Tom Nassif: CA Farmers Face the Most Stringent Regulations in the World
By Cory Lunde, Western Growers
In response to the recent announcement that the California Department of Pesticide Residue (DPR) is acting to ban the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:
“California farmers are universally committed to the safety of their food, the health of their workers and communities, and the sustainability of their land. At every turn, they strive to achieve efficiencies in their use of resources like water, fertilizer, and pesticides and seek to minimize both the human and environmental impacts of these inputs.
“California farmers also face the most stringent regulatory environment in the world, one that often limits their access to many of the tools still available to farmers elsewhere in the U.S. and in foreign countries, including certain types of pesticides. Indeed, over the last 20 years, California regulatory actions have removed several of the most important crop protection tools farmers rely on to fight pests and diseases.
“With … [the] announcement that DPR will initiate the cancellation of chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely studied and globally approved insecticides, California farmers now stand to lose yet another arrow in their quiver—without effective and ready replacement tools—making their quest to grow the safest, healthiest and most abundant food supply in the world even more difficult.
“California farmers are resilient, but the long-term viability of our farms in California depends on proper support from the Administration and renewed cooperation of the state’s regulatory agencies, especially in light of the many other unique and expensive regulations that place California farmers at a growing competitive disadvantage.”
All Fruits and Vegetables Harvested by Foreign Hands
By Cory Lunde, Western Growers Assoc. Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications
Recently, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif detailed the critical labor shortages facing American agriculture and laid out the case for agricultural immigration reform before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.
In his testimony, Nassif stated that experienced workers are aging out of the agricultural workforce, with few Americans lining up to take their place, despite wages well above state and federal minimums. Farmers in all sectors of U.S. agriculture, especially in the labor-intensive fruit and vegetable industries, are experiencing chronic labor shortages, which have been exacerbated by recent interior immigration enforcement and tighter border security policies.
As a result of the uncertain agricultural labor market, Nassif explained, many American farmers are either shifting toward more mechanized crops or moving their operations to other countries.
“The simple fact is this,” Nassif said, “fruits and vegetables that are eaten in the United States will be harvested by foreign hands.”
He continued: “The simple question for you, as members of Congress, is do you want those foreign hands harvesting your fruits and vegetables to be on farms here in the United States or do you want to see production continue to shift to farms in foreign countries?”
After touching on the existing, flawed H-2A agricultural guest worker program, rife with burdensome regulatory red tape, Nassif outlined a two-pronged proposal for agricultural immigration reform that jointly provides a pathway to legalization for existing farmworkers and their immediate families and creates a more flexible, efficient and market-based agricultural worker visa program to ensure a sufficient future flow of labor.
Nassif concluded that while “immigration can be among the most divisive and difficult to resolve in Washington,” this issue is decidedly non-partisan, as agricultural immigration reform is really about securing the future of American agriculture and, by extension, long-term U.S. food security.
Western Growers appreciates the efforts of Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and Ranking Member Ken Buck to elevate the dialogue around this vital issue, and we look forward to working across the aisle to advance bipartisan legislation that provides our country and farmers with a legal, stable and reliable source of agricultural labor.
OSHA Log Summary Must Be Posted in Common Areas
News Release from Western Growers Association
OSHA’s Form 300A logs with work-related injuries and illnesses occurring in the prior calendar year must be posted. All eligible employers are required to maintain and post an annual OSHA 300A summary sheet from February 1 to April 30.
February 1 marks the deadline for you to tabulate your annual OSHA Log Summary (OSHA Form 300A) and post it in a common area wherever notices to employees are usually posted. The summary must list the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during the previous calendar year and were logged on the OSHA 300 Form. The summary should remain posted until April 30. Instructions on how to complete both the log and annual summaries of work-related injuries and illnesses can be downloaded for free from Cal/OSHA’s Record Keeping Overview. The definitions and requirements for recordable work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses are outlined in the California Code of Regulations, Title 8, sections 14300 through 14300.48. Employers are required to complete and post Form 300A even if no workplace injuries occurred.
Employers with 10 or less employees or who work in low-hazard industries are not required to post their summary. Additional details regarding eligibility for the exemption can be found on the OSHA Injury Tracking Application webpage.
