CA Minimum Wage Jan 1 is $15

New Minimum Wage Starting Jan. 1 2022

 

By Teresa McQueen, Western Growers Corporate Counsel

Effective Jan. 1, 2022, the minimum wage in California will increase to $15 per hour for large employers with 26 or more employees; it will increase to $14 for small employers with fewer than 25 employees.

The amount for small employers will increase again on Jan. 1, 2023 to $15 per hour.

State law requires that California workers be paid the minimum wage; in addition, some cities and counties have a local minimum wage that his higher than the state rate. Employers should keep this rule in mind: When faced with conflicting employment law standards, an employer must follow the standard that is most beneficial to the employee. Review the UC Berkeley Labor Center’s detailed list of local minimum wage ordinances for additional guidance.

Agricultural employers in California should also be mindful of the continued phase-in of agricultural overtime provisions. In 2016, California initiated a plan to phase-in agricultural overtime to the same basis used in most other California industries. The multi-year phase-in schedule continues in 2022 for large employers (26 or more employees).

As of Jan. 1, 2022, a large employer must pay overtime of 1.5 times the employees’ regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. This is the last phase-in for large employers. Click here for important information on calculating the regular rate of pay.

Employers are required to post information on wages, hours and working conditions at a worksite area accessible to employees. In addition, employers must ensure that the wage rate is displayed on the employee’s pay stub and that employees are paid at least the minimum wage even when employees are paid at the piece rate.

Updated wage and hour notice posters (Spanish and English) can be found on the Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement website.

2021-12-31T10:15:48-08:00December 31st, 2021|

A Better Dairy Digester

Dairy Digesters Have Struggled

A digester that can turn manure from dairy cattle into renewable fuel is not a new concept, but over the years very few have lasted. Daryl Maas of Maas Energy Works is a part of a collaboration in Tulare County California that have developed a model to make it work.

“Up until 10 years ago, even five years ago, a lot of digesters had struggled in California and elsewhere. They didn’t have a strong revenue model. They were often under capitalized or not maintained well. Just the technology was overly complex, but a covered lagoon in Tulare county California is about the simplest digester you can imagine,” said Maas.

These covered lagoons are located on site and over a dozen dairies and the biogas is connected to Calgren Renewable Fuels via pipeline.

“As a practical matter in California what we do is we build a large tarp, a gas tight tarp over a pond of manure,” said Maas. “So if you can imagine several acres of liquid manure sitting there, which is something we imagine all the time here, we love these topics. If you were to put a gas tight seal over the top of it, the bacteria in that manure, they think there’s still in a cow. They continue breaking down the little bits of calories and releasing methane gas, which we can capture. And then we’ve got a collection of biomethane, which is mostly methane gas, which is the same energy as natural gas.”

2021-12-28T12:16:35-08:00December 28th, 2021|

CDFA Celebrates 30 Years with USDA Pesticide Data Program

CDFA Food Safety Scientists Celebrate 30 Years of Continuous Growth Partnering With USDA Pesticide Data Program

 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) joins the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Agricultural Marketing Service Pesticide Data Program (PDP). CDFA’s Center for Analytical Chemistry (CAC) Food Safety group has partnered with PDP since its inception in 1991.

PDP is a federal partnership with nine states that monitors pesticide residues in the U.S. food supply. PDP data helps demonstrate the high quality of the U.S. food supply — analyses show that pesticide residues are lower than the limits established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in nearly all food samples (typically >99%).

The partnership between the agencies started with a screening list of 28 pesticide compounds. It has since expanded the scope to detect and quantify more than 515 compounds.

Partnering in this project has helped the CAC Food Safety program model its quality system framework into one that generates the highest-quality data for enforcement and regulatory purposes. Innovation was fostered through CAC scientists applying novel analytical methods and custom-made software to automate data processing and review.

“These endeavors opened doors to continuous technical improvement and enabled us to significantly increase our capability to generate high-quality, defensible data in a fast-turnaround work environment,” said CAC Environmental Program Manager Tiffany Tu. “The benefit gained from collaborating with other agencies in the pesticide analysis field in impactful scientific projects helped further our goal of being in the forefront of the pesticide analysis arena, which also ensures CAC Food Safety program’s relevance in our mission of promoting and protecting California agriculture.”

