Don’t Be Fooled, High Heat Will Return

Farm Employees Must Be Protected During High Temps

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The cool and rainy weather will eventually turn to higher temperature days, and when high heat returns to the Central Valley, it’s essential that farm employees are getting enough water, rest, and shade. Manuel Cunha, the President of the Nisei Farmers League in Fresno told California Ag Today that during hot days, we’ve got to protect employees.

“Training is the first important step to prevent heat illness,” Cunha said. “All employees and supervisors must know about heat illness prevention.”

Water is the next important step in preventing heat stress.

“Employers or supervisors must provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least one quart per hour—or four 8 ounces glasses per hour—and encourage them to do so,” Cunha said.

Manuel Cunha, President of the Nisei Farmers League, Fresno

Shade is the next critical step to prevent heat illness.

“Employees should have access to shade, and they should be encouraged to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least 5 minutes,” Cunha explained. “And employees should not wait until they feel sick to cool down.”

Finally, all ag employers must develop and implement written procedures for complying with the Cal/OSHA Heat Illness Prevention Standard.

 Temperature Triggers

Shade shall be present when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The employer must maintain one or more areas with shade at all times while employees are present that are either open to the air or provided with ventilation or cooling.

The amount of shade present shall be at least enough to accommodate the number of employees on recovery or rest periods so that they can sit in a healthy posture fully in the shade without having to be in physical contact with each other.

The amount of shade present during meal periods shall be at least enough to accommodate the number of employees on the meal period who remain onsite.

The high-heat hazard temperature is 95 degrees or higher. This is when the employees must take a ten-minute preventative cool-down rest period every two hours. Often, farm operations will cease for the day and restart in the morning.

“Farmers, supervisors, packinghouses, farm labor contractors, all of these folks should have their Heat Action Plan ready, and all employers should be aware of it,” Cunha said. “They have to be ready to go, and that crew bosses, managers, foremen are making sure that the workers are getting shade and drinking plenty of water.”

If farm operations need to change their time schedules to accommodate the high temperatures, they need to implement that, as well as making sure that the workers take their proper breaks, and they have a meal.

“Lunchtime is very important for the workers to be nourished and strong,” Cunha said.

When employees are acclimating to the higher temperatures, a buddy system is essential.

“You want to make sure somebody isn’t sweating a lot or beginning to feel nauseated. As workers, they need to be looking out for each other as well. You cannot always depend on the crew boss seeing a problem,” Cunha explained.

Emergency Contacts

In some places, cell phones don’t work, so workers may have to have a two-way radio. Make sure there is a way to call 911 during an emergency. Make sure you have maps posted to where the employees are working, and all the workers know where they’re at.

“If something goes down, they need to call 911, the worker or crew boss needs to say where they’re at—the address, the location, the cross streets,” Cunha stressed.

“The location should be posted on a clipboard to make sure that you have the information there for those employees,” Cunha continued. “That’s very important, to know the procedures.”

“We want all employees to go home safe to their families every night. So farming operations must have heat illness prevention plans in place,” Cunha said.

Farm operations should be sure that a supervisor is in place in all fieldwork and that supervisor must have first aid and CPR training. And if the supervisor leaves the crew for any reason, they must make sure someone is in charge.

First aid and CPR are vital with our farm crews working in the fields or even in the construction industry. Farm labor contractors must be sure that field supervisors are licensed for first aid and CPR.

Nov 9 Annual Ag Awards Luncheon Honors Manuel Cunha, Booth Ranches

Manuel Cunha, Agriculturist of the Year

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

On Wednesday afternoon, November 9, the Who’s Who of Agriculture will gather at the long-standing celebratory Annual Ag Awards Luncheon in Valdez Hall at the Fresno Convention Center to commemorate the achievements of an individual and a company in the County’s agricultural industry.