Electronic Reporting Requirement
Additionally, many employers are required to also submit their OSHA 300A information electronically. The classes of business who must comply with the electronic reporting process include:
- Any business with at least 250 employees.
- Any business with 20 to 249 employees who falls into one of several classifications including agriculture. (A complete list of the affected classifications can be found here.)
Affected employers are advised to submit their 2018 OSHA 300A data through the Fed-OSHA portal by the March 2 deadline. Updates regarding the 300A reporting requirements can be found here.
For instructions regarding the electronic filing process, please see federal OSHA’s ITA website.
Farm Bureau, CA Farm Water Coalition, Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers Support Order
News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh
Last week, President Trump provided welcome relief to Western farmers, cities, rural communities and wildlife refuges that have struggled under water supply rules that are long overdue for an update. Prioritizing national interest and the value of California food production, the president’s order requires the re-consultation of the biological opinions to be completed and fully implemented by August 2019.
The deadline will bring to a close the review of rules governing the long-term operation of the federal Central Valley Project and California State Water Project. The review has been underway since August 2016, a process the order requires to be concluded by Aug. 31, 2019.
The president’s action fulfills his campaign commitment to help solve the state’s water supply shortages and will greatly benefit Central Valley communities and the environment. Since 1992, water supply restrictions have caused severe economic consequences for farms and the people who depend on them for work. Many of the state’s most disadvantaged communities have suffered due to scarce water supplies.
Wildlife refuges that are a critical component of the Pacific Flyway have had insufficient water to meet the needs of millions of ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds and endangered animals in large parts of the Central Valley and the Klamath Basin. An ongoing review of the rules governing these critical water supplies only delays the ability of these important areas to recover.
This action will also help address water shortages that have occurred across the West as the result of federal regulations overseen by multiple agencies. It offers hope to farmers and ranchers served by federal water projects in the Pacific Northwest, including the Columbia Basin and the Klamath Basin. The president’s order places the responsibility of operating the federal water projects with the Department of the Interior, to be supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The action prohibits any impacts to threatened or endangered species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
This issue has been scrutinized by the Executive Branch as far back as 2011. At that time, President Obama observed that the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in freshwater, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. Those overlapping jurisdictions have only slowed efforts to help the fish.
A committee convened by the National Research Council also studied this matter a few years ago. The NRC found that the lack of a systematic, well-framed overall analysis between the two services is “a serious scientific deficiency, and it likely is related to the ESA’s practical limitations as to the scope of actions that can or must be considered in a single biological opinion.”
Improved coordination between federal agencies will promote more efficient, effective and coordinated management of all ESA responsibilities for anadromous and freshwater fish in Western watersheds, from the highest reaches of our headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.
“This action is an important and common-sense move that will benefit Western farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on federal water projects,” said Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance. “It’s a practical and assertive change to Western water management and species recovery that our membership strongly supports.”
California’s GOP congressional delegation from the Central Valley played an important role in identifying the problems in the state’s water system and worked closely with the Trump administration to produce a solution that is consistent with federal law and will improve the water delivery system.
“There’s no question that the Central Valley has lagged behind the economic recovery experienced in other parts of the state. We’re optimistic that these changes will not only help improve water supplies for farms, farm-related businesses, and disadvantaged rural communities, they will provide the incentive to put science-based solutions to work to help recover iconic native fish species that have suffered under the existing regulatory approach,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.
“This is a common-sense improvement to a process that has been abused in the past by regulatory agencies seeking to impose a scientifically-unsound regime on water users that ultimately, by design, de-irrigates some of the highest quality farmland in the world. This move by the Administration simply ensures that the process of revising the rules governing Delta water operations will be less vulnerable to regulatory abuse,” said Tom Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association.
“Implementation of the Endangered Species Act can be better for both species and people, and the president’s action moves us in that direction,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said. “It’s time to grow beyond the culture of conflict that has governed California water for too long. We need streamlined solutions that benefit species and that benefit both the farmers who provide California-grown food and farm products and everyone who depends on those products.”
WG Center Brings Technology to Ag
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
The Western Growers Association’s WG Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas is turning three years old. Dennis Donahue, mayor of Salinas from 2006 to 2012 and currently the consulting director at the center, spoke to California Ag Today recently about the anniversary.
