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Conveyor Currents                                  June 29, 2012
Upcoming Dates
                  

2012


October 10, 2012   Safety Training Workshop Joint CGFA/NGFA Event in Fresno, CA

2013

January 16-17, 2013   Grain & Feed Industry Conference, Embassy Suites, Monterey, CA

April 24-27, 2013  CGFA Annual Convention ~ The Hyatt Regency, Huntington Beach, CA

2014

January 15-16, 2014   Grain & Feed Industry Conference, Embassy Suites, Monterey, CA

April 23-26, 2014  CGFA Annual Convention ~ The Sheraton Resort, Maui, HI 

Quick Links
 
California
 Grain & Feed Assn.
      www.cgfa.org
 
California Dept. of Food & Ag 
   www.cdfa.ca.gov
 
U.S. Dept. of Food & Ag
    www.usda.gov
 
 
In This Issue
Labor Bills Pass Senate Committee
Dairy Supply Lien Passes Committee
Two New Ag Labor Bills Introduced
Governor Makes Key Pesticide Appointment
Updated FDA Registration Process for Medicated Feed Mills
House Farm Bill, Ag Spending, Conservative Backlash Create Possible House Deadlock
FDA to Defer Enforcement of Impending Statutory Deadlines for Key Provisions in Food/Feed Safety Law
Supreme Court Health Care Decision Splits Ag along Ideological Lines
Cal Poly Position Available
Arizona Immigration Decision by Supreme Court Gives Forum for Federal Critics
EPA to Host Public Hearing on Aerial Surveillance
Class Action on Rail Rates Approved by Court
EWG Releases 2012 Farm Subsidy Database; $6.2 Million Goes to Members of Congress
EPA's Budget Cut Deeply by FY2013 House Appropriations Bill
Federal Court Upholds EPA Authority on Greenhouse Gas Regulation
EPA to Host Public Hearing on Aerial Surveillance
Kansas Farmers YouTube Video Goes Viral
Labor Bills Pass Senate Committee

Three ag labor bills passed the Senate Labor Committee this week. Two bills opposed by a broad coalition of ag interests and employer groups are AB 2346 (Butler) Heat Stress for Ag workers - This bill will place the "Heat Stress" regulation for agricultural field workers into statute and has several other provisions including a death benefit of $1,000,000, a private right of action allowing citizen suits similar to Proposition 65. AB 1313 (Allen) Overtime for Agricultural Field Workers - This measure would require agricultural employers to pay overtime for any employee who works more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours in a work week. Both passed on a party line vote. 

 
Conversely, the association is supporting AB 1675 (Bonilla). This bill would subject an unlicensed farm labor contractor to penalties and citations from the Labor Commissioner. Farm labor Contractors have been required to seek a license and obtain minimum Labor Code education requirements for the past five years. However, compliance with these requirements continues to be a challenge in some areas. This bill provides penalties for contractors who continue to not be licensed.  

 

Dairy Supply Lien Passes Committee 

A bill that would update the California Dairy Supply lien passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee with a unanimous 9-0 vote this week. This measure, which is the culmination of a 20 month project by the California Grain and Feed Association, will increase transparency, notice and remove significant barriers to the lien process. Specifically, the measure will mirror the Commercial Code by providing a non judicial foreclosure process when an account goes into default. This should drastically reduce the time and costs associated with collecting on accounts in default. CGFA has been working closely with dairy farmers, bankers, the farm credit system and creameries to create a system where there is more notice to all parties when an account is distressed as well appropriate due process without requiring the time, delays and costs associated with current law. The bill will now be heard in Assembly Appropriations Committee before moving to the floor.

 

Two New Ag Labor Bills Introduced

 

In response to the effective advocacy of ag groups pointing out the challenges with the ag labor legislation, two new more narrowly tailored bills have been introduced. The first, AB 2676 (Calderon) attempts to place a more consistent heat stress regulation in law and increase penalties for violations. The ag coalition is currently opposed but is working with the author to see if a compromise can be reached on this more modest approach to the heat stress issue. AB 197 (Monning) will be amended this week to include language that would provide authority for agencies to obtain funds for back wages to farm workers that were shorted pay by a Farm Labor Contractor from successors. It has occurred that a farm labor contractor shuts down one business and still owes back wages and then starts another, effectively preventing workers from obtaining earned wages. The agricultural coalition is currently working with the author and farm worker advocates to develop language and amendments that can be supported by industry to ensure that workers get paid their wages.  

