Who Safeguards CA Farm Workers’ Rights? # 7 – CA Supreme Court

CA Supreme Court Hears Case of Gerawan Farming, Inc. vs. UFW/ ALRB

 

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

 

Gerawan Farm Workers Show Company IDs and Paystubs (Identification has been blurred out for privacy reasons.)

A significant labor hearing occurred at the California Supreme Court (Court) in San Francisco yesterday, the day after Labor Day, between the team of the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB or Board) versus Fresno County-based Gerawan Farming, Inc. over self-determination. At stake is the right of farm workers to determine if they want to be represented by the union or not. Under scrutiny is the Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC) provision of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act that paves the road for the UFW to force unionization on all farm workers.

 

Anthony Raimondo, of Fresno-based Raimondo & Associates, lawyer for Gerawan farm worker spokesperson, Silvia Lopez

“Although Gerawan farm workers attempted to participate in this hearing, as well as other hearings, they were denied legal participation in the trial by the state of California and by the UFW,” according to Anthony Raimondo, of Fresno-based Raimondo & Associates and lawyer for Gerawan farm worker spokesperson, Silvia Lopez. Nevertheless, hundreds of Gerawan employees in blue t-shirts attended the proceedings and protested outside the courthouse, lending their voices, exercising their free speech and showing their legitimate Gerawan company ID cards and payroll stubs.

 

Dan Gerawan, who co-owns Gerawan Farming, Inc., with his brother Mike and father Ray, commented on the court hearing just after it ended. “It is frightening to see the deference that the Court gives to the ALRB. Everyone in our industry and all farm workers should be scared by the deference this Court gives to a Board that is clearly not interested in the employees’ best interests.” Describing his perceptions in the courtroom, Gerawan said, “It was Orwellian to hear the government attorneys argue that they are defending self-determination, when in fact, what they are doing is the exact opposite.”

 

“That said,” he continued, “I am encouraged by the questions I heard from the Court. They obviously are taking this very seriously, and I’m hopeful that they will side with our employees and us.”

 

Silvia Lopez, Gerawan farm worker spokesperson

Members of the UFW were also present at the Court in red t-shirts, though only one person claimed to be a Gerawan employee. Marc Grossman, spokesperson for the United Farm Workers of America and communications director of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, said that the Gerawan operation should be unionized because the UFW was elected in 1990 by Gerawan farm workers and certified in 1992 by the ALRB.

 

However, the UFW did not successfully reach a contract for the Gerawan farm workers, and therefore did not collect dues. Furthermore, the UFW abandoned the Gerawan farm workers for nearly 20 years.

 

Grossman said the Court discussed today the long-standing principle that a union is certified until it is decertified. Workers have a right to decertify the union but it has to be the workers—not the company. It is patently illegal for an employer to have anything to do with determining union representation by his or her employees.

Marc Grossman, spokesperson for the United Farm Workers of America

 

When asked to account for UFW abandonment of Gerawan farm workers, Grossman said, “Bogus issue! The UFW never abandoned the workers at Gerawan. It repeatedly attempted to negotiate with Gerawan. At every step, it was met with virulent resistance by the company. It became apparent that only a law that would allow neutral state mediators to be brought in to hammer out a union agreement when the grower refused to do so would be the only course, and we followed it.”

 

Grossman asked us to read the September 5 ‘News from UFW’ press release he provided, entitled, “Giant grower challenging law giving farm workers the union contracts they voted for already owes its workers $10 million under a state-imposed union contract.”  Here are excerpts:

 

What about Gerawan’s claim the union “abandoned” the workers for 20 years?

Even before the Mandatory Mediation statute was adopted in 2002, the ALRB and the courts consistently rejected employer claims that unions should not be deemed workers’ bargaining representatives if they allegedly “abandoned” them. It is long-established law that a union remains certified as bargaining representative until workers—and only workers—vote to decertify it. At the time of the law’s passage in 2002, Gerawan was one of the 243 companies where farm workers voted for the UFW but the companies never agreed to contracts. (See UFW-Gerawan chronology)

1995-2002: Gerawan workers and the UFW continued working to improve conditions while the ALRB stopped enforcing the farm labor law under Republican political appointees.