This center houses more than 50 ag-tech startup companies and is a hub for new developments in ag-tech with services ranging from infield robotics to renewable energy.
The agriculture industry as a whole is facing many problems, including water supply, labor supply, water quality, and crop protection. And that’s why it’s so crucial for these startups to keep coming up with these new innovative solutions.
“Labor is a challenge because it’s getting tougher,” Donahue said. “The cost issues are—the supply issues are—intensifying, so that puts a lot of pressure on the automation piece and proof of concept, particularly in the field.”
“How do you get something crop off the ground, out of an orchard or clipped from a vineyard? That’s going to occupy a lot of time, cost efficiency, and technology. Those things are at best with some focus at three- to five-year play, and our problems may come a little sooner,” Donahue explained.
“California agriculture and the folks we deal with in the Western Growers network are bound and determined to address these problems. We often get a real dose of realism. ‘Look, here are the issues. Here are some of the things that haven’t been working well, and we need to work better, and we need to work faster.’ But, there’s no quittin’ the dog. You know, I think the industry is fully engaged, understands the challenges, and we’ve got a pretty good group of people determined to meet them on both the ag and technology side.”
Western Growers will award Patricio the prestigious 2018 Award of Honor on October 30
News Release Edited by Patrick Cavanaugh
Western Growers will honor Steve Patricio, whose visionary leadership has advanced the agricultural industry by leaps and bounds, with the 2018 Award of Honor. The Award of Honor is Western Growers’ highest recognition of industry achievement and is given to individuals who have contributed extensively to the agricultural community.
“Steve has been a tireless advocate for agriculture, and his ability to turn some of the most tumultuous challenges that our industry has faced over the past few decades into opportunities is unmatched,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. “He has already left a tremendous legacy as someone who shoulders the responsibility of igniting change that advances the industry as a whole.”
Patricio, the Chief Financial Officer of Westside Produce, based in Los Banos, is being recognized for his immeasurable leadership and contribution to the agricultural industry, making significant advancements in food safety and the protection of public health. Steve led the creation of the first-ever mandatory food safety compliance program for the California cantaloupe industry, as well as helped raise millions of dollars to fund research geared toward preventing foodborne illness. He also played an integral role in the establishment of the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements, which today have become the model for produce safety and accountability.
“When you look at the success of California agriculture, Steve is a true representative of why the ag community is as successful as it is today,” said Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director of the Center for Produce Safety. “He truly embodies passion and proactivity, and his commitment to food safety to benefit both the consumer and industry is unlike any other.”
Patricio’s tenacity does not just stop at food safety. Patricio has spent countless hours throughout his 45-year tenure in the industry advocating for a sustainable supply of water for farmers to grow the food that feeds the state, nation, and world. He has taken every opportunity, as he did when he was asked to join former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the San Luis Reservoir, to call attention to the need for more surface water storage and stress the need for a comprehensive water solution. Furthermore, Patricio launched the industry’s first orientation program for agribusinesses that focused exclusively on water rights.
“Steve has one of the brightest minds and quickest wit in the industry,” said Bob Gray, past chairman of Western Growers and former president/CEO of California Ag Leadership Foundation. “He is a contributor of substance, and the expertise and competence he has brought regarding food safety and water have made major impacts for the industry.”
A Los Banos-native, Patricio is deeply involved in the community and industry. He has served as chairman for Western Growers, Center for Produce Safety, California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, and Monrovia Nursery Company. He has also held leadership positions at Western Growers Assurance Trust, Monsanto Vegetable Seeds Advisory Council and the Produce Marketing Association.
“I was speechless when I found out I was selected for this award,” Patricio said. “I never thought that, at the end of it all, I would be a farmer or involved in this honorable and wonderful world that I am so engaged in today. I often tell youth that your career chooses you, and because I followed the path life decided to take me on, I am proud to say that I am a farmer. I couldn’t imagine being in any other industry.”
Patricio’s accomplishments and passion for shaping the ag industry will be recognized at the Award of Honor Dinner Gala at the Western Growers Annual Meeting on October 30 in Palm Desert, CA. There, Patricio will be honored by his peers, friends, and family. To attend the ceremony, visit http://www.wgannualmeeting.