 

Governor Makes Key Pesticide Appointment

The Governor has appointed Chris Reardon chief deputy director at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Reardon has served in multiple positions at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation since 2003, including chief deputy director and director of legislation. He served as executive director at the Manufacturers Council of the Central Valley from 1996 to 2002. Reardon was chief of staff for Assemblymember Sal Cannella from 1994 to 1996. Chris is from Modesto and has experience balancing the needs for farmers to have crop protection tools with the mandate to help protect the environment and human health.

 

Updated FDA Registration Process for Medicated Feed Mills

  

On Friday, June 22, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine issued the following update stating that it has simplified the electronic registration process that feed mills holding an approved medicated feed mill license are to use to complete the annual drug establishment registration (Form FDA 2656) of their facilities.

 

FDA Implements Simpler Process for Feed Mill Registration

June 22, 2012

 

The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine is announcing a more streamlined process for drug establishment registration (new and annual) of licensed medicated feed mill facilities. By law, licensed medicated feed mill facilities are required to register with the FDA. The improved process for registration uses a new online interface making it easier for users to navigate than the previous procedure. A Dunn & Bradstreet number (DUNS number) is required for the registration process. The DUNS number improves FDA's ability to identify business entities with greater accuracy and specificity.

 

A copy of the FDA user guide for feed mills that describes the updated process is attached. In addition, more information about the electronic registration process is at available on FDA's website at Click Here.   

(Source: NGFA) 

 

House Farm Bill, Ag Spending, Conservative Backlash Create Possible House Deadlock

 

With the number of "working" days in the House and Senate dwindling to a precious few, and with conflicting House leadership priorities - which at this point don't include the 2012 Farm Bill - sucking up floor time, insiders are beginning to speculate out loud whether the House Agriculture Committee can get a bill through committee, through a floor battle, reconciled with the Senate's just-passed Farm Bill, and to the President's desk before current programs expire September 30. And while House Ag Chair Frank Lucas (R, OK) is steadfast in his resolve to begin markup of his committee's version of the 2012 Farm Bill July 11, the last week or so has also seen a series of conflicting reports over which comes first, House ag panel markup or floor action on the FY2013 ag appropriations bill.  

 

Lucas originally postponed his committee's action because the ag spending bill was set for the floor and he wanted members free to battle "onerous" amendments. Then House leadership postponed ag appropriations floor action until "sometime after" the July 4 congressional recess, signaling it will likely be consigned to a session-end omnibus spending package. However, this week's Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act and House Speaker John Boehner's (R, OH) announcement of a House vote to repeal the health care bill to be held July 11 signals much of available House floor time this summer will be dedicated to election-oriented issues. Further complicating Lucas' life is the emergence of a band of conservative House members now calling the Farm Bill the "food welfare bill" because 80%-plus of the bill's cost is wrapped up in food stamps. This bloc of budget hawks and its opposition was expected, and while Lucas has said his bill will reflect food stamp cuts that mirror farm program spending cuts, Democrat opposition to cutting the food stamp program will be significant.  

 

Others are concerned that while food stamps is one target, spending in other areas of the bill is also in the bullseye for members looking to use the Farm Bill as a candidate for slash and burn budget cuts. One staffer this week told a Capitol Hill newspaper, "We're trying to figure out how to keep this bill from coming to the floor altogether. It'll divide the conservative movement from Republicans in such a deep way right before the election that could be devastating." The success of Lucas' July 11 markup will be a major factor in whether House leadership allows the Farm Bill to move to the floor. If it doesn't, then Lucas has a one-year extension of current programs ready to go, effectively kicking the omnibus farm legislation into the next Congress, meaning both House and Senate action begins from scratch.


