Roger Isom on New Legislation and PG&E

Big Question Marks for New Legislation and California Agriculture

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

Californians are still trying to get a feel for new legislation, while agriculturalists wonder what they’ll be up against this year. According to Roger Isom, President and CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association and California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, issues pertaining to water and PG&E are among the top concerns for Valley growers.

Last year, there was potential for a water fee and fertilizer tax combination that ended up not passing, but left growers to question what they will be faced with in the future.

“With the water situation the way it is, from a supply standpoint to the nitrate issue and drinking water, we know there’s going to be legislation on that,” Isom said.

Other than the continued concern of water, Isom added that perhaps one of the biggest question marks in California agriculture is how they will handle a potential PG&E bankruptcy. He explained that the state’s rates are already the highest in the country due to gas laws and renewable energy mandates, and he fears that an increase will only make a difficult situation almost impossible.

“We’re already looking at ratepayers being faced with huge liability from the fires last year. When you throw the Camp Fire on top of it, what does that mean for us?” he concluded

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Roger Isom: Probable Electric Rate Hikes Raise Concern for Ag

California Agriculture Concerned Over PG&E Increases, Overtime Rules

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

Water, labor, and air quality issues in California keep growers’ plates full of challenges, but with probable PG&E rate increases in the future, it seems they can’t catch a break. Roger Isom, President and CEO of the Western Agriculture Processors Association and California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, is among those wondering how the industry is going to compete.

“We’ve been paying for a lot of those safety upgrades. What happened? I mean, we’ve got to let the investigation take place, but to saddle rate payers with that amount of money, we just can’t do it,” Isom said of the threat of rate increases.

Roger Isom, president and CEO, Western Processors Association
Roger Isom, president and CEO, Western Processors Association (source: LinkedIn)

At the same time, the industry is still battling the effects of the Brown administration’s ruling on overtime.

“There are farm workers in 45 states that could work 20 hours a day, seven days a week, and never trigger overtime. We have to compete with that, and that’s just unacceptable,” Isom said.

Isom is optimistic about new appointments in California administration, though.

“You’ve got Jared Blumenfeld, who’s the new CalEPA Secretary. He was actually extremely helpful over there when we were working on incentives for replacing pumps and tractors,” Isom explained.

Isom also gave credits to Wade Crowfoot, who was on the previous administration and helped with port shutdowns.

“He’s going to hit up resources, which obviously with the water situation is a very critical agency for us. Seeing somebody over there that could be helpful is important,” he said.

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CCGGA and WAPA Not Happy with Abrupt Ending of Water Negotiations

What Happened is Unknown, But Ending Water Negotiations In a Year Like This is Unconscionable

 

On Friday, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations (CCGGA)/Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) President /CEO Roger Isom reacted to the withdrawal of water negotiations on federal drought legislation by stating:

Roger A. Isom, CCGGA/WAPA President/CEO
Roger A. Isom, CCGGA/WAPA President/CEO

It is unconscionable to walk away from talks at this point in time. In a year where hundreds of thousands of acres of productive farmland received zero surface water, this delay is unacceptable. Thousands of acres lay fallow and productive orchards were ripped out – this is unacceptable.

The jobs that are associated with this acreage go far beyond the individual farmer and his family. It affects farm workers and their families, the fuel delivery personnel and their families, the custom harvesters and their families, the bankers and their families, the insurance companies and their families, the equipment dealers and their families. The list goes on and one thing remains the same. The lack of water is devastating. There are cities in the San Joaquin Valley that are without water for even the basic necessities. This is not a time when politics should come before the needs of the people.

While we applaud the bipartisanship that went into the serious negotiations that were undertaken, the fact remains that there will be no legislation this year. Despite assurances that this will be taken up early in the next session it is simply too late. Another planting season will have gone by. Without a miracle winter, more acreage will be removed. Consequently, more farmworkers will be laid off or simply not hired. There will be even less work for the fuel suppliers, harvesters, banks, chemical supply companies, equipment dealers, and others that rely upon a viable agricultural industry.

We don’t know what happened or why the negotiations were discontinued, but it doesn’t matter. Simply put, something has to be done to provide more water at these critical times. Farmers have done their part by investing billions converting irrigation systems to automated, high-efficiency, low water use systems, such as buried drip on cotton. It’s time for Congress to do theirs.“

The California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations are trade organizations representing cotton growers and cotton gins throughout California. The Western Agricultural Processors Association is a trade organization representing tree nut hullers and processors of almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. All three organizations are operated and managed in the same offices in Fresno, California.

 

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