2002: The Mandatory Media law was enacted. The agricultural industry mounted a major constitutional challenge.

2006: The Third District Court of Appeals in Sacramento upheld the Mandatory Mediation law. The industry appealed to the state Supreme Court, which refused to take the case. The industry declined an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court—and the law’s constitutionality was settled.

2012: The UFW sent a new negotiations request to Gerawan. At least 10 bargaining sessions failed to produce a union contract.

March 2013: The UFW requested mandatory mediation at Gerawan with the ALRB.

 

The above chronology vaguely refers to UFW involvement between 1995 and 2002 that remains unsubstantiated. UFW contact with Gerawan farm workers appears to have been reestablished in 2012.

Dan Gerawan, co-owner Gerawan Farming, Inc.
Dan Gerawan, co-owner Gerawan Farming, Inc.

The ALRB did supervise a sanctioned election for Gerawan farm workers to decertify the UFW on November 5, 2013; however, the ballots were collected, sealed and never counted.

When told that UFW representative Grossman said they never walked away, Gerawan asked, “If they didn’t abandon, then where were they for almost two decades? They did not phone us or send us a fax. They did not show up on our property. They did not inquire on behalf any of our employees. They did not file an unfair labor practice. They did nothing during that time. They abandoned our employees.”

Ron Barsamian, attorney for Gerawan Farming, Inc.

 

One of Gerawan’s attorneys, Ron Barsamian, managing shareholder of Fresno-based Barsamian & Moody, stated, “I’m very encouraged. I think the Justices’ questions indicated that they understood the issue we were raising. I think they certainly read the briefs. I think they understand the difficulty in how locked-in workers, such as the [Gerawan] ones behind us, can be under the way this law works: if you have an MMC contract, [the workers] never have an opportunity to decertify the union. Even the questions asked by the justices that we expected to be against us were great, and I certainly loved the answers that Mr. Schwartz gave.”

David Schwarz, attorney for Gerawan Farming, Inc.

 

Barsamian was referring to another Gerawan attorney, David Schwarz, from the law firm, Irell & Manella, who addressed the central issues of the case: “I think it was a full and fair hearing. I think the Court—all members—are deeply concerned about the unaccounted for two-decade [UFW] absence, an unaccountable power given to a mediator [ALRB], and uncheckable power given to the union [UFW] to compel one grower and one group of employees into this process. Ultimately, I think the justices were very much focused on and troubled by the inability of the [ALRB] agency to step in in a situation of gross abandonment where a contract is being imposed by that agency.”

 

The California Supreme Court typically releases it decisions and commentaries after 90 days.

Protesting are Gerawan farm workers (in blue) and UFW members (in red)
Protesting are Gerawan farm workers (in blue) and UFW members (in red)

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Who Safeguards CA Farm Workers’ Rights? Part 6 – Facts vs. PR

Refuting the Absurdities of UFW’s Press Release – Setting the Record Straight

The following document, “Refuting the Absurdities of UFW’s Press Release – Seting the Record Straight” is a detailed response by Gerawan Farming, Inc. to a recent UFW press release.

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Frieda’s Karen Caplan Fears No Fruit

Frieda’s  – A Legacy of Introducing Americans to Exotic Fruits & Vegetables

 

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Karen Caplan, CEO and president, Frieda’s Inc., the 54 year old family business that first introduced kiwi fruit to America in 1962, recounted, “We’ve probably introduced close to 200 exotic fruits and vegetables to American consumers, mostly through supermarkets, but also through restaurants. We continue to introduce new and exotic fruits and vegetables. You’ve got the kiwi fruit; you’ve got sun-dried tomatoes; you’ve got habanero chilies, spaghetti squash, alfalfa sprouts, hothouse cucumbers, shallots, purple sweet potatoes, and purple potatoes.