 

Fresno Chamber of Commerce logoNathan Ahle, president and CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, said, “We are very excited about this. This is the 33rd time the Fresno Chamber has presented the Agriculturist of the Year Award, and the 21st time the Fresno-based CPA firm Baker, Peterson and Franklin has presented the Ag Business of the Year Award. We recognize that Ag is really the life-blood of our economy. This event is an honor to do and something we take great pride in.”

 

This year’s Agriculturist of the Year Award recipient is Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League. “Everybody knows Manuel Cunha—a legend in Valley Ag as president of the Nisei Farmers League for two decades,” Ahle said. “ This gentleman is a force to be recognized with when it comes to fighting for our farmers, fighting for water, fighting for anything and everything that has to do with agriculture in the Central Valley.”

2016 Fresno Chamber of Commerce Agriculturist of the Year recipient, Manuel Cunha, president, Nisei Farmers League.
2016 Fresno Chamber of Commerce Agriculturist of the Year recipient, Manuel Cunha, president, Nisei Farmers League.

 

Nisei Farmers League, established in 1971, informs grower members about ever-changing regulations and policies and provides legal assistance for labor and workplace-related issues. The league’s leadership and staff maintain a close working relationship with local, state and federal agencies and legislators to assure grower interests are adequately understood and defended.

 

The League also collaborates with other grower and agricultural organizations in California and other states to help provide a powerful and unified voice for the agricultural community.  The Nisei Farmers League is all about strength, clear focus and growers looking out for growers and farmworkers.

 

This year’s Ag Business Award recipient, Booth Ranches, is a premium San Joaquin Valley citrus grower. Otis Booth, Jr. founded Booth Ranches in 1957 on 40 acres by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range near Orange Cove.

booth ranches logo

 

Today, Booth Ranches is still family owned and operated on acreage from Orange Cove in the Northern San Joaquin Valley to Maricopa in Kern County to the South. Pasadena-born, fifth-generation farmer Loren Booth currently manages Booth Ranches which boasts premium Navel oranges, Valencia oranges, Cara-Caras, Minneolas and W. Murcott Mandarins that are distributed worldwide.

 

The selection panel went through a tough selection process, according to Ahle. “Those who have been in the Valley longer than I have tell me this is the strongest group of candidates for the award that we have ever had. I think it just speaks to the great passion that we have for Ag in this community, and Manuel Cunha and the team at Booth Ranches are great, great recipients.”

Boxer Jose Ramirez Presents Check to SJVWIA

Professional Boxer Jose Ramirez Helps SJVWIA Fight for Water

(Updated from an earlier version 8/5/16)

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Jose Ramirez, a 2012 Olympian and current World Boxing Conference Continental Americas Champion, spoke at a special event TODAY at the Nisei Farmers League in Fresno, where in the name of the City of Avenal—a community member agency of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority (SJVWIA), Ramirez presented a $3,300 check to the SJVWIA. SJVWIA, in turn, is working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and many Valley counties, cities and water agencies to coordinate and complete the Temperance Flat feasibility studies and prepare the necessary bond funding application.

 

Ramirez, whose remarkable boxing record includes 17 fights and 17 wins—with 12 wins by knockoutgrew up in Avenal, California (Kings County) with his parents working in the fields. “I knew those jobs were important to my family because they gave me a future; they gave my brothers and sisters their future; my friends, their families, their future; they brought food to the table,” he said.

 

“When you’re a kid growing up in a small town like Avenal, you grow up with such innocence. There are a lot of questions that you don’t ask. There are a lot of things you don’t understand. I was just a kid who was happy to have any type of toy,” he said. “I didn’t have the privilege of having electronic games or the best clothes, but I had just enough to survive, just enough to have fun. I was very active.”

 

Boxing Champ Jose Ramirez presents a check to the SJVWIA
Boxing Champ Jose Ramirez presents a check to the SJVWIA

One day Ramirez asked his dad, why he bought his children sweaters instead of jackets. His dad replied, “Well, because jackets are expensive.” Ramirez reflected, “As a kid, you don’t really understand the way he managed his financials, but everything was given because of those jobs working the fields. Everything was given because of the agriculture in Central California.”