2021-12-15T10:46:09-08:00December 15th, 2021|

Important COVID Prevention at Almond Industry Conference

Almond Industry Conf. Offers Before-You-Go-Tips

Big Event will he at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center

It’s almost here! The Almond Conference is just around the corner and we are looking forward to gathering in-person with our friends and colleagues in the almond industry. When the Board of Directors made the decision to move forward with an in-person conference at our meeting in June, we knew it would be a challenge given State of California restrictions on large indoor gatherings. We knew there was a risk in moving forward with planning when we could get the rug pulled out from under us at any time, but we felt the benefits of meeting in person outweighed the risks and voted unanimously to move forward.

Now here we less than one week out and we are full speed ahead! More than 3,000 industry members have pre-registered to join us in downtown Sacramento on Dec. 7-9. A record number of exhibitors will be arriving this weekend to set up for the largest trade show The Almond Conference has ever assembled. And staff have put together a tremendous lineup of educational sessions, keynote speakers and world-class entertainment!

In order to meet in person we must meet the State requirements for “mega events” (more than 1,000 people indoors). This includes requiring attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arriving in Sacramento. This is a State of California requirement, not an Almond Conference policy (these are the same restrictions that are in place to attend a Kings game at the Golden One Center). We understand this is an inconvenience and have tried to make it as easy as possible to provide this information so we can hold the event in person. See below for more information.

Also, at this time, the County of Sacramento requires masks be worn indoors in public spaces, including the Convention Center. Sacramento County’s Public Health Department will end their indoor mask requirement if the count reaches 5 or fewer cases per 100,000. We’re watching the numbers closely and currently Sacramento is on a downward trend at around 10 cases per 100,000. We are hoping the downward trend continues as we know many of you would prefer not to wear masks in the facility. We will update you if the County lifts the requirement. If not, you will need a mask to enter the Convention Center.

We appreciate everyone’s understanding and assistance as we navigate the various State and Local requirements to hold The Almond Conference in person. We hope you’ll agree that the opportunity to meet in person is worth it! Thank you for your patience and we’re looking forward to seeing you next week in Sacramento.

2021-12-01T16:48:11-08:00December 1st, 2021|

Reducing Food Waste by Creating Other Good Food

UC Master Food Preservers Turn Food Scraps Into Gifts Dec. 1

 

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach

Free online class offers recipes for using food scraps, answers questions about food preservation

“Putting food in our bellies instead of landfills is good for the planet,” said Sue Mosbacher, University of California Master Food Preserver Program coordinator. In landfills, decaying food releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

“We can reduce food waste and save money by creating new foods from food scraps,” Mosbacher said. “Instead of throwing away a lemon peel after squeezing out the juice, use the lemon zest to make lemon curd or citrus salt. They make wonderful homemade gifts for the holidays.”

UC Cooperative Extension Master Food Preservers, a program of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, provides ideas for using leftovers and advice for safely preserving food.

On Dec. 1, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., UCCE Master Food Preserver volunteers of Amador and Calaveras counties will host a free online class to show samples of apple honey, citrus salt, strawberry vinaigrette, sugared walnuts and lemon curd. Recipes will be emailed to participants.

“Many of these gifts are inexpensive to make because you’re using food scraps – such as lemon rind or apple peel – and a few other ingredients. You can put the citrus salt in jars you’ve saved,” Mosbacher said. “It is easy to make and there’s no special equipment needed.”

After the “show and tell” session, the UCCE Master Food Preserver volunteers will answer participants’ questions about freezing, dehydrating and canning foods and food safety.

Because the class is online, anyone can participate, regardless of their location. Register for the one-hour Zoom class at https://mfp.ucanr.edu/Events/?calitem=516566.

The UCCE Master Food Preserver Program extends UC research-based information about home food safety and preservation to the public throughout the year. UCCE Master Food Preserver volunteers are located in 19 counties of California, most recently certifying volunteers in Modoc County, where they are offering pressure canner testing.

UCCE Master Food Preserver volunteers host monthly workshops on the first Wednesday of each month, with hosting duties rotating between Sacramento, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras counties.

For 2022, the UCCE Master Food Preservers of Sacramento County are planning to offer the following workshops via Zoom:

  • Jan. 19 – Citrus for Super Bowl
  • Feb. 16 – Dehydration for Soups
  • March 16 – Soups & Roots
  • April 20 – “Night of Fermenting” Cheese/Yogurt/Sauerkraut
  • May 18 – Jams & Jellies
  • June 15 – “Ready for BBQ Season” Condiments & Beverages
  • July 20 – Red, White & Blue
  • Aug. 17 – “Tomato Mania” Salsas, Sauces & Peppers
  • Sept. 21 – Sausages & Mustards
  • Oct. 19 – “Apples, Pears & Persimmons Oh My”
  • Nov. 16 – Sides Dishes for your Holiday Dinner
  • Dec. 21 – Quick Gifts

To sign up for any of the workshops above, visit https://sacmfp.ucanr.edu.