PurpleKiwiBook_Karen Caplan

 

Caplan knows consumers love to try new products and new foods. “We really credit the TV Food Networks,” she explained. “If you’re watching ‘Chopped’ one night or any of the other food shows and you see these exotic fruits and vegetables like our purple snow peas as a secret ingredient, and you watch a couple of chefs cook with them, you say, ‘Wow that’s really exciting. I never would have picked that up at the grocery store.’ Consumers go to their local grocery store and find those products. It works in a synergistic way, but we continue to have new varieties of fruits and vegetables to introduce.”

 

Caplan continued, “It is wonderful that American supermarkets seem to realize consumers are passionate about trying these new foods. I think they realize that if they don’t offer the exotic fruits and vegetables, like tropical fruits, different varieties of citrus fruits and some of the peppers, consumers are going to go online and either order them as meals through Blue Apron or purchase the products on Amazon Fresh.”

Fear No Fruit, The Frieda Caplan Documentary
Fear No Fruit, The Frieda Caplan Documentary

 

At Frieda’s, we represent about 1,000 different suppliers, mostly farmers. About half of them are in California; the rest are outside of California and around the world. I think the biggest challenges shared by all our farmers, are first of all—water and how to use it efficiently, and then number two—how do we find the labor to pick our products.

 

When asked how farmers are doing, Caplan replied, “I in awe of farmers. I heard a peach and plum and grape grower speak this morning about his passion. He said, ‘I love this business. I could stop growing this product right now and make more money by putting in nuts, which I could harvest automatically.’”

 

Caplan continued, “I think what’s so admirable about farmers is they do have a passion for the land and for their products. We’re seeing resurgence in young people wanting to come into the business because everyone has to eat of course; but they love the lifestyle that goes along with it and the work-life balance.


Frieda Rapoport Caplan, Ph.D., founder & chair of the Board, Frieda’s Inc. established Frieda’s Finest/Produce Specialties Inc. in 1962, in the male-dominated Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. One of very few women in the produce industry at the time, and the first to own and operate a U.S. produce business, Frieda debuted with a purple sign, which later became the company’s signature color, and her premier product was fresh brown mushrooms – an unusual specialty at that time. She quickly developed a reputation for buying and selling new and unusual produce specialties.

Frieda’s two daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, head up the family company and the third generation, Karen’s eldest daughter Alex Jackson, has linked in too. 


 

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Plea for Farmers to Engage with Consumers on Social Media

Joe Del Bosque’s Plea for Farmers to Engage with Consumers on Social Media 

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

While many farmers toil in the fields, consumers expend their energies on social media in the growing disconnect between farms and food. Joe Del Bosque, owner of Del Bosque Farms, Inc., and Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Agriculturalist of the Year, is one of the many farmers who has begun to appreciate the importance for farmers to engage with consumers on social media accounts. “Initially, I got involved to reach out to my customers,” Del Bosque said, “and make a connection so people would know who their farmer was and where their food came from. It’s invaluable because people really want to know not only where their food comes from and from whom, they want to know how they grow it. They too want to make a connection, and it’s up to us farmers to reach out to them because they won’t know how to find us.”

The use of social media over the last decade has increased tenfold with 65 percent of adults now actively using social media accounts according to “Social Media Usage: 2005-2015,” an October 2015 Pew Research Center study by Andrew Perrin. “So, if every farmer could reach out to two or three or 500 people,” explained Del Bosque, “we could reach a lot of people out there.”

For members of the agriculture industry looking to get involved in social media, Del Bosque advises they consider Facebook and Twitter first as they are probably the easiest two. “With Twitter, if you open up an account, you can start following a few people who are active. You could even retweet what they say out to your audience. That would be an easy way to get started.”

A July 2013 article on BufferSocial titled, “10 Surprising Social Media Statistics that will make you Rethink Your Strategy,” by Belle Beth Cooper, revealed that Twitter’s fastest growing demographic was the 55-64 year age bracket, jumping 79 percent from 2012-2013. On Facebook the fastest growing demographic in 2013 was the 45-54 year age bracket, up 46 percent from 2012-2013. Cooper recommended reaching adults 18-34 via YouTube, which reaches more adults in that age range than any cable network.

