Conveyor Currents February 7, 2014
April 23-26, 2014 CGFA Annual Convention ~ The Sheraton Resort, Maui, HI
*** Information Click Here ***
May 14-15, 2014 California Animal Nutrition Conference, Radisson Hotel in Fresno, CA
April 22-25, 2015 CGFA Annual Convention - The Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row.
California Dept. of Food & Ag
|Your Association Will Be At The World Ag Expo - Tulare|
Stop by our booth and see your association staff at the World Ag Expo in Tulare - Feb. 11-13. Our booth number is #6108 in the Dairy Pavilion.
See you there!
|Obama Signed Farm Bill After Easy Senate Win|
We are pleased to announce the passage of The Agriculture Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill. President Obama signed the Bill into law at Michigan State University on Friday. Michigan State University was the first land grant university created in the country and is also the alma mater of Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture committee. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will be implementing the newly passed Bill, and Secretary Tom Vilsack designated Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden to take the lead in overseeing implementation.
The Senate this week approved the hard-fought 2014 Farm Bill on a 68-32 vote, following the easy ride to passage in the House last week. However, while Stabenow invited the other three top Farm Bill negotiators - Farm Bill conference chair Rep. Frank Lucas (R, OK), head of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson (D, MN), Lucas' ranking minority member, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R, MS), ranking member of Stabenow's panel, none are attending the signing event. Lucas has a scheduling conflict, he said, and Cochran told one reporter, "It's a long way. It's going to be signed whether I'm there or not."
The Senate floor debate and outcome was predictable, with most Washington, DC, insiders confident the bill would pass if only because both the House and Senate are tired of dealing with it after nearly three years of back and forth.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R, KS), former ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, voted against the bill, saying "it's a bill that goes backwards towards protectionist subsidy programs." He was displeased that commodity program reforms included in earlier versions of the bill did not survive in the final bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R, IA) also voted "nay," unhappy with the way his payment limitation provisions were handled, particularly the decision to hand off defining an "actively engaged" farmer for purposes of program participation to USDA.
Sen. John McCain (R, AZ) was the harshest critic of the legislation. "How are we supposed to restore the confidence of the American people with this monstrosity," he said, referencing the bill's nearly $1-trillion price tag, 80% of which is nutrition/feeding program spending. He said the bill spends too much on "farm subsidies," contains duplicative nutrition programs and "special interest pet projects." Several Democrats voted against the measure purely because it contains cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Former Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D, VT), chair of the Judiciary Committee, said it best: "This was hard fought. It was as complex an effort as I have ever seen and I have been on the agriculture committee for close to 40 years."
|USDA Set to Implement New Farm Bill: Vilsack|
USDA has been working for months to ready its various agencies to implement new authorities and programs, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said this week to a meeting of state agriculture department heads.
Speaking to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) annual policy meeting in Washington, DC, Vilsack said, "As soon as the ink is dry on this bill...we will begin to implement it," but acknowledged "it won't be easy."
USDA has working groups within each title of the Farm Bill, the overall project coordinated by Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. Weekly reports on progress will be sent to Vilsack, who also set up a separate "convening group" to prioritize program implementation so rulemakings do not get backlogged. USDA will detail staff to the White House for review of proposed regulations.
USDA acknowledged the commodity title will be the heaviest lift because of the wholesale shift in how USDA will provide an income safety net and payments to farmers. The task is further complicated because the department needs to get several of the new crop programs in place with just a few weeks until spring planting in some regions.
|House Republican Energy for 2014 Immigration Reform Effort Disappearing|
All of the zeal with which the House GOP last week unveiled its criteria for plowing ahead with broad immigration reform in 2014 seems to be disappearing as the politics trump the policy on how to deal with 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S.
However, several major agricultural organizations this week in the form of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), which helped negotiate the ag guest worker section of the approved omnibus Senate immigration bill, announced they will join with a broader business coalition - Partnership for a New American Economy - to ramp up the push for House immigration reform before the end of this Congress.
At issue is not only the much-publicized "path to citizenship" or amnesty for workers in this country illegally - the House document does not talk "citizenship" but "legal status" - but also the critical need to increase the number of ag guest worker/seasonal worker visas. A bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee last year would create a new program to allow 500,000 temporary ag workers to enter the country for up to 18 months on an annual basis, but does not address their status.
