grain pictureCGFA logo
Conveyor Currents                             February 15, 2013
Upcoming Dates

March 14, 2013 - CGFA District Meeting and Golf Tournament in Madera, CA  (flyer)

March 20, 2013 - California AG Day at the Capitol, Sacramento, CA (click)

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

May 15-16, 2013   California Animal Nutrition Conference.  Radisson Hotel in Fresno, CA


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
 Grain & Feed Assn.
California Dept. of Food & Ag
U.S. Dept. of Food & Ag
In This Issue
CGFA District Meeting and Golf Tournament
Ag Labor Bills Introduced
Assembly Transportation Committee Holds Freight Movement Hearing
Two New Members Appointed to the Energy Commission
FDA Sets Two More FSMA Meetings
Direct Payments Take Major Hit in Senate Sequester Plan
USDA Says Biofuel Production Will Continue to Rise
Casey Out, Cowan In on Senate Agriculture Committee
Climate Change Legislation Teed up by Boxer
Grassley Reintroduces Bipartisan Farm Program Payment Limit Bill
Johanns Announces Bills to Increase EPA Response
U.S. Requires Poster Change
CGFA's 89th Annual Convention Plans
CGFA District Meeting and Golf Tournament

Please join California Grain & Feed Associationon
Thursday, March 14, 2013 at the


Riverbend Golf Club in Madera, CA for the Northern/Southern San Joaquin Valley /

Sacramento Valley/South Bay District Meeting and Golf Tournament.


Registration will begin at 11:00 am for a12:00 noon shotgun start and will include a sack lunch on the cart. A dinner and prize ceremony will follow at approximately 5:00 pm. Cost: $100 per player includes golf,cart, range balls, lunch, dinner and prizes.All skill levels are welcome to play. CGFA staff will give you a short update on the association activities during dinner.



Ag Labor Bills Introduced

So far this legislation session two bills targeting ag labor have been introduced.  


SB 25 (Steinberg) Agriculture Labor Disputes - This measure would amend the binding arbitration timelines for ag labor disputes.     


AB 10 (Alejo) Minimum Wage Indexed to Inflation - This bill would increase the minimum wage on January 1, 2014 to not less than $8.25 an hour, on January 1, 2015 to not less than $8.75 an hour and on January 2016, not less than $9.25 an hour. It would also require the minimum wage to be adjusted annually consistent with the consumer price index.


We expect more to be introduced before next week which is the bill introduction deadline.


Assembly Transportation Committee Holds Freight Movement Hearing


On Monday February 11, the Assembly Transportation Committee held an information hearing to discuss freight movement in California including through ports, rail and truck. The topics included development of a long range plan that identifies necessary infrastructure investment in an environmentally sustainable manner. The committee heard testimony from leaders at CalTrans, the Air Resources Board, Water Board, and stakeholders including Union Pacific, BNSF, Trucking Association and environmental groups. The information gathered is intended to be incorporated into legislation being authored by the chair, Bonnie Lowenthal. AB 14 (Lowenthal) State Freight Plan the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency to develop a state freight plan for the long term movement of freight.

Two New Members Appointed to the Energy Commission


The California Energy Commission is important because they have authority to cite power plants, oversee biofuels policy, building standards and energy efficiency requirements.


David Russell Hochschild, 41, of Berkeley, has been appointed to the California Energy Commission. Hochschild was vice president of external relations at Solaria Corporation from 2007 to 2012. He served as a San Francisco public utilities commissioner from 2007 to 2008. Hochschild was executive director at PV Now from 2006 to 2007, co-founder and director of policy at the Vote Solar Initiative from 2002 to 2006, special assistant to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown from 1999 to 2001 and program director at The President's Award, Port Alfred, South Africa from 1996 to 1997. Hochschild earned a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $128,109. Hochschild is a Democrat.  


Janea Ashanti Scott, 39, of Arlington, Virginia, has been appointed to the California Energy Commission. Scott has been deputy counselor for renewable energy and special assistant to the counselor at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary since 2009. She served in multiple positions at the Environmental Defense Fund from 2000 to 2009, including senior attorney and staff attorney. Scott was an AmeriCorps member working on the San Francisco Urban Service Project from 1996 until 1997. She earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Colorado Law School and a Master of Science degree in earth systems from Stanford University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $128,109. Scott is a Democrat.


FDA Sets Two More FSMA Meetings

FDA will hold two more meetings on the produce safety and human food preventative control proposed rules emanating from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This brings to three the total number of public meetings FDA will hold. The first is Feb. 28-March 1, at USDA in Washington, DC; the second meeting will be March 11-12, at the Westin Hotel in Chicago, and the third meeting will be held March 27-28 at the Crown Plaza Downtown Convention Center in Portland, OR. There are notification requirements for attending these meetings, as well as criteria and deadlines which must be met for presenting oral or written comments. Details can be obtained by contacting Courtney Treece at, or by calling 704-258-4983, or faxing questions to 469-854-6992.