____________________

To learn the ropes on social media, please view previous issues of The Golden Agricast:

October eNewsletter

November eNewsletter

Consider a free subscription here: The Golden Agricast- A Monthly eNewsletter.

____________________

Links:

Cooper, Belle Beth, “10 Surprising Social Media Statistics that will make you Rethink Your Strategy,” BufferSocial, July 2013.

Del Bosque Farms, Inc.

Perrin, Andrew, “fa,” Pew Research Center, October 2015.

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Van Groningen & Sons Adopts Solar

Van Groningen & Sons Becomes Early Adopter of Solar Meter Aggregation

Family owned and operated since 1922, Van Groningen & Sons, Inc. has just completed construction of a 1 Megawatt PV Solar Energy System at their packing, cooling and processing facility located at their company headquarters in Manteca. Designed and installed by Renewable Technologies, Inc. (RTI) of Stockton, CA., the solar system is one of the first to take advantage of the Net Meter Aggregation Policy recently approved by the California Public Utility Commission, allowing for multiple meters to be offset by the production of a single PV solar production system.

RTI worked closely with Paul Hiemstra, warehouse manager at the facility to aggregate 26 electric meters, satisfying the electrical demand of the facility and numerous irrigation pumps across several hundreds of acres of farmland.

The system will generate over 1.4 million kilowatt hours of clean, reliable energy annually and sits atop two large processing buildings. The solar kilowatt hour production will offset approximately 1,034 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions produced by 218 passenger cars, the electricity usage of 142 homes or the carbon sequestered by 848 acres of U.S. forest in one year. This project marks yet another step forward in Van Groningen’s efforts toward sustainability, helping to ensure the continuance of the family farming tradition for many years to come.

Van Groningen & Sons, Inc. is closely linked to the growing, shipping and distribution of melons, sweet corn, nuts, pumpkins and fall décor. Their formula is to offer the highest quality products while conducting business with honesty, integrity and responsibility, a recipe that’s certain to last long into the future.

__________________

Links: Van Groningen & Sons

Photo Source:  Renewable Technologies, Inc., Ryan Van Groningen

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Cornell Kasbergen On Federal Milk Marketing Order

Continued Coverage of Milk Hearing

Dairyman Cornell Kasbergen: We Need Federal Milk Marketing Order

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Cornell Kasbergen, a dairyman in Tulare County, is fed up with the flawed California State Milk Marketing Order. So much so, that he and other dairymen and women have a great desire to switch to the Federal Marketing Order.

This idea is presently front-and-center in Clovis, CA as USDA officials are holding an historic hearing that may extend into early November.

“It started three to four years ago when our milk prices were dramatically less than those in the rest of the country, and we wanted to get our industry on a level playing field. It has been a lot of work getting the co-ops together, but we are just at the beginning of this whole process.”

Having the USDA here is, in itself, a big beginning,

Kasbergen has worked hard to drum up interest in the idea. “When I was a co-op board member at Land O’Lakes, Inc. [a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative milk cooperative], we worked with other dairy co-ops and their members to get educated.  We discovered, for the last three to four years, California’s whey value in its milk pricing formula deviated from national prices, and California producers were losing money. Once we realized we were leaving a lot of money on the table—over a million dollars a day—it opened people’s eyes. That’s why we are having this hearing.”

“The California Department of Food and Agriculture intentionally left the state’s whey prices lower than the rest of the nation, and though we’ve been petitioning them over and over again to rectify the issue, they have failed,” said Kasbergen. “That’s why we have gone this route in getting our milk prices formulated by the federal government rather than by the state. Our state has really let us down.”

“The CDFA has taken hundreds of millions of dollars out of the dairy farmers’ pockets, the loss is killing the dairy industry in California,” said Kasbergen.