To find other upcoming UCCE Master Food Preserver Program events, visit https://mfp.ucanr.edu/Events. To find a program in your county, visit https://mfp.ucanr.edu/Contact/Find_a_Program.

Resources for preserving food and more information about the UCCE Master Food Preserver Program are available at https://mfp.ucanr.edu.

2021-11-30T18:13:20-08:00November 30th, 2021|

Aubrey Bettencourt Will Head up Almond Alliance

Almond Alliance of California Names Aubrey Bettencourt as President/CEO

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) has named Aubrey Bettencourt as its new President and CEO. She currently serves as Director for Sustainability for the California Cattle Council and Western United Dairies and has extensive experience dealing with a wide range of California agricultural and natural resource issues.

Bettencourt succeeds Elaine Trevino, who has been nominated by President Biden to be the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative. Trevino is awaiting a confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

Almond Alliance Chairman Mike Curry said Bettencourt’s selection came after an extensive and thorough executive search. Curry commented, “We are extremely excited to have Aubrey Bettencourt as the Almond Alliance’s new President and CEO. Aubrey comes to us with a wealth of diverse knowledge and innovative advocacy work on behalf of farmers and ranchers. As the California State Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency, she fought to keep ‘farmers farming’ through the delivery of effective and efficient agricultural programs.

Serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Water and Science Division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bettencourt developed and coordinated national water and science policy, expanding her extensive knowledge of state and national water issues and available resources, making her a unique asset to our membership and community.” Curry added, “Aubrey’s work as the director of the statewide non-profit, California Water Alliance, has given her the tools necessary to advocate for our members as the water crisis in California becomes even more complicated.

As the Director of Sustainability for the California Cattle Council and Western United Dairies, Bettencourt has focused on water supply and water quality, forest health and fire prevention, carbon sequestration, climate resiliency and ground water sustainability. Raised in a farming family, Aubrey has firsthand knowledge of what it takes for a family farm to survive in California and beyond.” “I am excited to join the Almond Alliance, a dynamic leader in American agriculture,” Bettencourt said. “As a fourth generation California farmer, it is a personal honor to serve. I look forward to working with this team to keep farmers and processors providing economic opportunity to our rural communities, bringing worldwide the highest quality product from our farms to your table.”

Bettencourt noted, “The California almond farmer is the most sophisticated in the world; leading in technique, technology, sustainability, safety, and quality. We take pride in this role and great responsibility in this legacy. The challenges we face as an industry including water, labor, energy, supply chain, and climate change, are opportunities for our continued leadership and advocacy. Rather than reacting, we will lead with our own achievable, common-sense solutions to these challenges for the continued success of our farmers, our communities, our businesses, our environment, and our consumers.” Curry noted that in her three years at the helm, Trevino led the almond industry through some very challenging times and wished her the best in her new position.

“I am so incredibly excited for Elaine and her nomination by the President to be the next Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR,” Curry commented. “As the President and CEO of The Almond Alliance, Elaine has led our industry through very difficult times. From trade wars, labor issues, struggles during the pandemic, to port issues, Elaine has been a fierce leader fighting the good fight. In every step of the way she has done the good work for California. Yet, Elaine has always kept the communities of our members at top of mind, knowing the economic impact the almond industry has on so many California communities. Elaine has been a true advocate for the good of all. Elaine is the type of leader with the focus to leave things better then she found them.” Looking ahead to her new role, Curry said, “There is no doubt in my mind that as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Elaine will continue to be the person who adopts real solutions to real problems.

The United States agricultural community has gained a true problem solver in Elaine Trevino. “ Elaine thanked Almond Alliance members and partners for their support over the past three years. “It has been an honor to work for the Almond Alliance,” she said. “Together we took the Alliance to new heights and strengthened the voice of almonds in Sacramento and Washington DC. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to lead one of the best agricultural associations in the country. I look forward to staying in touch and learning about the Almond Alliance’s future successes.”

Bettencourt will assume her new role on December 1, 2021 and will work out of the Alliance’s Modesto office.