While President Obama said last week he's willing to "look at all options" on immigration reform - referring to the House Republican "principles" -- GOP leaders this week said the chance of getting a bill through their chamber this year is "increasingly doubtful." House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R, WI), who's been in discussions with Senate immigration reform leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D, NY), said last week it's a matter of "(border) security first, no amnesty, and then we might be able to get somewhere."
House Speaker John Boehner (R, OH) threw cold water on the likelihood of a bill this year when he said this week the House would take no action on broad immigration reform until Obama shows he's willing to enforce current law and any changes Congress may approve.
"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws. It's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," Boehner said.
AWC members held a February 5, fly-in in Washington to push their priorities and kick off a month-long lobbying and media campaign directed at getting the House to move. They want at minimum a short-term solution to the need to legitimize over 1.2 million undocumented aliens working in agriculture. They want a "functioning" guest worker program that provides enough new visas to meet the worker needs of the crop, fruit, vegetable, dairy and meat processing industries.
|EPA Wades Through 15,000-plus RFS Comments|
The public comment period on EPA's proposal on how much domestic biofuel should be blended with gasoline in 2014 under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) closed last week, and the agency reports it's received over 15,000 comments. The comments cover EPA's reasoning for proposing a reduction; the overall proposal to reduce or freeze RFS levels for various biofuels, and whether the agency even has the legal authority to reduce the RFS based on annual levels set in law.
Speaking to the annual meeting here of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy this week hinted at possible "adjustments" in the RFS levels proposed by her agency.
|Ag Joins Grocery, Biotech to Push for FDA "Solution" on GM Labeling|
With an expected 26 state legislatures this year expected to consider at least some form of mandatory food labeling over the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients, 29 national organizations, including the American Feed Industry Assn. (AFIA), the National Grain & Feed Assn. (NGFA) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), announced membership in a coalition to push for a "federal solution" to the labeling challenge.
The coalition is co-chaired by the Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA) and the National Corn Growers Assn. (NCGA), and includes AFBF, AFIA, NGFA, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the American Seed Trade Assn., the American Sugarbeet Growers Assn., the Corn Refiners Assn., National Association of Wheat Growers, National Oilseed Processors Assn., National Turkey Federation, North American Millers Assn., and the U.S. Beet Sugar Assn.
GMA organized the coalition after its members spent more than $60 million to defeat GM labeling referenda in California and Washington State. The Senate defeated Farm Bill amendments in 2012 aimed at giving states the authority to set their own GM labeling standards. A couple of New England states have approved such bills, but implementation is contingent upon several other states doing likewise. The New England bills do not impact feed and pet food labels.
The Coalition for Safe & Affordable Food (CFSAF) will push for federal legislation that achieves four goals: Mandatory FDA review of all GM ingredients - in concert with USDA's approval process - before they can be used commercially; federal preemption of state authority to set GM labeling beyond FDA labeling policy; strict guidance on company labeling for the presence or absence of GM ingredients; mandatory labeling for the use of any GM ingredient which has a safety issue, and a federal definition of "natural" when used on human food labels.
The Center for Food Safety (CFS), a staunch supporter of broad GM food/feed labeling, said of the CFSAF launch: "They know that the food movement's power is growing and that labeling is not a matter of if, but when. These companies have failed to win over consumers who overwhelmingly support the mandatory labeling of GMOs and now they're trying to steal away consumer choice in Congress."
| Attending the CGFA Annual Convention -- Just Three Steps |
It is as easy as 1, 2, 3.....
1. Book Your Hotel Room At The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa CLICK HERE
2. Book Your Flight (search your favorite Airline... Alaska, Hawaiian Air, United...)
3. Register On-Line and Use PayPal or Credit Card CLICK HERE
All the program information and forms are on the CGFA Website CLICK HERE
|Update of CVM's What's New - Updated Medicated Feed MillLicenses/Veterinary Feed Directive Distributor Notifications|
|FDA Proposes Clean Truck/Rail Rule under FSMA|
FDA this week published the last of its major rules implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), this proposal covering the safe and clean transport of food, feed and ingredients by truck and rail.