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New Partners Offer MRL Database

Agrian and Bryant Christie Inc. Partner Up for MRL Database

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Assistant Editor, California Ag Today

They’re called “Maximum Residue Levels”(MRLs) and nearly all crop protection products have them; however, keeping track of MRLs for export is difficult. To this end, two companies have joined together to provide an MRL Database, globalmrl.com, to help the Ag industry comply with MRL regulations. Bryant Christie Inc. of Seattle, helps open, maintain and expand international markets by eliminating trade barriers for Ag exports. Agrian, Inc., a Fresno-based service-oriented company, provides subscription-based online information on most crop protection and nutrient products.

Nishan Majarian
Nishan Majarian, chief executive officer and cofounder of Agrian Inc.

Nishan Majarian, ceo and cofounder of Agrian, reported, “Several years ago we had a large ag retail customer who became concerned about MRLs and global export. We developed recomendation writing tools that ensure the safe application of crop protection materials, and MRL’s are an extension of that. We did not have an MRL database, so we called around and found out that Bryant Christie had the premier global MRL database.”

So Majarian reached out to James Christie, president and managing director of Bryant Christie, “And we began the process of partnering for a hybrid system that uses both his data and our data to ensure the safe application of a material, and give insight into the export requirements of that crop.”

James Christie
James Christie, president of Bryant Christie, Inc.

James Christie added, “At Bryant Christie, we work on preventing trade violations, such as chemical and food additive violations, and on ameliorating consequences when they occur. So for us, this collaboration makes so much sense. If we can avoid violations, we can help the ag industry considerably.”

And those consequences can cost ag exporters significant amounts of money, “The consequences range from a single cargo load lost to a violation,” said Christie, “to bad public relations, to having an entire commodity prohibited from entering a foreign country.”

They developed an MRL database, a one-stop resource, Christie explained, “in 1992, with our first client for the hop industry. It is just the best way to keep and manage the information. As database technology advances, it’s made even more sense to have it in that format.”

Majarian said the successful partnership with Bryant Christie is a matter of being at the right place, at the right time. “We think domestic and global compliance are growing in irreversible trends,” Majarian elaborated, “and as more field-level users move to digital record-keeping, these tools and the database will only grow in importance over time. We are excited to be on the cutting edge of online technical solutions. Sometimes I call it the ‘bleeding edge’ because it is a little painful to be innovators.”

Resource Links:

Bryant Christie, Inc.

Agrian, Inc.

Global MRL Database

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United Fresh Foundation Offers Produce Solutions to Schools at 2014 School Nutrition Conference

The United Fresh Foundation is providing expert assistance to schools seeking to serve more fresh produce with the first-ever Fresh Produce Pavilion at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference in Boston, July 13-16.

The 1600 sq. ft. pavilion features an “Ask the Experts: Produce Solutions Center” and produce exhibits that establish a destination area on the trade show floor focused exclusively on promoting fresh fruits and vegetables.

The “Ask the Experts: Produce Solutions Center,” sponsored by PRO*ACT, features produce distributors from around the country including, Costa Fruit & Produce, Inc.  (Charlestown, MA), Hardie’s Fruit & Vegetable Co. (Houston, TX), Muir Copper Canyon Farms (Salt Lake City, UT), Royal Food Service (Atlanta, GA) and Van Eerden Co. (Grand Rapids, MI).

The produce experts serve as consultants for schools to answer all their produce-related questions, share guidance and tips for writing produce RFPs, discuss how to establish collaborative business relationships between schools and produce distributors and showcase the wide variety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables that are ideal for school foodservice.

The Pavilion also has a fresh vending machine stocked with single-serve fresh cut fruits and vegetable and salads that illustrates products ideal for meeting the new “Smart Snacks in Schools” nutrition standards.  United partnered with the National Automatic Merchandising Association to have the Fit Pick vending machine on display.

“Having a strong, face-to-face presence at the SNA conference allows United and the fresh produce industry to demonstrate their commitment to helping  school nutrition operators find the most efficient ways to provide a variety of fruits and vegetables that their students will enjoy,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition & health at United Fresh.