ALRB Rejects Gerawan’s Motion to Disqualify Isadore Hall III
By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor
Our ongoing coverage of developments among United Farm Workers (UFW), Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), Gerawan Farming, Inc. and California farm workers chronicles the continuing, increasingly complex quagmire that masquerades as protecting California farm workers’ rights.
In short, after a series of legal volleys between Gerawan Farming and ALRB this past spring, the ALRB, again, refused to disqualify ALRB Member Isadore Hall III, former state senator (35th District, D-Compton), from participating in specific Gerawan legal cases on the basis of alleged pro-UFW bias.
In legal terms, ALRB issued an administrative order on June 9, 2017, denying Gerawan Farming, Inc.’s May 23, 2017 motion for reconsideration of request to disqualify Isadore Hall III from participating in specific case deliberations and decisions regarding Gerawan Farming, Inc. Likewise, ALRB also denied Gerawan’s request for a stay of the proceedings pending resolution of Mr. Hall’s participation.
Condensed Early History
The UFW was certified as the bargaining representative for Gerawan’s agricultural employees in July 1992, after a 1990 election. After one preliminary negotiating session in February 1995, the UFW disappeared for almost two decades, having never collected dues, negotiated for a wage increase, attempted to bargain for a contract or filed a single grievance on behalf of Gerawan employees during their abandonment, according to an April 17, 2017, Gerawan news release.
In 2013, the UFW invoked a controversial 2002 Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC) law that allows the ALRB to draft and impose a “contract” on the employer and employees against their will. UFW also proposed that Gerawan employees pay 3% of their wages to the UFW or be fired. Fewer than 1% of the current Gerawan workforce voted in the 1990 election, and many current employees were not even born when that election took place.
The majority of employees twice asked ALRB for an election to decertify the UFW. At the ALRB’s request, the Fresno Superior Court intervened and supervised the decertification petition process—the first time in ALRB history that a court oversaw an ALRB election.
On November 5, 2013, thousands of Gerawan workers cast secret ballots to decide whether to decertify the UFW. The ALRB impounded the ballots, which remain uncounted to this date in an undisclosed (possibly insecure) location.
Current History – 2017
Appointment of Isadore Hall III to ALRB
In his January 13, 2017, letter of resignation to Governor Brown as ALRB Chairman, William B. Gould IV stated that the Agricultural Labor Relations Act [ALRA or “Act”] “is now irrelevant to farm workers, in particular, because, for the most part, they are not aware of the provisions, procedures, and rights contained in the law.”
“I have pointed out [in several speeches] that only one representation petition has been filed during the 34 months of my Chairmanship,” Gould continued. “More than 99% of the agricultural workforce appears to be unrepresented and the instances of unfair labor practice charges and invocation of the Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation Act (MMC) are few and far between.”
“Regrettably, though the Board adopted the proposed rule 14 months ago for worker education about the Act’s features, the rule has languished in the bowels of state bureaucracy for the past 14 months. My view is that this long delay is substantially attributable to the fact that the ALRB, unlike the NLRB, is not a standalone, independent administrative agency.”
Also on January 13, 2017, Governor Brown designated Genevieve Shiroma as Chair of the ALRB, where she had served as a member since 1999, an appointment that did not require Senate confirmation. Likewise, Governor Brown appointed Isadore Hall III, and the California Senate confirmed his appointment, despite Hall’s public history of pro-UFW activity and endorsements and allegations that he threatened farmers who opposed his nomination.
Agricultural Community Responds to Hall’s Appointment
In “Farmers Deserve a Balanced Ag Labor Board,”a letter published in the Sacramento Bee on February 23, 2017 by George Radanovich, (president of the California Fresh Fruit Association), Joel Nelsen (president of California Citrus Mutual) and Tom Nassif (president of Western Growers Association), the authors explained, “The purpose of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) was to bring about a sense of justice and fair play during a tumultuous time in the farm fields of California in 1975.”
“When the ALRB was formed in 1975,” the authors stated, “it was with the understanding that membership would consist of two members representing labor, two representing agriculture, and one public or neutral member. Instead, the board has become one of the most contentious, lopsided administrative boards ever assembled by the state of California. The recent resignation of Chairman William Gould IV and his prompt replacement by former state Sen. Isadore Hall, D- Compton, only further illustrate this imbalance.”
