Ian LeMay is New President of California Fresh Fruit Association

Former President George Radanovich Goes Back to Washington 

 News Release

This week, Randy Giumarra, the Chairman of the California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) Board of Directors, announced that Ian LeMay will serve as the new president of CFFA. LeMay will succeed George Radanovich, who has held the position since 2016 and will be leaving CFFA to promote sound ag labor policy in Washington, D.C.

Ian LeMay

Giumarra said, “Ian’s appointment is a reflection of our Board’s commitment to establishing long-term leadership for our industry.”

He continued, “Our board and I have worked closely with Ian over the past four years. We are confident in his abilities and look forward to his leadership. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank George for his time, leadership, and impact that he has made over the last three years. George’s service is greatly appreciated by our entire membership.”

LeMay has dedicated his career to supporting and advocating for the continued success of California agriculture. Since 2015, LeMay has served as CFFA’s Director of Member Relations and Communications.

From 2011 to 2015, LeMay served as the District Director for Congressman Jim Costa, who represents California’s 16th Congressional District. As District Director, LeMay managed the Congressman’s district staff and advised the Congressman on a number of issues, including agriculture, water, and transportation. Prior to working for Congressman Costa, LeMay worked as a California Market Specialist for the Lindsay Corporation. LeMay is a recent graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 48).

California Fresh Fruit Assocation“I am humbled and appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve the members of the California Fresh Fruit Association in a new capacity,” LeMa said. “I came to the Association four years ago because I believe in its mission, deeply respect its history and see infinite potential in advocating for the permanent fresh fruit growers and shippers of California. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe two great Association leaders in Barry Bedwell and George Radanovich, and thank them for their commitment to bettering our industry. The challenges that face us are many. These have not been easy years for our industry, but I remain confident in the future of California agriculture and our opportunity to advocate for meaningful policy with a unified voice.”

LeMay will begin his tenure as CFFA President on June 1st. Ian and his wife, Molly, reside in Fresno with their two children, Emery Rose and Ellison James, and will welcome their third child this August.

ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION

For more than eighty (80) years the California Fresh Fruit Association has been the primary government relations organization serving the fresh fruit industry. It is a voluntary public policy organization that works on behalf of our members—growers, shippers, marketers, and associates—on issues that specifically affect member commodities: fresh grapes, kiwis, pomegranates, cherries, blueberries, peaches, pears, apricots, nectarines, interspecific varieties, plums, apples and persimmons. It is the Association’s responsibility to serve as a liaison between regulatory and legislative authorities by acting as the unified voice of our members. The challenges are countless for growers, shippers, and marketers as they strive to remain viable in an ever-changing market. Increasing regulatory requirements make it difficult to flourish, regardless of the size of the operation.

The Association’s dedicated staff advocates daily in the best interest of our members to ensure that regulators and legislators are using sound science and accurate information when considering laws or rules that will be imposed on industry members. However, aside from the variety of issues the Association works on, there is an important networking component. As each company has its own business interest, the membership as a whole shares a common, vested interest in the long-term health of tree fruit, fresh grape and berry communities in California.

California Fresh Fruit Association: Top Issues in 2019

Immigration and Labor Cost are Big Issues

News Release

The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) recently announced their Top Issues for 2019. Members were surveyed in December 2018 and ranked the top issues for CFFA to concentrate on in 2019.

George Rodanovich

President of the California Fresh Fruit Association, George Radanovich, stated “As in years past, our membership has given us strong direction in identifying their top priorities for 2019. The issues of labor, water, and food safety, will lead our list of issues. CFFA will continue to serve as the primary liaison between regulatory and legislative authorities by acting as the unified voice for our members on these and many other issues.”

Here are the results:

1) Federal Immigration Policies Addressing Current and Future Labor Force

2) Increasing Wage Costs (Base Wages/OT Thresholds)

3) Water Supply Availability and Curtailment

4) Immigration Enforcement (ICE)

5) Groundwater Management Requirements (S.G.M.A.)

6) Labor Regulatory Compliance

7) Water Quality Requirements and Clean Drinking Water Liability

8) Federal and State Food Safety Compliance Requirements

9) Health Care Costs (Policy Costs/Paid Sick Leave)

10)  Plant Health Materials (Pesticide, Herbicides, Fungicides, etc.)

As always, it will be the Association’s goal to work on behalf of its members to address these issues and many more, in an effort to create a better working environment for their businesses.

Kroger Backs off “Net 90” Payment Plan to Produce Shippers

Produce Industry Gets Praise for Unified Voice on the Matter

News Release

The California Fresh Fruit Association is pleased with Kroger’s recent announcement that produce shippers will not have to comply with its new “Net 90” payment plan.

California Fresh Fruit Association President George Radanovich stated, “We appreciate Kroger’s acknowledgment that the ‘Net 90’ payment plan didn’t work for the produce industry. We stand by our position that Kroger’s original push to implement its plan was wrong and illegal.”

To force suppliers to forfeit their rights under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), an act created specifically to protect the perishable fresh fruit industry, was unconscionable and should never have been proposed.