“We are pleased with the industry support given to this first-ever pavilion designed to help schools maximize their success in serving a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables,” said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel. “This strategy connects us with hundreds of school foodservice directors from across the country, helping them understand the unique aspects of the fresh produce marketplace, as well as making sure they’re aware of the many fresh and fresh-cut produce items that that can appeal to the next generation of produce consumers.”

“We appreciate PRO*ACT’s assistance in staffing the ‘Ask the Experts’ area, where school foodservice directors will be able to consult with experts outside of their own procurement process. This affords a consultative environment in which buyers are not negotiating with their own vendors, but instead are learning from distributors who are not trying to win their business,” Stenzel added.

Exhibitors at United’s Fresh Produce Pavilion include:

  • Chiquita Brands International
  • Duda Farm Fresh Foods
  • Grimmway Farms
  • HMC Farms
  • Mushroom Council
  • National Watermelon Promotion Board
  • NatureSeal
  • Pear Bureau Northwest
  • PRO*ACT
  • Ready Pac Foods
  • San Miguel Produce

The Pavilion also features a salad bar to promote Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools. School foodservice directors attending the SNA conference are invited to enter their names to win the salad bar.  United Fresh is a founding partner of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, which has to-date donated salad bars to more than 3,400 schools nationwide.

Additionally, United has organized educational sessions at the SNA show. The programs, titled “Your Produce RFP: Achieving Variety, Quality and a Collaborative Relationship,” will include panel and roundtable discussions among school foodservice directors and produce distributors.

For more information about United’s Fresh Produce Pavilion and how you can participate in the 2015 SNA conference, contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3400.

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JUDGE ISSUES DECISION IN TRI-FANUCCHI FARMS, INC.

Tri-Fanucchi Farms to Accommodate UFW Requests
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Thomas Sobel, issued his 23-page decision TODAY in the Tri-Fanucchi Farms, Inc., Case heard in Visalia on October 21, 2013.
After a long hiatus in bargaining, the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO requested information from and a meeting with Tri-Fanucchi, a farm near Bakersfield.
Tri-Fanucchi refused to provide information to the Union, to recognize the Union as the collective bargaining representative of its employees, and to bargain with the Union on the grounds that UFW had abandoned the farmworkers for 24 years.
ALJ Sobel ruled that the Tri-Fanucchi’s claim of Union abandonment is not available under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) and that, in view of the company’s admissions, the allegations in the Union’s Complaint must be taken as true.
Tri-Fanucchi was ordered, among other things, to provide information to, and to recognize and meet and bargain with the Union as the collective bargaining representative of its employees.
Tri-Fanucchi was also mandated to post the following:
NOTICE TO AGRICULTURAL EMPLOYEES
After investigating charges that were filed by the United Farm Workers of America, in the Visalia Office of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), the General Counsel of the ALRB issued a complaint that we had violated the law. After a hearing at which all parties had an opportunity to present evidence, the ALRB found that we had violated the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (Act) by failing to supply the Union with information to which it was entitled under the Act.
The ALRB has told us to post and publish this Notice.
The Agricultural Labor Relations Act is a law that gives you and all other farm workers in California these rights:
1. To organize yourselves;
2. To form, join or help a labor organization or bargaining representative;
3. To vote in a secret ballot election to decide whether you want a union to represent you;
4. To bargain with your employer about your wages and working conditions through a union chosen by a majority of the employees and certified by the Board;
5. To act together with other workers to help and protect one another; and
6. To decide not to do any of these things.
Because you have these rights, we promise that:
WE WILL NOT refuse to provide the Union with information necessary to foster informed collective bargaining.
WE WILL NOT refuse to meet and to bargain collectively and in good faith with the Union as the representative of our employees for the purpose of collective bargaining.
WE WILL NOT in any like or related manner, refuse to bargain with the Union over wages, hours or conditions of employment, or interfere with, restrain or coerce employees from exercising their right under the Act
DATED:
If you have any questions about your rights as farm workers or about this Notice, you may contact any office of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

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AGRICULTURAL AWARDS – 2013 World Food Prize