In place of conducting outreach to all affected stakeholders, including agriculture, “in a matter of 48 hours, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed a termed-out state senator and failed congressional candidate who has no labor law background whatsoever but with strong ties to the UFW.”
Hall’s UFW ties were listed as “financial support by the UFW, personal ties with UFW President Arturo Rodriguez and raising the union banner while marching with the UFW. While a state senator, Hall was the principal co-author of two UFW-sponsored bills and voted in favor of two other bills that would make it easier to force ALRB-written contracts on farmers and workers. These close ties should disqualify him from the position where he will judge UFW issues almost daily.”
“There is no denying that the ALRB’S recent decision to prevent the disclosure of the November 2013 election results, from the high-profile decertification fiasco of Gerawan Farming of Fresno was to cover up the fact that most farm workers don’t want to unionize.”
“Today, California farm workers are protected by the strictest labor laws in the nation, and they decline to unionize because they value a good employer over a union. Brown should recognize this and rewrite the ALRA to guarantee employer representation on the board. California farmers deserve better than a lopsided Agricultural Labor Relations Board.”
ALRB Decides Gerawan Negotiated “in Bad Faith”
On April 14, 2017, ALRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) William Schmidt issued an interim decision finding that Gerawan committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to negotiate “in good faith” with the UFW. Essentially Judge Schmidt contended, “Gerawan engaged in collective bargaining negotiations with the UFW with no intention of reaching an agreement covering the wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment for the employees in the collective bargaining unit.”
According to David Schwarz, counsel for Gerawan Farming, “This decision was riddled with legal and factual errors. The most glaring of these errors was the fact that ALJ Schmidt found that Gerawan failed to negotiate when it had already been ordered to [follow] a process [MMC] where traditional give-and-take negotiation had been replaced by government-imposed forced contracting.”
According to an April 17, 2017 Gerawan newss release, “The so-called MMC procedures are neither consensual nor voluntary. It is forced contracting. The ALRB tells the employer what wages to pay, what employees to hire, or fire, or promote, and what portion of the employees’ salary will be turned over to the union. The employer may not opt out and the employees are not given the choice to ratify or reject the so-called contract that will be forced on them, even if there are provisions detrimental to them.”
“There is a fundamental – and constitutional – difference between consensual bargaining and state-compelled contracting,” said Dan Gerawan, president and CEO of Gerawan Farming. “The ALJ obliterates this distinction.”
Gerawan added that MMC does not facilitate negotiations. Rather, it is an imposed agreement by force of law and Gerawan was compelled to abide by it.
Schwarz explained, “Per the ALRB’s own regulations, MMC kicks in only after the Board has certified that further negotiation between the parties would be futile.”
At that point, according to Schwarz, a government-appointed arbitrator steps in, hears evidence from each party, drafts a CBA (or collective bargaining agreement), which the Board approves and imposes on the parties by force of law. Since there is no place for negotiation in this process, Schwarz contends there is no logical or legal basis for ALJ Schmidt to conclude that Gerawan’s conduct during MMC could justify his finding that Gerawan failed to negotiate in good faith with the UFW.
Gerawan Files Motion to Disqualify Member Hall from participating in “Bad Faith” Negotiating Case
On April 28, 2017, Gerawan Farming, Inc. filed a Motion to Disqualify Board Member Isadore Hall from participating in the deliberations in the case above based on documented “sweeping prejudicial” statements Member Hall made against Gerawan.
“Our DQ motion was very compelling,” Dan Gerawan said. “Hall marched specifically against us and our employees and received an endorsement from UFW in return. It’s ridiculous that he was assigned to a job where 90% of his work will be to adjudicate UFW-related issues, and half of his work will be Gerawan-related.”
ALRB Rejects Gerawan’s Motions to Disqualify ALRB Member Hall and to Request a Stay from Participating in “Bad Faith” Negotiating Case
On May 18, 2017, the ALRB rejected Gerawan’s motions to disqualify ALRB member Isadore Hall and to request a stay in order to resolve the motion to disqualify.
“Hall’s disqualification would leave the ALRB without a current valid quorum of three members to hear the case,” Schwarz said, “thus lacking the statutory power to act. The Governor can resolve this issue by simply doing what the ALRA requires him to do – appoint two additional ALRB members, thus bringing the Board to its statutorily-requisite composition, which is five members.”