FDA to Defer Enforcement of Impending Statutory Deadlines for Key Provisions in Food/Feed Safety Law

  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun notifying various industry sectors that the agency will exercise enforcement discretion to delay implementation of three key provisions of the massive food and feed safety law until final regulations are issued. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was enacted on Jan. 4, 2011, mandates that provisions that require grain, feed, feed ingredient, grain processing, milling and other sectors of the commercial food and feed system conduct hazard analyses and implement preventive controls take effect July 3, 2012 - even if FDA does not have regulations in place. FDA's three proposed rules intended to implement hazard analysis and preventive controls for produce (leafy greens, fruits and vegetables), human food, and animal and pet food remain under review within the administration. While there are indications these proposed regulations may be issued later this summer or early fall, it is expected to take many months for FDA to review the plethora of comments likely to be submitted before final regulations are issued. A third set of proposed regulations requiring importers of products intended for use in food or feed to implement foreign supplier verification programs also remains under review and has not been issued yet. The statutory deadline for this section of the law is Jan. 4, 2013.

In a letter sent to the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Snack Foods Association, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael R. Taylor wrote that FDA will expect to enforce compliance with these new FSMA requirements for hazard analysis, preventive controls and foreign supplier verification within the "timeframes that will be described in the final rules." Those timeframes are expected to include a significant phase-in period, ranging from six to 18 months or longer, depending upon the size of the affected firm. However, Taylor's letter does remind facilities that compliance with existing good manufacturing practice regulations, such as those applying to medicated animal feed, and other food/feed safety-related provisions of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act remain in effect and are subject to inspection and enforcement.  

The upshot of FDA's message is that FDA does not plan to enforce compliance with the hazard analysis, preventive controls and foreign supplier verification sections of FSMA until sometime after the final regulations are issued. As a result, it is anticipated that FDA inspectors will not cite companies on the Form FDA 483 for specific deviations from these FSMA requirements - despite the statutory deadlines. Nor are inspectors to cite companies for violations for failure to provide access to records required under circumstances described in these sections of the law until after final regulations are issued. But some legal experts have opined that FDA inspectors may ask to see evidence of progress from industry firms toward implementing the new FSMA requirements - even prior to final regulations - as they did following enactment of food and feed facility security regulations issued in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Companies also may see FDA inspectors continuing to seek access to records on a voluntary basis, as they have done more assertively in recent months - in several instances even when not authorized under FSMA.  

The NGFA and American Feed Industry Association have written to FDA requesting that the agency issue a similar enforcement-discretion letter specifically addressing animal feed and feed ingredients. NGFA's strategic partner - Pet Food Institute - sent a separate letter requesting similar assurances for the pet food sector.   (Source: NGFA)
 
 
Supreme Court Health Care Decision Splits Ag along Ideological Lines

  

Immediate reactions to this week's Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are likely a bit premature given the 130-page decision has yet to be fully analyzed, but general reaction to decision by ag groups pretty much followed the political leanings of the organization. While the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) took a "this still needs to be fixed" position, according to reports, the National Farmers Union (NFU) praised the decision. The immediate political victory was given to President Obama since ACA was the hallmark of his first year in office. The issue, however, remains the cost of the overall program, how insurance companies will pass along any increased costs and how employers will react when it comes to hiring. Some say the 50-full-time employee threshold for coverage under ACA means many employers will simply hire more part-time employees, while others contend hiring decisions will be deferred until after the November election.

 

However, some political pundits contend the Supreme Court decision hands the GOP a political plum in that the high court's decision that the personal mandate section of ACA is a "tax" - many House members have already put out releases calling the mandate "the single biggest tax increase in American history"-means the Republicans can rev up their anti-tax campaigns. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) embraced duel issues - Obama Administration overreaching of authority and over taxation - reminding media this week that the President has repeatedly contended the health care mandate is not a tax. Still others speculate the GOP mantra of "repeal, repeal, repeal" is an unwise strategy because it ignores sections of the law popular with most citizens, e.g. elimination of barriers based on preexisting conditions and the ability to keep children under 26 years old on parents' policies, and that pushing for full repeal may actually increase voter support for the law. Currently, about 65% of the American public opposes the ACA generally, according to reports.


Cal Poly Position Available:  Animal Nutrition Center Manager

  

POSITION DESCRIPTION:

 

The Animal Science Department is one of the largest and most dynamic programs in the United States. The department offers a wide assortment of extra- and co-curricular activities and is very involved in applied contract research. The department is supported by extensive facilities for beef cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, and swine, along with veterinary support from an on-site clinic. This large and complex department serves an enrollment of 575 Animal Science majors. The department is comprised of a Department Head, 15 tenure-track faculty, 7 full- and part-time faculty and 2 teaching associates, 2.5 administrative support positions, and 3 technicians.