 

The “Fight For Water” boxing series, developed to help bring attention to the dire water issues in California, particularly in the Central Valley, has featured Ramirez in five victorious bouts to date. Despite an average year of precipitation, contracted federal water deliveries to many farmers in the Westlands Water District, for instance, have been cut by 95% thus far, this year alone, and the remaining 5% is now in jeopardy. Deliveries for the previous 10 consecutive years, were: 100% (2006), 50% (2007), 40% (2008), 10 (2009), 45% (2010), 80% (2011), 40% (2012), 20% (2013), 0% (2014), 0%(2015).

 

“We got in contact with Mario Santoyo and Manuel Cunha, from the Latino Water Coalition, and it has been an honor working with them. The experiences—I have really matured myself as a person,” Ramirez said. “Besides a fighter, I have learned so much. I have become more passionate about this issue. I want to continue fighting for the water. I want to continue fighting for what’s right for the people, for what’s right for my family, for what’s right for my friends’ families and for other families where I grew up,” he said.

 

“I am happy to work with the City of Avenal. I want [Avenal] to stay involved as much as they can. I want them to be a part of the programs, because I know Avenal is a good community,” he said. “They’ve done great with all the kids there.”

 

“It’s because of Avenal, I am who I am,” Ramirez said. “The opportunities that they’ve given me I will never forget. This is why I’m here, to make sure that they stay involved, to help them, to raise what needs to be raised and for them to be part of the team that we’re making, because I know that team is created by leaders, and I know that Avenal will do a good job being a part of it,” he said.

 

“I’m happy to say I will do as much as I can to make that happen. We’re going to continue fighting for the water, because I know that this is our future,” Ramirez said. “Being a father, I have to think about the future of my kids. And I have lots of friends who are fathers too, so I’ve got to make sure that they’re set, or at least have hope,” he concluded.


Resources

The Nisei Farmers League informs grower members about regulations and policies through meetings, seminars, newsletters and special bulletins.; provides legal assistance for labor and workplace related issues; maintains a close working relationship with local, state and federal agencies and legislators to protect grower interests; and collaborates with other grower and agricultural organizations in California and other states to help provide a powerful, unified voice for the agricultural community.

San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority (SJVWIA)

Upper San Joaquin River Basin Storage Investigation


 

Supreme Court Ruling on Immigration

Manuel Cunha Jr. Fires Off Letter RE:  Supreme Court Ruling on Immigration 

The following is a letter that Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League sent out about the Supreme Court ruling on immigration TODAY:

“As the president of the Nisei Farmers League, board member of the National Immigration Forum in Washington, D.C., chair of the Insure America Project, and as a farmer myself, I am deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court ruling that was announced TODAY. Their ruling provided no guidance nor direction to this Congress and ignored the safety of those affected by the ruling.

The 4-4 deadlock leaves in place an appeals court ruling blocking President Obama’s immigration plan. His plan would have allowed parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a program that would spare them from deportation and provide them with work permits.

Dignity, integrity and justice is what this country believes in and has made this country great. This country was built and strengthened by immigrants. Many of us today realize it was our parents and ancestors from other countries that brought us here. However, there are those that have forgotten, many of which are currently members of Congress.

This decision does not move us closer to immigration reform, but allows Congress to repeatedly refuse to support bipartisan legislation to update immigration laws. Congress continues to not deal with Immigration, but rather deal with their own party politics.

Millions of families will remain in limbo, and our system remains broken. The attention now turns to Senate and House Republicans to provide leadership on this issue. What is their solution to our broken immigration system? This escalates many of the problems that currently exist. Drug and human trafficking will continue, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids will not go away. Millions of immigrants living in the shadows is not the answer. Deportation of the people that clothe and feed us is shameful and not the answer.DACA Dreamers logo_2016

We must remember that the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” DACA (Dreamers), is untouched. We need to focus on providing alternatives to the children who were brought here and have grown up here as Americans and identify themselves as Americans. The DACA program is still in play and we need to encourage those that are eligible to apply.”