Gerawan Files Motion for Reconsideration of the Board’s Order Denying Motion to Disqualify Member Hall
On May 23, 2017, Gerawan filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Board’s Order Denying Motion to Disqualify Member Hall, repeating its request for a stay of the proceedings pending resolution of the motion.
“Gerawan filed this motion for reconsideration both to correct serious legal errors in the Board’s initial decision,” Schwarz said, “and to bring to light new evidence regarding the identity of an individual who participated in a conversation with Mr. Hall in which Mr. Hall stated that he was going to ‘get’ Gerawan once he was a member of the Board. This individual, Mr. Shaun Ramirez, provided a declaration in support of Gerawan’s first motion to disqualify Member Hall. However, Mr. Ramirez and his employer, concerned that the Board (or Mr. Hall) might retaliate against them for speaking out, initially asked that Mr. Ramirez’s identity remain confidential.”
“The Board initially refused to consider Mr. Ramirez’s declaration – precisely because he asked that Gerawan not reveal his name for fear of retaliation. After the Board denied Gerawan’s motion to disqualify Mr. Hall, Mr. Ramirez allowed Gerawan to file an unredacted version of his declaration with this motion for reconsideration. This declaration set out in great detail Mr. Ramirez’s interactions with Mr. Hall and Mr. Hall’s statement, in reference to Gerawan, ‘I am going to get their ass.’”
ALRB Denies Gerawan’s Motion For Reconsideration to Disqualify Board Member Hall from Deliberations in this Case
On June 9, 2017, ALRB denied both Gerawan’s motion for reconsideration to disqualify Board Member Hall from deliberations in the case and Gerawan’s request for reconsideration of an immediate stay of the proceedings.
“As discussed,” Schwarz said, “Gerawan filed a motion for reconsideration with an unredacted version of Mr. Ramirez’s declaration. The Board again refused to consider Mr. Ramirez’s detailed account of his conversation with Member Hall. The Board took the position that it was under no requirement to consider such evidence in a motion for reconsideration, as the declaration was not ‘newly discovered’ or ‘previously unavailable.’ The Board discounted Mr. Ramirez’s reasons for desiring anonymity, and disregarded the merits of his sworn statement, without explaining why the revelation of his identity did not require it to reconsider the basis [the anonymity of the declarant] for disregarding it in the first place.”
“Of equal significance is that Mr. Hall participated in deciding his own disqualification motion,” Schwarz added. “This violates a basic rule of due process and long-standing Board precedent that a member accused of bias cannot decide his own disqualification motion. Instead, Member Hall offered his own statement that he was not biased against Gerawan, albeit without denying or affirming the truth of Mr. Ramirez’s declaration.”
“Unlike Mr. Ramirez,” said Schwarz, “Member Hall’s ‘concurring’ opinion was not under oath.”
In the official ALRB Decision, Hall wrote, “I reject the claims of bias leveled against me by Gerawan and decline to recuse myself from participation in the deliberations in this case.”
In reaction to the Board’s refusal to disqualify Member Hall, Schwarz said, “Gerawan will appeal the Board’s decision. We are confident that this unprecedented and unconstitutional decision will not stand.”
Featured photo: Isadore Hall III marching with UFW prior to ALRB appointment.
“Farmers Deserve a Balanced Ag Labor Board,” by George Radanovich, Joel Nelsen, and Tom Nassif, Sacramento Bee, February 23, 2017.
Americans not interested in farm worker jobs, Western Growers Association says
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
The noble farm workers moving though California orchards and vineyards – where they are pruning trees and tying vines, along with other winter work – are fearful that they could be deported.
“They are scared because there has been a lot of the rhetoric in the news out there that’s come from the presidential campaign,” said Jason Resnick, Vice President and general counsel for the Western Growers Association, based in Irvine. “It has certainly raised concerns for workers. However, we are confident that the President-elect understands the needs of agriculture, the importance of agriculture and that we rely on these workers to harvest the crops that feed the country and the world.”
“For the last decade agricultural leaders through all segments of the ag industry have been leaning hard on Congress for an immigration reform package that will do two things: One that will help us to maintain our existing workforce and to normalize their status,” Resnick said. “And two, we need lawmakers to streamline the future flow of workers who want to come here for the season and do the work and return back to their home country. It’s really a two-prong approach that we are looking for.”
