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.

Governor Signs AB 1066 Overtime Bill for Farmworkers

Governor Signs AB 1066 With Good Intentions

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director and Laurie Greene, Editor

 

TODAY, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1066, the overtime bill for farmworkers, despite pushback from agricultural groups and farmworkers in the state. Ian LeMay, director of member relations & communications of the Fresno-based California Fresh Fruit Association, anticipates that not only will farmers in the state lose, but farmworkers, exports, and possibly consumers will lose as well. 

For years, California farm employees accrued overtime pay only after working a 10-hour day, instead of an 8-hour day, like most other employees in California. AB 1066 changes the overtime rules for farmworkers by gradually lowering overtime thresholds in steps over the next four years so farmworkers will eventually earn overtime after an 8-hour day.

The California farm industry has appreciated the prior overtime policy, according to LeMay, because agriculture is not a typical 52-week type of job. The workload of farming ebbs and flows with the seasons, weather, cultural practices and tasks.Farmworkers

For instance, harvesting of crops such as strawberries, citrus and table grapes, normally occurs during short 2- to 3-week periods in the state and is accompanied by an increase in demand for labor. As one might expect, the need for labor declines during non-harvest and non-planting phases, to the extent that farmworkers may endure periods of no work, and hence, no pay. So farmworkers have appreciated the opportunity to work extra hours and earn overtime during busier phases.

Labor costs for California growers of all fresh fruit, avocados and many vegetable crops will be most affected by this change. “This is going to have a very, very big impact on crops that require a high degree of labor like our stone fruit, table grapes and the rest,” said LeMay, “It’s definitely going to change the way our members have to approach doing business,” he said.

“When you compare it to the other states in the union that we are going to have to compete with,” LeMay elaborated, “when you take into account recent changes in minimum wage, piece-rate compensation, increasing farm regulations and now overtime, it’s going to be very difficult to compete not only in a domestic market, but also internationally. That’s the disappointing part about this.”

LeMay also explained that over the last 40 years, the California legislature has crafted labor law to create the highest worker standards in the U.S. “California was the only state in the union that had a daily threshold for overtime of [only] 10 hours per day, and we were one of four in the union that had a weekly threshold for overtime of [only] 60 hours. So in terms of ag overtime, California was already the gold standard.”

And, although lawmakers intended AB 1066 to help farmworkers, LeMay noted, “ultimately, the measure will impact farmworkers the most because farmers in the number one Ag state will find a way to keep its bottom line from eroding any further.

“California farmers will need to solve the puzzle of how to achieve the same amount of work in fewer hours per day,” said LeMay. “They will consider hiring double crews, increasing mechanization in packing facilities, orchards and vineyards, and reducing farm acreage to match their workforce. Or, for those commodities that require increased labor, you could see a transition to commodities like nut crops that use less labor.”

LeMay explained that during down periods on the farm, farmworkers generally collect unemployment, which is based on gross annual income. Now, by giving the farmer an incentive to reduce worker hours, farmworkers’ unemployment compensation may decrease as well.

Furthermore, for the consumer who desires fresh local food from small farms, the phase-in schedule AB 1066 provides to smaller companies is actually a competitive disadvantage. “While AB 1066 allows small farmers—those with fewer than 25 employeesmore time to phase in changes,” LeMay asked, “why would a farmworker stay at small farm under the prolonged 60-hour per week overtime threshold rule, when he or she could work at a larger farm under the phased-in 40-hour per week threshold?”

ab-1066-provisions

 

Are consumers willing to pay for increased labor costs on the farm? “As the saying goes,” LeMay quipped, “generally farmers aren’t price makers, they are price takers. Consumers are usually unwilling to pay extra for their produce, so farmers usually have to absorb increased costs.”

“Economically,” LeMay summarized, “the legislature has taken us from high labor standards to economically disadvantaging farmers and farmworkers. Lawmakers are not paying enough attention to keeping California companies viable, sustainable and successful.”