The proposed rule covers truck and rail transport of livestock and poultry feed and pet foods/ingredients, as well as human foods and ingredients. It covers certain shippers and receivers and carriers who transport food within the U.S. Transport is covered whether or not the food or ingredients is offered in or enters interstate commerce, meaning if a shipper moves covered food articles across the country, county to county or just a few blocks, the transport must meet the new sanitation standards.
On the other end of the transport spectrum, the proposed rule also applies to exporters who ship food or ingredients to the U.S. in cargo containers by ship or airplane and arrange for the transfer of that food to rail or motor carrier, if the food is consumed or distributed in the U.S.
The rule contemplates requirements for vehicles and transport equipment, including proposing new requirements for the design and maintenance of vehicles/transport equipment to ensure "it does not cause the food...it transports to become contaminated;" measures to be taken to ensure food is not contaminated, including temperature controls and separation of food from non-food goods in the same load; sharing/exchanging information on prior cargoes, cleaning of equipment and temperature controls among the shipper, carrier and receiver to ensure the vehicles that have previously hauled milk will not introduce allergens into non-dairy foods through cross-contact; training of personnel in sanitary transportation practices and documentation of the training; maintenance of written procedures and records by carriers and shippers on equipment cleaning, prior cargoes and temperature control, and how and when FDA will waive the requirements if it decides the waiver won't create a situation that could lead to food contamination.
Exempt from the proposed clean truck/rail rule are shippers, receivers or carriers with less than $500,000 in total annual sales; raw ag commodity transport done by a farm; food transshipped through the U.S. to another country; food imported for future export, but is not distributed or consumed in the U.S.; transport of shelf-stable food that is completely enclosed in a container; transport of compressed food gases, and transport of live food animals.
Comments are due by May 31, 2014. Following publication of a final rule, small businesses - "businesses other than motor carriers who are not also shippers and/or receivers employing fewer than 500 persons and motor carriers with less than $25.5 million in annual receipts" - will have two years to comply; all other businesses not defined as "small" or not exempted from the rule, would have one year to comply.
|FSMA Feed Rule Highlighted by NASDA|
The animal food performance standards proposed rule published by FDA under its Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) mandate needs more time for review and comment the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) told FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food and Veterinary Services Michael Taylor during his appearance at the group's annual meeting this week in Washington, DC.
The rule, NASDA told Taylor, is sufficiently complex - 400-plus pages - it needs a second round of comments. "We're seeing some initial concerns. There are some areas where, frankly, it's not workable," the group said. It asked Taylor if FDA could treat the feed rule in the same manner as the produce rule, which was reproposed to allow for additional comments. Taylor indicated the agency is looking at options.
The feed industry gets five months to comment on the feed performance standards proposal; the human food industry received 11 months to comment on its version.
|Winter Spurs Propane Shortage, Price Spikes, Calls on White House to Act|
The Midwest Governors Assn. (MGA) this week called on President Obama to help with a severe propane shortage brought on by severe winter weather and to "address the subsequent price increases" brought on by the shortage. The governors' letter to Obama was echoed by several members of the House and Senate. MGA represents the governors of Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin.
In Congress, an effort to assist the states and industry is being led by Reps. Collin Peterson (D, MN) and Adrian Smith (R, WI), and Sens. Al Franken (D, MN) and John Boozman (R, AR).
The governors said they've been trying to handle the shortages in their individual states through declaring states of emergency, loosening regulatory restrictions and providing financial assistance. However, they said, the federal government needs to help, and urged the president to explore regulatory waivers aimed at increasing supplies, including "an extension of the hours of service waiver and temporarily waiving weight limits on the interstate highway system." They also want to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ease loan requirements.
|USDA Sends $20 Million on California Drought; House Passes Water Resource Measure|
In what are just the first actions in what many believe will be an escalating federal effort to assist drought-ravaged California, the House this week approved a bill that would overrule certain water allocation efforts by California authorities, while USDA sent $20 million to the state to assist with drought mitigation efforts.
The House action, which seeks to overturn some actions taken on water allocation by state authorities and whether agriculture is being treated fairly, has already started a battle within the California congressional delegation. While the House measure is backed by the GOP, House Democrats, including California's two Senators, say the bill is overreach, pretty much dooming the measure's chances in the Senate.