And there has been additional rhetoric, along with letters to editors in major newspapers across the country. Many uninformed people are saying that farm workers should not be here because they are taking away American jobs.
“We’ve known for years and it’s been tested and proven again and again that Americans won’t pick crops at any wage,” Resnick said. “As part of the H2A temporary agricultural program that allows agricultural employee who are facing a shortage of domestic workers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform ag work services on a seasonal basis, we have advertised for American workers in multiple states.”
“We are seeking American workers to do the work at considerable higher wages than minimum wage,” he said. “And we do not get many Americans applying at all. And when we do, they come to work and they barely last a day, let alone the season.”
“People in this country would do almost anything rather than farm work,” Resnick said.
Terry Stark’s Final Speech to CAPCA Conference Attendees
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor
“They wouldn’t give me a walk-around microphone because they were afraid I would preach, so you guys lucked out,” noted Terry Stark, the feisty, fun-loving professional CEO and President of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA), who led the organization for 10 years.
Stark spoke to CAPCA attendees during the final session of the 40th Annual CAPCA Conference and Agri-Expo in Anaheim, in October.
“And I don’t have a PowerPoint, so you’re going to luck out even more,” he said.
“I am going to talk to you briefly about some of the programs going forward, and how you, as CAPCA members, can make a huge contribution. You heard California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger and the other general session speakers talk about investment, involvement and belonging; we need you to step up and do that,’ said Stark.
Tell People What You Do!
“With 3,000 PCAs in CAPCA, we’re the third largest association in the state of California, next to the Farm Bureau and Western Growers Association. Commodity boards or mandated programs; and you come to CAPCA because you want to come—because you’re volunteers—and the future will be how you mentor the future PCA generation.”
“How do you do that?” he continued. “You heard two of our speakers say, ‘tell somebody what you do, why you do it, and why you love to do it,'” noted Stark.
“The CAPCA Board was very generous in moving $100,000 dollars three months ago to the Stanley W. Stew Education Fund, Inc. to start the first CAPCA Leadership Institute. We have staff that has been challenged to find champions to go out and raise funds; I don’t care if it is one dollar or one million dollars, to develop a leadership program.
“I love this place. The CAPCA Leadership Institute will inspire plant science students to get their PCA license. And how we’re going do that is that? We’re going to have to our chapters, to our members, and when they talk to anyone with a dollar in their pocket, to make the contribution to the Stanley W. Stew Foundation; its a [501(C)(3)] corporation, its a tax write-off. And Steve Bickley (CAPCA Board NorCal) and I have the project management to develop the protocols on how we’re going to run this,” noted Stark.
“Well, I’m not stupid; we have Shannon Douglas, our coordinator to our Pathway to PCA program, to help out. In fact, we have two dozen-plus PCAs in the room who attended the Leadership Foundation programs up and down the state. We’re going to take that knowledge from the young farmers and ranchers and from the Farm Bureau, we’ll take that Ag leadership, and we’ll make a program in which at least one dozen PCAs on an annual business basis will learn how to conduct themselves around legislators, supervisors, and school boards. In other words, how do you tell someone that you are important?” Stark said.
How to Fix Stupid?
Stark noted that his board is asking a critical question of the candidates for my job, “Can you fix stupid? What I mean by that is when I sit down and talk to PCAs, it’s clear who the smartest person in the room is, and it’s not me,” Stark said.
“So, if you get tapped to be a champion to raise money for the CAPCA Leadership Institute, if you say “no,” I will come back from Texas and hound you until you get your wallet out. I truly believe that that’s going to be the program of the future, it will allow us to reinvest in the `Pathway to PCA’ program.
“When the program headed up by Shannon Douglas was to sunset three years ago, our Ag retailers and basic manufacturers stepped up and funded $300,000 to continue the work. And through those efforts, we have about a 50 PCA license-gain over where we were five years ago. It’s an important program so that we make sure young professionals get that crop protection and crop science education to have a career that can go from 35-40 years. It’s very important,” Stark said.
