not be made subordinate to the needs of the environment.

Past studies indicate that statewide economic losses as a result of California’s 2014-2016 drought totaled $3.8 billion, with thousands of jobs lost in the Central Valley alone and many rural drinking water wells running dry. Earlier this year, Westlands urged Governor Newsom to help mitigate the impacts of a 5% water allocation from the Central Valley Project, which is currently not available for delivery. Over the last 10 years, Westlands and other South-of-Delta agricultural service and water repayments contractors have received a 100% allocation of water only once and have received a 0% allocation two times.

2021-05-24T17:59:33-07:00May 24th, 2021|

Get Vaccinated to Have More Freedom

CDPH Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

This week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) updated its recommendations for individuals who are fully vaccinated. A few key points from this guidance are below.

Fully vaccinated people can do the following:

• Spend time with other fully vaccinated people, including indoors, without wearing masks or physical distancing (outside a workplace setting).
• Spend time with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
• Refrain from wearing face coverings outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events, or other similar settings.

  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
  • Following a known exposure at work, fully vaccinated
    workers do not need to quarantine if asymptomatic.
  • In the workplace, employers subject to the Cal/OSHA
    COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards
    (ETS) must ensure that employees are following the
    current ETS face covering and testing requirements.

Fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions in public including wearing a well-fitted mask indoors, and when attending crowded outdoor events, as described above. Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If fully vaccinated people test positive for SARS-CoV-2, they should follow CDPH and local health department guidelines regarding isolation and/or exclusion from high-risk settings. For workplace settings, employers should follow the exclusion provisions of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated when it has been two weeks or more after they have received either their second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna) or their single-dose vaccine (J&J/Janssen).

As reported by Kahn, Soares & Conway (KSC), for workplace settings, employers should follow the exclusion provisions of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards. The Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) applies to all employers, employees, and to all places of employment with three exceptions:

• Workplaces where there is only one employee who does not have contact with other people.
• Employees who are working from home.
• Employees who are covered by the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases regulation.

KSC as reported, in correspondence with this week’s CDPH recommendations, and per Executive Order N-84-2020, the Cal/OSHA ETS now stipulates that fully vaccinated individuals who have had a COVID-19 exposure and are asymptomatic no longer need to be excluded under the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards. More information is available in the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards FAQs.

2021-06-08T17:11:54-07:00May 23rd, 2021|

Prop 12 Problems

Prop 12 a ‘Tough Situation’ for the Pork Industry

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

Proposition 12 was passed by referendum back in 2018 and is scheduled to come into effect in 2022. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about how the law, which establishes new standards for confinement of specified farm animals, will be executed. Christine McCracken is executive director and protein analyst at Rabobank.

“The industry is kind of put into, you know, this difficult position of being faced with a rule that will make a lot of the pork that we raise here in the U.S. ineligible for sale in California without some pretty major legal consequences and financial consequences,” said McCracken.

The controversy is surrounding the fact that the law requiring certain growing conditions applies to all pork sold in California, regardless of where it is raised.

“It’s a tough position to be in for everyone: the retailer obviously, and not knowing whether or not they’ll have a lot of pork to sell. It’s tough for the processor, you know, with the potential of not having the visibility to encourage those changes and not knowing whether or not they’ll have enough pigs to process for California,” said McCracken.

“And for the producer, you know, they obviously have the added risk of not having markets for their pigs. So it’s, it’s a tough kind of industry situation at the moment,” noted McCracken.

Industry groups have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the measure.

2021-05-12T18:14:16-07:00May 12th, 2021|

Potato Imports Can Enter Mexico

U.S. Potato Industry Celebrates Mexico’s Supreme Court Decision Overturning Decades-long Ban on Fresh U.S. Potato Imports

By Russell  Nemetz with the Ag Information Network

The Mexican Supreme Court has ruled by a unanimous vote of five to zero in favor of overturning a 2017 lower court decision that prevented the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout the country. The ruling, cheered by the National Potato Council and Potatoes USA, marks the end of a decade-long legal process that began when Mexico’s potato industry sued its government to prevent competition from imports.