 

Independently, under general supervision and coordination with the Department Head, this position is responsible for a full range of management support duties. This include: providing full range of supervision over support staff positions which includes the supervision of a varying number of student interns, enterprise students and additional Animal Nutrition Center personnel; training and providing assignments to interns and employees; coordinating assignments with faculty project coordinator; training, oversight and review of Animal Nutrition Center employees, and preparing written evaluations of students' performances at completion of projects. Other duties include: supply chain management and logistic coordination of incoming and outgoing products (department wide), project management for department projects up to and occasionally exceeding 2 million dollars. Oversight and management of production animal units and personnel on an as needed basis, including but not limited to Poultry Center, Swine Center, Sheep unit, and Beef Operations. Those responsibilities may include commercial animal enterprise management.

 

Click Here for Full Position Description and Instructions on How To Apply 

 

Arizona Immigration Decision by Supreme Court Gives Forum for Federal Critics

  

A decision early this week by the Supreme Court allowing states to check the immigration status of individuals stopped for offenses, but not to question the citizenship status of other citizens has given critics of federal immigration programs from both sides of the issue plenty of opportunity to criticize current immigration efforts or lack thereof. Most grower groups contend the high court's decision does little to help them deal with millions of farm workers in the U.S. illegally, or to find solutions for the "broken" H-2A guest worker visa program. Several other states with laws similar to that enacted in Arizona must now rework those laws to meet the Supreme Court decision which struck three sections of the Arizona law but left intact law enforcement's ability to confirm citizenship when an individual is stopped or arrested for a separate offense. Immigrant groups agreed with the problems, but decried the lack of political will in Congress to find a path to citizenship for those "who are here, who can prove they've been here and done whatever they are supposed to do and contributed to our economy."


Cal/OSHA launches Targeted Confined Space Emphasis Initiative

  

Much like the Heat Stress enforcement initiative of 2010, The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) & Cal/OSHA have launched a targeted Confined Space Compliance Initiative for 2012. This initiative targets all industries (Ag, Construction, Trucking, Golf, etc.).  The InterWest Risk Management Department has compiled a short informational brochure  (please see attachments).  

 

.pdf copy of Cal-OSHA Confined Space Emphasis Program   /  .pdf coy of Annual Program Review  

 

For More Information and/or Assistance Contact:

 

Mike Taylor, CPCU

Vice President

InterWest Insurance Services, Inc.

100 Pringle Avenue, North Tower, Suite 550

Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 977-4104 Office

(800) 464-0077 Toll Free

(925) 977-4150 Fax

(510) 206-5505 Mobile

CA Lic # 0B01094

www.iwins.com

mtaylor@iwins.com

 

Class Action on Rail Rates Approved by Court

   

The U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, approved an order last week certifying a class action suit brought against Class I railroads, an action that alleges four Class I lines colluded to inflate fuel surcharges. The plaintiffs allege the BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads conspired to fix prices in violation of the Sherman Act. The order covers "all entities or persons that at any time from July 1, 2003 until December 31, 2008 purchased rate-unregulated rail freight transportation services directly from one or more of the Defendants, as to which Defendants assessed a stand-alone rail freight fuel surcharge applied as a percentage of the base rate for the freight (or where some or all of the fuel surcharge was included in the base rate through a method referred to as 'rebasing')," according to the National Industrial Transportation Leagues' (NITLeague) reporting of the decision.


EWG Releases 2012 Farm Subsidy Database; $6.2 Million Goes to Members of Congress

 

The 2012 version of a searchable database allowing users to find out who receives direct farm program payments and how much, was unveiled this week by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which also pointed out nearly $6.2 million in direct payments - EWG calls them "subsidies" - was collected by members of Congress and their families from 1995 through 2011. The database, constructed by EWG based on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed with USDA, tracks about $240 billion in commodity, crop insurance and disaster payments, and $37 billion in conservation program payments paid over that same 15-year period.   EWG points out five crops - corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and wheat - receive 90% of all farm payments, and that since 1995, just 10% of farms received 75% of payments. The listing of congressional farm payment recipients and the updated database can be found by going to www.ewg.org.