“When I got on the Board of Directors, I was the oldest guy on the Board. You’ve been in business for 40 years and you’ve done certain things the same way for 30 years, and my job was to help point that ship in a direction where you could have another 40 years. And one of the accomplishments, again, is the generations have changed and we’ve got a younger board of directors now. We have the enthusiasm of a younger board now, and through the leadership of Gary Silveria (CAPCA Vision Planning Committee Chairman), we have crop teams on the table now.
“Ok, you’ve heard crop teams talked about by Jeremy Brisco (CAPCA Executive Committee Chairman) yesterday. Not everyone can leave the field, leave their office, drive to Sacramento, sit in a room for an hour and a half, and drive back to San Diego or Desert Valley or up to Chico. So, how do we get our intellectual knowledge moved forward and yet still be recognized by who you are and why you do what you do?” said Stark.
“We’ll start with 8 areas of crop teams, but the ideal is we’re inclusive. We’re going to use Skype and Go to Meeting technology, and you don’t have to drive five hours to get there. This is the educational gap change that the younger guys and women can do so much better than us older guys,” Stark noted.
The Right Champions in Place
“But we recognized that gap, pre-drought, when we had the legislative bore, and there was no money in the budgets, no taxes. You know the University of California is going through the same attrition, and all of a sudden, counties couldn’t send their Ag Commissioners to meetings and Extension people couldn’t travel, or we couldn’t replace their expertise,” Stark noted. “We’ve got 3,000 experts. You will travel, you will provide the leadership and you will succeed. My goal in making this happen for the board of directors is that we have the right people in place. Gary Silveria has put the right champions in place on these crop teams, so if you get asked, `do you want to help with almonds, or do you want to help with strawberries,’ the answer is `Yes, I want to help!’”
“And I guarantee you we will be—CAPCA will be—in 3-5 years—the go-to expert at any of those crop protection incidents that will occur. And you will be standing side-by-side with UC Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension people and the commodity board research folks in fighting the problems. That’s what you will accomplish. That is innovative! I know some of my chapters are going to say, `what are the chapters going to do?’ and I’ll say this, `you have a purpose!’”
“Find that purpose. I’m not going to tell you what your purpose is…. you find your purpose. And you make the crop teams successful. And you make the Pathway to PCA successful. It’s all about being positive; one of our speakers said, `don’t say anything you can’t do.’ Hell, I’ve never said I can’t do anything, said Stark.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday urged Congress and the Administration to work together to enact immigration reform in order to drive job creation and economic growth.
The call came as part of the national ‘Day of Action’, which included events in Washington D.C. along with 25 other states.
Several key agricultural and economic industry groups also supported the proposal, including the Western Growers Association, Partnership for a New American Economy, American Farm Bureau Federation and AmericanHort.
The national press conference in the U.S. capital featured leading business association CEOs discussing the critical need for new legislation.
There was also a range of coordinated events throughout the country with state farm bureaus, local businesses and state representatives which aimed to show immigration laws in the business community needed to be modernized across industries, sectors and geographies.
In a release, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said he strongly believed improvements were needed and he would continue to make the case for them.
“While our lawmakers are deadlocked on this issue, business leaders are more determined than ever to fix our immigration system,” Donohue said.
“We need meaningful immigration reform to revitalize our economy and to remain a nation ruled by law, guided by principle, and driven by compassion and common sense.
“We’re going to continue to make the case in the nation’s capital and in every corner of this country, and will use every tool and resource at our disposal. We’re not going to let up until the job gets done.”
Western Growers president and CEO Tom Nassif echoed Donohue’s remarks, adding many currently unauthorized immigrant workers were vital for the agricultural industry.
“The effect of inaction on immigration reform is devastating to the fresh produce industry and consumers. We rely on people to plant and harvest the nutritious and domestic supply of food for Americans and for export,” Nassif said.
“Many of these workers are unauthorized, but are willing and able to do the work. It’s been demonstrated many times that Americans won’t work in the fields, so why won’t our elected officials provide us the means to have a legal, reliable workforce?
If no solution is provided, production will continue to move overseas along with the jobs agriculture supports in rural communities across America.”
American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman also said the current laws were outdated and changes were needed for both farmers and the economy.
“As a nation, we can’t afford to continue with an immigration system we’ve long outgrown and is working more and more against our overall national interest,” he said.
“We urge Congress and the Administration to work together and with us to achieve real immigration reform that addresses the needs of farmers, the economy, as well as the country’s need for border security.”