2013 World Food Prize Winners

Three distinguished scientists — Marc Van Montagu of Belgium, and Americans, Mary-Dell Chilton, Founder and Distinguished Science Fellow, Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc.; and Robert T. Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Monsanto—share the 2013 World Food Prize for their independent, individual breakthrough achievements in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology.
Their research, which makes it possible for farmers to grow crops with improved yields, resistance to insects and disease, and the ability to tolerate extreme variations in climate, can play a critical role as we face the global challenges of the 21st century of producing more food, in a sustainable way, while confronting an increasingly volatile climate. The pioneering work of these three contributed to the emergence of a new term, “agricultural biotechnology.”
With particular ties to California, Dr. Robert T. Fraley, conducted post-doctoral research in biophysics at the University of California-San Francisco. Fraley led the successful introduction of genetically engineered soybeans that were resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commercially known as Roundup. When planting these “Roundup Ready” crops, a farmer was able to spray an entire field with glyphosate—and only the weeds would be eliminated, leaving the crop plants alive and thriving.
The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing— without regard to race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs—the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.
The Prize recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply — food and agriculture science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership and the social sciences.
The World Food Prize emphasizes the importance of a nutritious and sustainable food supply for all people. By honoring those who have worked successfully toward this goal, The Prize calls attention to what has been done to improve global food security and to what can be accomplished in the future.
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Agriculturalist of the Year,
Fresno County
The Fresno County Farm Bureau announced that The Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce and Baker, Peterson & Franklin, CPA announced that Supervisor   Phil Larson was selected as the 2013 Agriculturalist of the Year, an award given annually to individuals who exemplify leadership and integrity in the Central Valley’s agricultural business community.
Supervisor Larson, a lifelong farmer and Fresno County resident, has had a long and distinguished career with the Wilbur Ellis Company and retired in 2000. His list of community involvement is extensive and includes: President, Fresno County Farm Bureau; Charter member, California Agriculture Production Consultants; California Farm Bureau District 7 State Director; and Fresno City/County Chamber of Commerce.
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Baker, Peterson & Franklin Ag Business Award
The Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce and Baker, Peterson & Franklin, CPA also announced Gar Tootelian, Inc., of Reedley was awarded the 2013 Baker, Peterson & Franklin Ag Business Award, an award to a for-profit service or product-related agribusiness or farming entity headquartered in the Central San Joaquin Valley whose achievements and impact have significantly contributed to the industry and the local community.
Established in 1949, Gar Tootelian, Inc. still prospers as one of California’s oldest and largest independent agricultural chemical and fertilizer retailers. Second generation and family owned, it serves over 1,400 growers from Madera to Kern County.
Gar Tootelian provides advanced, environmentally safe, bio-technology and crop services available. Crop Life magazine recognized Gar Tootelian as the largest, single location, ag retailer in the nation, and they were named in the 10 Best Companies to work for in the Central Valley by a Business Journal survey.
At the Ag Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, November 13 at Radisson Conference Center in Fresno, the Baker, Peterson & Franklin Ag Business Award and the Fresno Chamber Agriculturist of the Year Award will be presented. 
Luncheon tickets are available through the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, www.fresnochamber.com, (559) 495-4800.
Source: Fresno County Farm Bureau, CA Avocado Society
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Award of Honor, California
Avocado Commission
At its 98th annual meeting, the California Avocado Society (CAS) presented the 2013 “Award of Honor” to California Avocado Commission (CAC) Vice President of Marketing Jan DeLyser,CAS President.
“Jan DeLyser has specifically focused on the California avocado industry for the past 15 years. Her entry into the California avocado industry came at a difficult time, when foreign imports cast an ominous shadow over our livelihoods,” said CAS President Chris Ambuul. “In just 15 years, US consumption has increased five-fold, and we are still in business. Jan hasn’t just left a mark on our industry; she is a big reason why we are all still here.”
Ambuul noted that the CAS award recognizes outstanding contribution and dedication to the California avocado industry.
 
The California Avocado Society came into being on May 15, 1915 to promote efficiency of production and orderly marketing toward assuring long term profitability for the business of avocado growing.