2021-11-29T11:01:56-08:00November 29th, 2021|

2019 Biological Opinion Lawsuit Grows

Ag Groups Weigh in on 2019 Biological Opinion Lawsuit

American Pistachio Growers, along with agricultural organizations, signed a letter to the Honorable Deb Haaland, Secretary U.S. Department of Interior, and the Honorable Wade Crowfoot, Secretary Natural Resources opposing new court filings in California’s lawsuit challenging the 2019 Biological Opinions on water projects.

The joint agricultural letter reads as follows:
We are opposed to new court filings in California’s lawsuit challenging the 2019 Biological Opinions for coordinated operations of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP). These filings include an unprecedented and unvetted interim operations plan for the upcoming water year in California.

As we have known – and has been highlighted over the last year and a half – facts and findings grounded on science need to be followed.  That ethos should also apply to the coordinated operations of the CVP and SWP.

We support continued efforts by your respective departments to work collaboratively to manage the operations of California’s major water infrastructure.  California communities are in desperate need of relief.  Many of our most disadvantaged communities are lacking reliable, clean drinking water.

In addition, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies are expediting enforcement actions to minimize negative impacts resulting from groundwater overdrafts.  We implore you to work together to alleviate these extreme circumstances, rather than exacerbate them.

We are willing to help provide solutions, along with bringing interested parties together to help the communities where we live, work, and grow to stay alive. Only by fostering partnership among all levels of government and among interested parties can we resolve California’s short- and long-term water issues.

2021-11-23T14:00:33-08:00November 23rd, 2021|

UC Davis Student Danielle Rutkowski Wins Top Honors At ESA Meeting

Danielle Rutkowski, UC Davis doctoral student, is framed by the award she won at the Entomological Society of America meeting. (Photo by the Entomological Society of America,

UC Davis Doctoral Candidate Wins High Honors at ESA Meeting

Doctoral student Danielle Rutkowski of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology received the  President’s Prize in her category for her research presentation at the recent Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting in Denver.Rutkowski delivered her 10-minute presentation on “Fungicide Impacts on Bumble Bees are Mediated via Effects on Bee-Associated Fungi” in the category, Plant-Insect Ecosystems: Ecology 3.” She studies with community ecologist Rachel Vannette, associate professor, and is also advised by community ecologist and professor Rick Karban.

At the ESA’s annual meetings, students are offered the opportunity to present their research and win prizes. They can compete in 10-minute papers (oral), posters, or infographics. First-place winners receive a one-year free membership in ESA, a $75 cash prize, and a certificate. Second-winners score a one-year free membership in ESA and a certificate.

Rutkowski’s abstract:

“Native bees including bumble bees are important pollinators but face threats from multiple sources, including agrochemical application. Declining bumble bee populations have been linked to fungicide application, which could directly affect the fungi often found in the stored food and GI tract of healthy bumble bees. Here, we test the hypothesis that fungicides impact bee health by disrupting bumble bee -fungi interactions.

Using two species, Bombus vosnesenskii and B. impatiens, we test the interactive effect of the fungicide propiconazole and fungal supplementation on the survival, reproduction, and microbiome composition of microcolonies (queenless colonies). We found that both bee species benefitted from fungi, but were differentially affected by fungicides.

In B. vosnesenskii, fungicide exposure decreased survival while fungal supplementation mitigated fungicide effects. For B. impatiens, fungicide application had no effect, but fungal supplementation improved survival and offspring production. Fungicides altered fungal microbiome composition in both species, and reduced fungal abundance in B. vosnesenskii microcolonies, but not in B. impatiens, where instead fungal addition actually decreased fungal abundance.

Our results highlight species-specific differences in both response to fungicides and the nature of fungal associations with bees, and caution the use of results obtained using one species to predict the responses of other species. These results suggest that fungicides can alter bee- fungi interactions with consequences for bee survival and reproduction, and suggest that exploring the mechanisms of such interactions, including interactions within bee-associated fungal communities, may offer insights into bumble bee biology and bumble bee conservation strategies. (Paper co-authors are associate professor Rachel Vannette, Eliza Litsey and Isabelle Maalouf)

Rutkowski completed her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, where she studied how the relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and their host plants impacts insect herbivores. She currently studies  “how bumble bees interact with the microbes, particularly fungi, in their environment, and how these relationships impact bee health.”

Two other UC Davis graduate students won second-place honors in their respective categories.