EPA's Budget Cut Deeply by FY2013 House Appropriations Bill

  

The House Appropriations Committee this week approved along party lines its FY2013 Interior-Environment spending bill appropriating $28 billion for the Department of Interior, EPA, the Forest Service and related agencies, and in that package, EPA's budget was slashed 17%. The overall spending level is $1.2 billion below last year's level, and $1.7 billion less than the President requested. Committee action centered on the EPA cuts, including an 80% cut in the Land & Water Conservation Fund; a nearly $800-million cut in the Water State Revolving Fund, and climate change programs were in for a nearly 30% cut. The bill also included a number of policy riders on mine clean-ups and coal-fired utilities designed to prevent EPA from proceeding with rulemakings. However, it's apparent most spending bills are destined to be lumped into an omnibus package that will be enacted as a single unit, meaning most extraneous measures will be stripped out of the bills.


Federal Court Upholds EPA Authority on Greenhouse Gas Regulation

 

The U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, this week upheld EPA's 2009 "endangerment finding," the basis for the agency's action on regulating greenhouse gas emissions, saying the finding is "neither arbitrary or capricious." "EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act is unambiguously correct," the court said in ruling the plaintiffs had no standing to challenge the agency's authority. The original court action challenged not only the agency's authority but the science upon which EPA moved to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as part of its climate change initiative. Democrats unanimously praised the ruling, which experts say leaves little room for a Supreme Court review, but said they fully expect House Republicans to bring amendments forth to reverse the court's decision.


EPA to Host Public Hearing on Aerial Surveillance

  

EPA will hold public meetings in Iowa and Nebraska to answer questions while explaining its use of aerial surveillance as part of feedlot compliance investigations. The hearings were announced shortly after the entire Nebraska congressional delegation sent a letter to EPA asking for an explanation of the EPA fly-overs. When the response from EPA Region 7 didn't satisfy the delegation, Sen. Mike Johanns (R, NE) got into dueling Farm Bill amendments on the floor with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D, CA) over the value of the flights and whether they should be halted until explanation is forthcoming. Both amendments failed. Producers see the surveillance as an invasion of privacy and unnecessary. EPA says the fly-overs provide evidence of violations, and if evidence is found, an on-ground inspection is ordered. The Nebraska meeting will be held on Monday, July 2 from 6:30-8:30 in Lexington, NE, at the Holiday Inn Express. The next meeting is in Carroll, IA, and will held August 30.


Kansas Farmers YouTube Video Goes Viral

  

The Peterson Brothers, three siblings from a cattle and wheat operation in Assaria, KS, this week became the latest YouTube viral video sensation with their song parody "I'm Farming and I Grow It" video designed to remind America where its food comes from.  The brothers - Greg, Kendel and Nathan - posted their parody of the 2011 pop hit "I'm Sexy and I Know It" on Monday, June 24 and by the end of the day, it had about 3,000 viewings.  By 10 a.m. EDT June 29, nearly 1.6 million YouTube viewers had seen the video thanks to an aggressive community and industry promotion campaign. The sheer quality and entertainment value of the video, which the brothers produced to remind consumers not to take food production for granted and to show what real farm life is like, has made the Peterson Brothers media darlings. They've been besieged by interview requests, and traveled to New York City to appear June 29 on ABC's "Good Morning America" and Fox News.  The Peterson Brothers video can be viewed here:    

I'm Farming and I Grow It
I'm Farming and I Grow It

 

In a related move, the U.S. Farm & Ranch Alliance (USFRA) announced this week it's looking for a few good farmers to be spokespeople for the group. USFRA, funded by checkoff dollars from participating ag groups, is chaired by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman, who said this week, "USFRA is looking for standout farmers and ranchers who are proud of what they do, eager to share their stories of continuous improvement with others and who are actively involved today in sharing those stories." Entries will be accepted through September 8, 2012, at  www.fooddialogues.com, with 10-15 finalists announced at the November, 2012 Food Dialogues event in New York City. At that point, public voting will be conducted online. The winners of this "Faces of Farming and Ranching" contest will participate in national media interviews, advertising and public appearances, and will receive a $10,000 stipend and a $5,000 contribution to their favorite ag-related or local charity.