The USDA money will go to ag conservation efforts and comes from the Natural Resources Conservation Service's EQIP program. The federal assistance will help with "a suite of scientifically proven conservation techniques."
|Missouri AG Sues California over Egg Production Law|
The attorney general of Missouri this week filed suit in federal court to strike down a California law set to take effect in 2015 that says eggs from hens raised in a manner other than that prescribed by California law cannot be sold in the state. Missouri's top lawyer, Chris Koster, said the California law infringes on interstate commerce protections by imposing standards on out-of-state farmers.
|Cannella and Vidak Introduce Water Bond|
Senators Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) and Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) announced new legislation to put a water bond on the November 2014 ballot that prioritizes water storage and clean drinking water, and protects the Delta water supply. Senate Bill 927 pares down the water bond that the Legislature negotiated in 2009 to focus on water projects that are essential to move, store or clean water.
Concerns have been raised that the cost of the current $11.1 billion water bond is too high and contains too many earmarked regional projects. SB 927 offers a $9.2 billion water bond that maintains $3 billion for water storage, $2.5 billion to protect the Delta water supply and $1 billion for clean drinking water, with a boost of $400 million for disadvantaged communities.
"During our driest year on record, California must invest in increasing our water supply," said Cannella. "It was just four years ago when we faced a similar situation and, if we do not act this year, our problems will grow." "Water is life, it's food, it's jobs. It's a crying shame to let precious water wash out to sea," said Vidak. "It's time for leadership, not delay. It's time Sacramento made water storage and access to clean drinking water a state priority."
|New California Law Requires Employers to Provide "Cool-Down Recovery Periods"|
Epstein Becker Green
In recent years, Cal-OSHA has taken an aggressive stance against exposing employees to potential heat illness, often citing employers and proposing significant penalties for failing to provide to employees who work in high heat conditions with adequate drinking water, shade, training, and/or cool-down periods. Furthermore, as noted by the California Supreme Court in Brinker v. Superior Court, monetary remedies for the denial of meal and rest breaks "engendered a wave of wage and hour class action litigation" when added to the California Labor Code more than a decade ago.
The California Legislature has brought these two trends together by amending California Labor Code Section 226.7 to include penalties for employers' failing to provide "Cool Down Recovery Periods" ("CDRPs") to prevent heat exhaustion or stroke. The requirement to provide CDRPs kicks in January 1, 2014, after which California employers will be required to pay a wage premium for failing to provide CDRPs to employees. This premium pay is akin to the premium pay already required for violations of California's meal period and rest break laws. The amendment is sure to trigger substantial litigation in California, and cross over into Cal/OSHA enforcement as well.
California's Heat Illness Prevention Statute
California employers have long been aware of California's Heat Illness Prevention statute, Title 8 Section 3395(d), which obligates employers to provide training and access to shade and adequate drinking water for employees who work outdoors in high heat conditions. Pursuant to the Heat Illness statute, employers have also been required to maintain one or more shaded areas, with either open-air ventilation, forced ventilation, or forced cooling, and employers are required to allow employee access and encourage employees to access these shaded or cooled areas for cool down periods of no less than five minutes or as employees feel the need to do so. Historical Cal-OSHA Board decisions and Standard Board committee notes have refused to characterize these cool down periods as work-free breaks; i.e., employers may require employees to continue working during periods when they are in shade or air conditioned locations.
Although heat illness has been an enforcement focus across the country, Cal-OSHA is the only OSHA scheme that has its own Heat Illness specific standard. While federal OSHA has increased its use of the General Duty Clause to cite heat illness issues, Cal-OSHA has led the way in this enforcement space.
Mike Taylor, CPCU
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
| CARB Diesel Compliance Training - FEBRUARY 2014|
The California Air Resources Board is offering the following training courses in February. These courses will help diesel vehicle owners, operators, fleet managers, motor carriers, brokers, dealers, and maintenance personnel understand requirements and technologies for complying with California's diesel vehicle regulations. There is no charge for these courses.
Course #504 - In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation Training.
Provides an overview of the Off-Road Regulation, including applicability, requirements currently in effect, future compliance requirements, and an overview of the Diesel Off-Road Online Reporting System (DOORS).
February 19 - Diamond Bar, 2 sessions (9:00-12:00 & 1:00-4:00) February 28 - Stockton (8:30-12:00, abbreviated course)
For more information and to register for 504, please go to
COURSE #520 - How to Comply with CARB Diesel Regulations.