Radanovich continued, “We would like to commend the fresh produce industry for coming together as a unified voice for our industry. Today we held the line on an important issue.”

Radanovich concluded, “As I’ve stated before, the fresh produce industry has been a good partner to Kroger; we appreciate that Kroger remembered that partnership and fixed the mess it created.”

California Fresh Fruit Association: Kroger Must Not Adopt Net 90 Payment Plan

Kroger’s Net 90 Payment Intention Will Hurt California Farmers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The California Fresh Fruit Association told California Ag Today recently that they do not want to see any relaxation or easing of Kroger Supermarket Chain in what they announced as a 90-day payment intention for all vendors.

Ian LeMay

“What our industry wants to see is Kroger to withdraw this proposal and to go back to the 30 day payment period,” said Ian LeMay, Director of Member Relations and Communications with the California Fresh Fruit Association in Fresno.

Kroger is the largest supermarket chain in the U.S,. spanning the East, South, and Midwest, and they have stated that they want a net 90 day payment plan on all vendors, including the farmers in California, which provides up to 70% of the fruits and vegetables and 100% of the nut crops that consumers enjoy throughout the year.

As to why Kroger is going this way? It’s most likely to help on their cash flow.

“That’s not necessarily the prerogative or needs to be the interest of our shippers. The shippers have a payroll to make and other bills to pay and they don’t need to carry that credit for Kroger,” LeMay said. “It’s just not good business and not to mention, we’re dealing with multiple commodities with many of our commodities, with a harvest that does not last many weeks. I mean, cherries here in California are six weeks long, so they’re supposed to carry that credit longer than their own season? It just, that doesn’t make sense.”

And making matters worse is that Kroger is even asking farmers to forfeit their rights under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, created by Congress to specifically protect the perishable fresh fruit industry. The act states that payments must be made in 30 days.

“Their answer to that … [is] that they’re partnering with Citibank and that … if you want an expedited payment, then you would have to basically pay upwards of .72 percent on the money you’re owed, so you’re actually going to have to pay money to get money back,” LeMay explained.

LeMay said he thinks when two people are doing business with each other, there’s an expectation that they will keep agreements between each other.

“This is not what California shippers agreed upon. Kroger wants to force this on then. We would like to see Kroger withdraw and hold true to PACA,” he said.

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.”

Overtime Bill AB 1066 Heads to Governor’s Desk

California Assembly Sends AB 1066 Overtime Bill to Governor

By Patrick Cavanaugh Farm News Director

 

The California Assembly voted 44 to 32, yesterday, August 29, in favor of a bill that would make California the first in the country to give farmworkers overtime pay after working 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week instead of current law that mandates agriculture workers earn overtime after 10 hours per day or 60 hours per week.

 

CFFA Logo

Because farmworkers are unable to work some days due to weather or harvest schedules, they have historically preferred to work as many hours as possible on any given day. Now farmers may be forced to restrict employees from working more than 8 hours per day to avoid the costly overtime payroll, which would severely hurt their financial bottom line.

 

The bill, which has already cleared the State Senate, now moves on to Governor Jerry Brown, who has until September 31st to sign or veto the bill.

 

George Radanovich, president of the Fresno-based California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) that represents many farmers who rely on hand labor, stated, “It’s a clear example of people who live on black top and cement and who never talk to people in the vineyards or in the fields. They think they are helping the farmworker, and they are not. They’re making it harder for the farmworker and for the farmer,” said Radanovich.

 

Roger Isom, president of the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) and the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA), said AB 1066 just places additional burdens on the farmer. “When you combine this Ag overtime legislation with the minimum wage increase and all of the other labor issues—the workers comp costs that are imposed on growers—it makes us noncompetitive,” Isom said. “On top of that you add the regulatory costs from the different issues like the truck rule; we can’t compete.”

WAPA-Logo

 

“There isn’t anybody out there who wouldn’t want to pay the workers more than what they’re getting today, or even that overtime,” said Isom. “But consider that California is one of only 5 states that even pays overtime, and none of them pay it after only 10 hours. We already had the most stringent overtime regulations for farmworkers in the country before it was ever adopted. Now, we’ve made it worse; we are going to have the highest minimum wage of any farm state out there, so how do we compete?”

 

CCGGA logo

Isom commented, “This last week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was actually calling Assembly members in the State, urging them to support this bill. We were outraged,” Isom said. “When he was Governor of the State of Iowa, his own state had the lowest Ag wages and has no Ag overtime. The majority of our states, 45 states, have no overtime. You could work 16 hours, 20 hours, and not be paid any overtime.”

 

Isom noted that supporters of AB 1066 are very shortsighted. He predicts the law will only reduce the number of available working hours available for farm employees and thus decrease their earnings. Isom hopes Governor Brown will see this bill as an added negative impact tied to the recently passed increases to California’s minimum wage.

 

Agriculture leaders are calling for all concerned to put pressure on Governor Brown to veto AB 1066 by Emailing or phoning constantly.

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

email: governor@governor.ca.gov


(Featured photo: Roger Isom, president of Western Ag Processors Association and the California Cotton Ginners Association)