Maureen Page with the lab of pollinator ecologist Neal Williams, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology  and Nematology, scored second place for her presentation, “Optimizing Pollinator-friendly Plant Mixes to Simultaneously Support Wild and Managed Bees.” She competed in the category, Plant-Insect Ecosystems: Pollinators.

Kyle Lewald, with the College of Biological Sciences and the Integrated Genomics and Genetics Graduate Group, but a member of the lab of molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won second in his category, Systems, Evolution and Biodiversity: Genetics and Molecular Biology, with his speech on “Assembly of Highly Contiguous Diploid Genome for the Agricultural Pest, Tuta absoluta.” 

ESA, founded in 1889 and headquartered in Annapolis, Md., is the world’s largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and others in related disciplines. Its 7000 members are in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. 

2021-11-22T02:48:33-08:00November 22nd, 2021|

UC Educates Public on Cattle Production Cycles

New UC ANR Publication Educates Public on Cycles of Cattle Production, Grazing and Economics

By Mike Hsu, UCANR Senior Public Information Representative

 

The pandemic has brought more people into nearby parks and public lands for hiking, biking and other recreational activities. In areas like the East Bay Regional Parks – a San Francisco Bay Area park system totaling more than 120,000 acres where about 65% of the land is grazed by livestock – visitors might see goats, sheep and, most likely, cattle.

Those encounters with animals (or their manure) represent a prime opportunity for members of the public to learn about agriculture and the ecological benefits of rangelands, according to Larry Forero, a UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor.

“In addition to supporting the raising of meat and other by-products, rangelands provide a variety of ecosystem services, including vegetation and watershed management, fire fuel control, and, increasingly, management of habitat for rare and endangered species,” Forero explained, noting that working rangelands cover around 40% of California’s land area.

As livestock grazing (mostly by beef cattle) constitutes a significant portion of land use across the state, Forero – along with fellow UCCE advisors Sheila Barry and Stephanie Larson – recently authored a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources publication summarizing the mechanics of cattle production.

“Beef Cattle on California Annual Grasslands: Production Cycle and Economics,” published in October and available as a free download on the UC ANR Catalog, describes the seasonal phases of cattle production and the factors that impact ranchers’ financial calculations and management decisions.

“This concise publication walks through annual stock flows and calendar of operations and gives tables for estimating costs, return over cash, and gross income under various scenarios,” said Forero.

By covering care practices, infrastructure needs, grazing management and economics, Forero said the publication offers a succinct overview of beef cattle production and rangeland use for land managers, decision makers and the park interpreters (such as docents and guides) who educate visitors as well as the interested public.

“Even if only a relatively small percentage of park goers are interested, you still touch a lot of people with a document like this,” Forero explained.

He said he hopes park signage and QR codes will direct visitors to the publication for more information about the cattle and their seasonal movements.

“People often wonder where the cattle go when they leave the park and when they will return,” co-author Sheila Barry said. “The cattle may go to grass or feed yards in other places in California or even out of state.”

But, as this new UC ANR publication explains, the cattle production cycle turns over anew.

“There will be more cattle next fall, I promise,” Barry said.

2021-11-18T18:01:19-08:00November 18th, 2021|

Pistachios Crop Is Big for and Off Year

Pistachios Off-Year Crop Comes in Big this Season

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

  Pistachios are alternate bearing, meaning one year a heavy crop, the next year a lighter crop. But this year, an off-year came in very strong, according to Richard Matoian,  President of American Pistachio Growers. “It came as a surprise to everyone that this crop for 2021 is as large as it is. We certainly don’t have the final numbers in, but everyone is expecting it to end up somewhere between 1.15 to 1.2 billion pounds, which would be larger than the record crop we had in 2020, which was just over a billion pounds,” noted Matoian.

Matoian said they’ll have a better picture of this new crop in the next few weeks. And we asked Matoian what the theory is, what could cause this off-year crop to be such an on-year volume of crop? “So, what we saw in 2021 is that the individual nut size is smaller, and that has to do with the warm spring that we had and in some of the hot weather conditions, probably the lack of water in many of the growing areas as well. But despite the smaller-sized nuts, the trees produced at a pretty high level,” explained Matoian.

Matoian said he’s been talking to growers about it. “Growers in the on-year in 2020, didn’t have as large an on-year crop, and so that’s why we think that the trees just had enough capacity to produce at pretty high levels this year,” he noted. And of course, adding to the increased production was thousands a new acres of pistachio crop coming into production this year.

2021-11-17T06:25:27-08:00November 17th, 2021|
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