Direct Payments Take Major Hit in Senate Sequester Plan, but Free up Dollars


In a move that protects major USDA programs, including meat inspection and disaster payments from the effects of mandatory sequestration come March 1, the Senate's $110-billion package unveiled this week includes elimination of all direct farm program payments beginning in FY2014, netting a savings of about $27.5 billion over 10 years. The cuts are part of a package Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV) said he wants to bring to the Senate floor the week of February 25. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D, MI), who also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, confirmed February 14, the Senate's bill - weighted almost evenly between spending cuts and "revenue" actions - is designed, in part, to fix funding gaps in the recent 2008 Farm Bill extension. It preserves money to pay for meat inspection and similar programs and provides up to $3.5 billion to pay for disaster programs retroactive to 2012, along with renewable energy, rural small business, specialty crops, organic production and new and beginning farmer programs.  


Stabenow said she's had general discussions her House counterparts about the proposed cuts. The combined cost of the Senate's package -- $31 billion - represents a 53% reduction in USDA spending, said House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R, OK), who called the Senate plan an "attack on rural America." He said the Senate action, if successful, interferes with the respective committees' ability to write a new Farm Bill. Stabenow countered that if the Senate cuts became law, the ag committees would no longer need to cut those spending programs during Farm Bill action. Lucas said while farmers and ranchers want to be part of the solution to the "fiscal crisis," he said last year's committee-passed Farm Bill struck the balance needed between program reform and budget cuts.


USDA Says Biofuel Production Will Continue to Rise; Legislation on Ethanol Popping Up

U.S. biofuels production - primarily ethanol and biodiesel - will continue to increase over the next decade, but at a slower rate than in the previous 10 years, USDA reported this week. Meanwhile, ethanol production continues to be the target of legislation. Sens. Jeff Flake (R, AZ) and David Vitter (R, LA) introduced legislation dubbed the "Phantom Fuel Reform Act," a bill that would change the federal Renewable Fuel Standard on cellulosic ethanol to reflect the fact there is almost no commercial production of the fuel. A similar bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Gregg Harper (R, MS) and Jim Matheson (R, UT).  


Meanwhile, Sen. Roger Wicker (R, MS) said he'll introduce the first Senate bill to reverse EPA's allowance of 15% blends of ethanol and gasoline, so-called "E15." The bill would freeze the blend rate at 10% and prohibit EPA from raising it to 15%, action that, if successful, would nullify the agency's action last year to permit E15 for use as a fuel blend in cars made after 2001. Similar legislation was introduced in the last Congress by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R, WI). On biofuels production, USDA reported that in 2004-2005, corn used for ethanol totaled 1.323 billion bushels, or about 11% of 2004 corn production; by 2011-2012, corn used for ethanol totaled 5.011 billion bushels, or about 40% of the 2011 corn crop, USDA said. For 2012-2013, USDA sees corn for ethanol use dropping to 4.5 billion bushels, but still consuming 42% of the drought-reduced corn crop. Biofuel production will steadily increase in the future, but likely not exceed 2011-2012 production until 2020-2021.


Casey Out, Cowan In on Senate Agriculture Committee


Sen. Bob Casey (D, PA) surrendered his Senate Agriculture Committee seat in favor of a new spot on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, making room for interim Sen. William "Mo" Cowan (D, MA) to join the ag panel, the first Massachusetts Senator to sit on the panel since 1870. Cowan, who was appointed to the seat vacated by Sen. John Kerry (D, MA) when he was confirmed as Secretary of State, said he grew up on a working farm in North Carolina, and would work to get aid for Massachusetts' fisherman in the Farm Bill.  


The full committee also announced subcommittee chairs this week, though the subcommittee system is not as active in the Senate as in the House. Cowan is one of three freshmen Senators who will chair subcommittees as he takes over the nutrition, specialty crops, food and ag research subcommittee. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D, ND) will chair the jobs, rural economic growth and energy innovation subcommittee, and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D, IN) will chair the commodities, markets, trade and risk management subcommittee. The other two subcommittees will be chaired by Sen. Mike Bennet (D, CO) on conservation, forestry and natural resources, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) on livestock, dairy, poultry, marketing and agricultural security.


Climate Change Legislation Teed up by Boxer; Water Bill to see Markup Next Month

The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, chaired by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D, CA), will markup in March its version of reauthorization of federal law that governs flood control, waterways navigation and environmental restoration projects, while at the same time Boxer announced she plans to move ahead on climate change legislation despite Republican opposition, and wants a bill ready for floor action this summer. The climate change plan will look much like a bill unveiled this week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, VT), which Boxer supports, legislation which would impose a federal tax on carbon emissions of $20 per ton on carbon and methane emissions, with the "fee" increasing by 5.6% each year for 10 years. Boxer said the tax plan would target 2,869 of the nation's largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and cover about 85% of total national emissions. She also pointed out at a press conference this week with Sanders that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the plan would generate $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years.  