“This ruling is consistent with Mexico’s obligations under the USMCA and the WTO. It represents a major step forward in the U.S. potato industry’s efforts to provide consumers throughout Mexico access to fresh, healthy U.S.-grown potatoes,” said Jared Balcom, Vice President of Trade Affairs for the National Potato Council (NPC) and potato grower from Pasco, Wash. “After decades of delay, we hope this ruling represents a light at the end of the tunnel and that Mexican regulators will immediately begin working on regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout their country.”

“Mexican consumers and the chip manufacturers in Mexico have waited way too long to access fresh U.S. potatoes,” stated Jaren Raybould Chair of Potatoes USA and a potato grower in Saint Anthony, Idaho. “We are hopeful that with this ruling the authorities will quickly reimplement the market access agreement and allow for high-quality U.S. potatoes to be enjoyed throughout Mexico.”

Since it first allowed for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes in 2003, Mexico has restricted those potatoes to a 26 kilometer-area along the U.S.-Mexico border. That restriction has violated Mexico’s obligations under numerous trade agreements, including NAFTA, WTO, and now the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Mexican government finally agreed to allow U.S. potatoes full access to their market beginning in May 2014; however, immediately after that was implemented, the National Confederation of Potato Growers of Mexico (CONPAPA) sued its government, claiming Mexican regulators have no authority to determine if agricultural imports can enter the country.

The Supreme Court decision rejected CONPAPA’s arguments and affirms that the Mexican government does indeed have the authority to issue regulations about the importation of agricultural and food products, including fresh U.S. potatoes.

“Mexico offers a significant opportunity for U.S. potato growers,” stated John Toaspern, Chief Marketing Officer at Potatoes USA. “The trade-in fruits and vegetables between the U.S. and Mexico is hugely beneficial to growers and consumers in both countries. In fact, Mexican avocados were granted access to the U.S. at the same time as U.S. potatoes to Mexico in 2003. Since that time, the U.S. government has honored the agreement, and imports of Mexican avocados are now over $2 billion. The U.S. can supply a wide variety of fresh high-quality potatoes to Mexico, russets, reds, yellows, whites, fingerlings, and chipping potatoes year-round that are not currently produced there. Mexican retailers, foodservice operators, food manufactures and ultimately Mexican consumers will benefit from this wide array of high-quality potatoes available year-round.”

“This is a significant step that effectively ends the legal process that has blocked our access to the Mexican market,” said NPC CEO Kam Quarles. “This effort has spanned numerous administrations and sessions of Congress, but the U.S. position never wavered. We are thankful for everyone at USDA, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and Members of Congress who have worked for years to encourage Mexico to lift these protectionist restrictions. We now look forward to working with the Mexican government and its regulatory agencies in immediately reinstating the rules to allow for fresh U.S. potatoes to be shipped and the normalization of trade between our countries.”

U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said, “The Mexican government agreed in 2014 to open trade to fresh U.S. potatoes, and it’s long past time our farmers are granted real market access. Today’s ruling comes as welcome news for Idaho potato growers. I’m proud to continue advocating for the Gem State’s ag producers so people across the world can enjoy our state’s most famous product.”

 

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said, “Today’s decision by the Mexican Supreme Court is a positive step forward. I will not, however, consider the matter finished until Idaho’s farmers are able to sell high-quality potatoes to every family in Mexico — as is their right under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Moreover, I remain concerned that Mexico is maintaining or enacting new restrictions on other U.S. agricultural products that lack any scientific justification. I will continue to work with USTR to ensure that Mexico upholds its commitments under the USMCA.

Mexico is the third-largest export market for U.S. potatoes and products valued at over $270 million in 2020. Despite the restriction to the 26-kilometer border region Mexico is the second-largest market for fresh potato exports accounting for 106,000 metric tons valued at $60 million in 2020. The U.S. potato industry estimates that access to the entire country for fresh U.S. potatoes will provide a market potential of $200 million per year, in five years.

2021-05-10T18:26:05-07:00May 10th, 2021|
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