Water Commission Meeting Delivers Passion and Controversy

Water Commission Meeting Delivers Passion and Controversy

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

 

The California drought has become a hot topic, and even more so is the subject of how to solve the drought. Some advocates believe the solution is in long-term water storage, and as a result, the California Water Commission (Commission) has been drawing up a proposal to enact this potential solution.

On Wednesday, Oct. 14 in Clovis, the Commission held a public meeting to discuss their Water Storage Investment Program.

Joe Del Bosque, a commissioner on the California Water Commission, as well as a Westside farmer struggling with the zero water allocations, summarized the meeting, “It was very lively, especially at the beginning. A lot of folks are hurting—and rightly so. They have a lot of uncertainties about next year or the year after, or for who knows how many years.

We don’t know when some of these storage projects will be completed and ready to start helping us. A lot of folks have a lot on the line here in the San Joaquin Valley, and I appreciate hearing from them and listening to their concerns.”

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, in his opening remarks, said the governor, the commission and the California State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) must realize what is driving the need for water storage. “We really need to look at the capacity to store water,” Patterson said. “If we have two river watersheds—both producing similar amounts of water, but one drops into a reservoir that’s half the size of the other, the water will overflow. And we know El Nino is coming, 95 percent.”

Many individuals spoke passionately about the plan during the comment period. Kings County Supervisor and walnut farmer, Doug Verboon, said, “We need storage. We’ve been complaining about it for years, and this is one chance in our lifetime to get more storage built. We need to get over our differences and get together and make this happen. We want to make sure the Water Commission fully understands the importance of adding more storage today.”

Another county supervisor, David Rogers, from Madera County, reminded the Commission that the need for water storage goes beyond reserving water for dry years.

“We’re losing our groundwater so rapidly that the soil is sinking beneath us and we have subsidence occurring,” Rogers said. “And all the while water is flowing out to the ocean from the San Joaquin river system when that water needs to be delegated and allocated to the farms that need it so they’re not pumping groundwater.

In reality we’re losing the river as a result of subsidence. The river, itself, is subsiding so it’s a moot issue whether or not we need surface water delivery. That has to happen. We cannot continue this way or we will lose the river, the communities and the farms. So there’s no question that Temperance Flat is the answer to that problem.”

During the meeting attendees learned that the Water Storage Improvement Plan includes a timeline that doesn’t allow for funds to be awarded to applicants wishing to build storage until 2017.

Greg Musson, president of GAR Tootelian, Inc., called the timeline unacceptable, adding the delay in the plan would lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. “I don’t see how anyone can accept this as being standard for the way that America works,” he said. “Shame on you! Really, shame on you! You have to do better here. America needs you to do better; I need you to do better; the people in this room need you to do better than this. This is outrageous.”

Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, spoke about the Joint Powers of Authority (JPA) that is being formed to apply for funding to build water storage. “We’re going to have to submit it as a large project,” Cunha said, “big storage—definitely Temperance Flat—plus all of these different irrigation districts, cities and tribes have projects that we’re going put together and submit in this large package. That’s the only way we’re going to get this money. Only then cab we start to deal with all the public benefits, environmental issues, and securing those dollars for this Valley.”

The California Water Commission consists of nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate. Seven members are chosen for their general expertise related to the control, storage, and beneficial use of water and two are chosen for their knowledge of the environment. The Commission provides a public forum for discussing water issues, advises the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and takes appropriate statutory actions to further the development of policies that support integrated and sustainable water resource management and a healthy environment. Statutory duties include advising the Director of DWR, approving rules and regulations, and monitoring and reporting on the construction and operation of the State Water Project.