While the money would be spent on projects that include alternative energy research and debt reduction, about 60% would be refunded to taxpayers to offset increased costs in electricity and transportation fuel costs that would result from the new tax. Committee Republicans have already slammed the proposal, and Boxer acknowledged the committee's action on climate change will be contentious, telling one reporter, "This won't be pretty." GOP critics contend the new tax on carbon won't only affect energy prices, but will increase the cost of all manufactured goods and services in the U.S. On the waterways action, Boxer has not released a bill, but says she'll have a plan ready to go next month, a move observers contend is ambitious. The plan is expected to include an overhaul of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authority, a move to satisfy committee ranking member Sen. David Vitter (R, LA) and garner some bipartisan support. The federal waterways reauthorization, expected every two years, has not been tackled by the committee in almost six years. Rep. Bill Schuster (R, PA), chair of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, said he will also take up the water bill this year, but has given no timeline for action.


Grassley Reintroduces Bipartisan Farm Program Payment Limit Bill

Four bipartisan Senators, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R, IA), introduced legislation this week to cap annual farm program payments at $125,000 per farmer, or $250,000 per farm couple. This is Grassley's latest attempt to cap farm program payments, action he's taken several times over the last several years. This time he's joined in the effort by Sens. Tim Johnson (D, SD), Mike Enzi (R, WY) and Sherrod Brown (D, OH). Grassley's bill would cap at $50,000 all commodity program benefits, except the marketing loan program. The benefits cap, Grassley said, would apply to any alternative to direct payments developed as part of a new five-year Farm Bill. Marketing loan program payments would be capped at $75,000. As before, the bill redefines who qualifies for farm program benefits, limiting federal checks to those who are "actively engaged in managing the farming operation." A single off-farm manager would be permitted, a move aimed at general partnerships with multiple managers. Currently, farm program benefits are capped at $105,000 per farmer, $210,000 per couple, with no cap on marketing loan program benefits.


Johanns Announces Bills to Increase EPA Response

Sen. Mike Johanns (R, NE) this week announced he'll introduce a series of bills aimed at increasing EPA transparency and accountability, what he called "common sense reforms." Johanns said his constituents in Nebraska report almost unanimous dissatisfaction with EPA, its rulemaking and its understanding of the impact of its actions. "Nebraskans think that EPA doesn't understand domestic businesses, nor does it understand job creation...they think the agency is not transparent, arrogant and oftentimes, unresponsive," Johanns said on the Senate floor. One bill will bring EPA guidance documents under the scope of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to overrule agency regulations. 


Currently, only rules are covered under this clause. This has allowed EPA to use guidance documents to expand the agency's regulatory reach without being subjected to Congressional oversight. Johanns' legislation would close this loophole. The second bill requires EPA's Inspector General to report to Congress twice a year on the agency's progress in meeting regulatory reporting requirements. Under current law, EPA must publish updates to its regulatory agenda in April and October each year. EPA ignored this requirement in 2012, Johanns said, publishing just one update in 2012. The third bill reduces EPA's budget by $20,000 every week until EPA meets its legal deadlines for regulatory agenda-setting. This proposal is modeled after a provision in last year's bipartisan highway bill to encourage federal agencies to complete evaluation of transportation projects in a timely fashion, he said. The final component of the package promotes transparency and cooperation with state governments by requiring EPA to provide timely information and technical assistance to states working to comply with EPA mandates. Environmental statutes firmly establish states as equal partners with EPA.


U.S. Requires Poster Changefor Employers of 50 or More


Employers with 50 or more employees are required to display an updated federal family leave poster starting March 8.


The final rule outlining the requirement was issued just last week by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to implement federal laws expanding Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections.

The FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees. The FMLA changes were legislated by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 and the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (signed in 2009).


The regulations were issued for public comment February 15, 2012, and the comment period closed on April 30, 2012.


CGFA's 89th Annual Convention Plans

It is time to mark your calendar and book your room for the 2013 CGFA Annual Convention.

April 24-27, 2013

Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort and Spa


Highlights from the Business Session & Speakers

  • Doing What Matters - Steering Science to Inform Public Policy 
    • by Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., UC Davis
  • U.S. Didn't Fall Off the Cliff...Now What? Impacts: Economy/Markets /Policy                           
    • by Jim Wiesemeyer, Senior VP, Farm and Trade Policy, Informa Economics, Inc.
  • CGFA Annual Meeting and Report
    • by President John Pereira, Frontier Ag Group & EVP, Chris Zanobini
  • The U.S. Dairy Market Outlook and What It Means to California  
    • by Mary Ledman, Daily Dairy Report, Dairy Economist   
  • Weather Trends, Climate Change, and Energy:  Implications for California Agriculture            
    •   by Steve Goreham, Climate Science Coalition of America
  • Keynote Speaker:   Mack Dryden


Registration Materials and Packets of Information have been mailed!  Contact Donna Boggs @ with any questions.