Reviews the inspection process, discusses consequences of non-compliance, and explains how to comply with CARB's regulations affecting most diesel vehicles and equipment operating in the State.
February 7 - Otay Mesa (9:00-2:00, IN SPANISH)
For more information and to register for 520, please go to
COURSE #521 - How to Comply with the Truck and Bus Regulation.
Focuses on compliance with CARB's Truck and Bus Regulation; reporting; proposed changes to the regulation; and includes brief summaries of other diesel regulations, resources, and contact information. (For more comprehensive training on CARB diesel regulations, please attend Course #520)
February 11 - Webinar (9:00-11:00)
February 26 - Webinar (1:30-3:30)
February 28 - Stockton (8:30-12:00 w/ abbreviated 504)
For more information and to register for 521, please go to
Please check the webpages for each course for revisions, cancellations, and additional sessions.
Please let us know if you are interested in hosting any of our courses by emailing email@example.com.
California is in a drought emergency.
Visit www.SaveOurH2O.org for water conservation tips.
|USDA Sets Up Climate "Hubs"|
USDA announced this week it is creating seven "climate hubs" around the country to assist farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in dealing with climate change. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the "Regional Hubs for Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change" will deal with increased risks of fire, flood, drought and invasive pests, and are part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan.
The centers will be located at the National Laboratory for Agriculture and Environment, Ames, IA, with a "sub-hub" in Houghton, MI; Northern Research Station, Durham, NH; Southern Research Station, Raleigh, NC, with a sub-hub in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico; the National Resources Center, Ft. Collins, CO; Grazinglands Research Lab, El Reno, OK; Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, OR, and the Rangeland Management/Jornada Experimental Range, Las Cruces, NM, with a sub-hub in Davis, CA.
| Drought Monitor|
The West: Though several inches of precipitation (liquid equivalent) fell over the northern one-half to two-thirds of California this week (locally 3-4 inches in the central Sierras), significantly more precipitation will be needed to justify improvement with the depiction. The central and southern Sierras report up to 4 inches of SWE, while the northern Sierras report only an inch. The precipitation received this week only keeps the snowpack/water supply from falling further behind. Reservoirs continue to go down. An 8-station index for the northern Sierras (which represents an average of 8 precipitation gauges that span the area from Lake Tahoe to up above Lake Shasta), indicates precipitation amounts of 4.5 inches since the beginning of the Water Year (Oct 1).
Last year at this time, 34.3 inches of precipitation fell, while the average to date is 26.4 inches. The only change to the depiction in California this week was to slightly increase the coverage of exceptional drought (D4) conditions across most of San Luis Obispo County. Two of the larger reservoirs in the County, near the border with Monterey County, are at 5-percent capacity (Lake Nacimiento and Lake San Antonio). The City of Cambria is implementing water restrictions for residents, while many cattle owners are selling off their herds due to lack of feed and water. The higher elevations of western Washington and western Oregon received 2-5 inches of precipitation (liquid equivalent, locally heavier) during the past week, though as is the case with California, significantly more precipitation will be needed to overcome longer-term deficits.
Looking Ahead: During February 6-10, 2014, very heavy precipitation (as much as 7-9 inches, liquid equivalent) is predicted in northern California, and 3-4 inches in western Oregon. This will go a long way in helping to mitigate some of the drought conditions in these areas, though reassessment of conditions next week will be needed to determine the extent of any potential improvements in the Drought Monitor depiction. Along the Southeast coast including northern Florida, 1.0-1.5 inches of rain is expected during the period which will be beneficial to the small areas of abnormal dryness (D0) in that region. With the exception of 3-4 inches of precipitation anticipated over the central Rockies and Wasatch Range, most other areas of the CONUS can expect a half-inch or less of precipitation within the next 5 days.
For the ensuing 5-day period, February 11-15, 2014, there are elevated odds of above-median precipitation for most of the northern and eastern Lower 48 states, and the Alaska Panhandle. Probabilities for above-median precipitation rise up to 60-percent in the Pacific Northwest, and 50-percent over the Gulf and Atlantic Coast states. Below-median precipitation is favored for southern California, much of the Southwest and southern Rockies, the central and southern High Plains, and most of Alaska.
Full Report Here: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx