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Conveyor Currents
                     June 17, 2016

In This Issue
Meet the 2016 Summer Interns
California Legislative Report
Lawmakers, Industry Block Language in Defense Bill to Force "Meatless Mondays" on the Military
WOTUS Battle Escalates, House Panel Threatens OMB with Contempt; House, Senate Move to Block
No Senate Deal on GE Food Labeling Yet
Energy Bill Held Hostage by Drought Provisions
House Subcommittee to Hold RFS Overview Hearing Next Week
USDA Lowers Stocks for Corn, Beans; Wheat Way Up
Upcoming Events
Upcoming Dates
October 26, 2016:
CGFA and NGFA Joint Grain Safety Seminar
DoubleTree, Fresno, CA

January 11-12, 2017  

Grain & Feed Industry Conference  

Embassy Suites, Monterey Bay, CA

April 26-29, 2017    

CGFA Annual Convention

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino

May 10 - 11, 2017:

California Animal Nutrition Conference (CANC)

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Meet the 2016 Summer Interns
Michelle Burns will be serving as an AAMSI communication
intern for the summer. During her time here, she will work closely with the communications team to carry out various communication tasks, including the CGFA newsletter, social media channels and CGFA Careers Center outreach.

From raising pigs to competing in beauty pageants, Michelle has developed the skills to be not only an agriculture advocate, but a confident leader as well. Michelle began her agriculture journey at the age of five when she participated in 4-H. There she volunteered in many community activities, raised pigs, sheep, and rabbits, and held every officer position available. She fostered her love for agriculture throughout high school when she decided to actively take part in her FFA chapter all while obtaining her FFA State Degree. After graduation, Michelle competed in three beauty pageants in which she shared her passion of agriculture with others. Her experiences in these competitions allowed her to strengthen her skills in public speaking communication, and leadership.

Michelle is majoring in a field of study that incorporates each of these skills directly - Agricultural Communication. She transferred from Cuesta Community College to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall of 2014 with two Associates Degrees under her belt and a thriving desire to study agriculture. She has enjoyed her studies at Cal Poly and will be graduating in December 2016.

Madison Albiani will be serving as one of AAMSI's communications interns for the summer. Over the course of the summer, Madison will assist staff on various communications tasks and projects, including the Careers Center, CGFA website and social media.

Madison is the daughter of two agriculture educators and grew up raising beef cattle in Elk Grove, California. She has applied her passion for livestock and agriculture through her involvement in organizations such as the FFA, Young Cattlemen's, and Young Farmers and Ranchers. Through these experiences, she developed a strong interest in animal science which led her to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and major in Animal Science.

Throughout her time at Cal Poly, Madison has had the opportunity to represent her college at the campus wide level by serving on the ASI Board of Directors. In this role she is entrusted with advocating for her college and serving as the official voice of students for the university. Madison will be entering her senior year at Cal Poly in the fall and upon graduating she plans to find her place in the agriculture industry possibly as a sales representative for an agricultural company, a representative of an agriculture association, or an agriculture educator. Madison knows that her passion for the agriculture industry runs deep and can't wait to see what the future holds.

California Legislative Report
By Dennis Albiani, Legislative Advocate

Ag Overtime Bill Returns

Just days after a stunning defeat of the ag overtime bill on the Assembly floor, the author of the legislation "gutted and amended" an Education Code bill in the Senate and replaced it with substantially similar language to the ag overtime bill that was defeated.  AB 1066 (Gonzalez) would change the current ag overtime rules which require time and one half after 10 hours worked in a day and after 6 work days in a week, and double time after 12 hours, to require time and one half after 8 hours and after 5 days worked in a week.  The bill is scheduled to be heard in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on June 29th. 

There is a strong coalition of ag and business representatives advocating against this legislation.  The coalition will continue to focus on the unique aspects of the industry managing planting, harvesting seasonality and weather, the impact on the gross income of the farmworker if they were restricted to 40 hours in a week.  Additionally, the coalition is working on educating legislators on key issues such as:
  • The existing overtime rules for agriculture employees are not unique to agriculture.  There are several industries that have similar rules because of the key elements of their industry including ski lift operators, camp counselors, ambulance workers, nurses and truck drivers.  The unique requirements for these industries drive the overtime rules. 
  • California's overtime rules for agriculture are the most progressive for agriculture workers in the country.  California is only one of 6 states that provides overtime for agriculture employees and the only to provide it after just 10 hours. 
  • With the minimum wage being raised to $15 an hour in the near future, this is an additional compensation benefit that makes California agriculture less competitive, will reduce the job opportunities for all and promote mechanization. 
Click here to view the bill.  We encourage all people concerned with this legislation to contact your local legislator and ask them to oppose AB 1066 (Gonzalez)

Legislature Passes Budget, Trailer Bills Lag Behind

On June 15th, just in time to meet the constitutional deadline, California Legislators passed a comprehensive budget for the state.  The $122.5 billion package repeals a controversial cap on welfare payments, includes more money for higher education, raises rates for child care providers and puts an additional $3 billion into the state's rainy-day reserve, including an optional $2 billion shift demanded by Gov. Jerry Brown to protect against a feared economic downturn.

While the budget passed and will likely be acted upon by Governor Brown prior to the July 1st deadline, other budget proposals are weeks away from action, if not longer. Talks will continue on trailer bills that implement policy and key issues, such as spending $400 million on affordable housing in return for easing local government's land use authority, and how to allocate money from the states cap and trade program.  No decisions were included on issues important to agriculture such as increased biomass funding to retain some of the plants that are shutting down, funding for dairy digesters and funding to help ease the burdens of the low carbon fuels standard implementation. 

Key funding of interest to the industry includes:
  • $1.93 million to Animal Health Branch at CDFA to implement SB 27 (Hill) which regulates antibiotic use in livestock.
  • $2.5 million to provide market matching funds for nutrition programs
  • $192,000 of ongoing funding to minimize threats from avian influenza
  • $200,000 to continue studying the impact of the drought on agricultural operations.
  • $2 million to implement the medical marijuana regulation and safety act. 
Unfortunately, the proposed $15 million increase for pest prevention activities for Pierces Disease, Asian Citrus Psyllid and overall plant health and prevention did not make it into the final proposal.  The association will continue to update you on trailer bills as they are considered. 

Big Week for Key Agriculture Legislation

As the July 1st deadline for legislation to pass policy committees nears, key legislation is heading to the second house for policy hearings next week.  On June 21st Senate Ag will hear key bills on:

AB 2504 (Asm Ag Committee) the bill establishes an additional assessment on alfalfa seed to fund research.  CA Seed Association opposes because this is an unprecedented use for seed assessments and there are already three other funding sources for this research. 

AB 1810 (Levine) This measure amends the CA Seed Act by exempting seed libraries and seed exchanges from the CA seed law.  The association has taken a neutral stance. 

AB 1811 (Dodd) This bill revises the organic fertilizer program at CDFA to allow for more flexibility for licensing, contracting and inspections and registration. 

AB 655 (Quirk) This measure will revise the Rendering Program to provide additional funds for enforcement.  The bill is sponsored by CGFA and Pacific Coast Rendering Association but opposed by the waste industry. 

AB 1826 (Stone)
This bill reforms the California Organic Program by restructuring fees, oversight and reporting requirements.  This has been a controversial bill that has been negotiated to most parties supporting or neutral.

Lawmakers, Industry Block Language in Defense Bill to Force "Meatless Mondays" on the Military
A move by animal rights activists to impose a "meatless Monday"-type requirement on the Department of Defense (DOD) - no meat served one day a week in DOD and Coast Guard cafeterias - was blocked this week when Rep. Adrian Smith (R, NE) successfully amended the FY2017 DOD spending package to bar any spending to implement any such requirement.

Earlier in the week, a similar effort led by Sen. Joni Ernst (R, IA), a retired lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, was overwhelmed by the Senate floor schedule for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), blocking an Ernst amendment requiring DOD to offer military personnel "meat options every day that meet or exceed the nutritional standards as established in the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans" or lose funding to implement any changes in the department's food procurement programs.

The Smith amendment, accepted by voice vote during floor consideration of the DOD spending bill, was strongly supported by the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition (FAWC), a coalition of national agriculture and input organizations which insists any federal action affecting animal agriculture must be science-based while protecting the welfare of producers and their animals.   FAWC's message was simple:  The meatless Monday gambit is a political ploy to erode sales of meat and dairy to institutional buyers, and that for House members, the vote on the Smith amendment meant lawmakers either support farmers and ranchers or they support the animal rights movement.

FAWC members include the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the American Feed Industry Assn. (AFIA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the National Renderers Assn. (NRA), among others. 

Both the Smith and Ernst amendments were aimed at a ploy of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and other animal rights group to try and force institutional meat buyers - school systems, hospitals, universities and others - to cut meat from their food service menus one day a week.  The animal rightists allege the move will improve health and reduce the meat industry's impact on the environment.  Neither allegation can be shown to be true, opponents said.

HSUS Vice President for Farm Animal Protection Paul Shapiro, in response to Ernst's attempt in the Senate, told Politico:  "Really, Sen. Ernst seems more interested in the agribusiness in her state than the fitness of our military.  Everyone knows that eating more plant-based meals is good for public health."  HSUS proudly points to a "meatless Monday" program at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. 

"The push for Meatless Mondays in our military is misguided at best, and goes against dietary guidelines.  Our men and women in uniform should have the option to consume the protein they need, including meat, on a daily basis," Ernst said.

WOTUS Battle Escalates, House Panel Threatens OMB with Contempt; House, Senate Move to Block
The legislative and legal battles to stop EPA's controversial "Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS)" rulemaking were kicked up several notches this week as both the House and Senate appropriations committees added language to spending bills to force the agency to withdraw the rule, while a House committee threatened to censure a White House official over failure to comply with a subpoena for WOTUS documents.

The rule, which seeks to expand EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act (CWA) authority to regulate just about any body of water in the U.S., has been blocked for almost a year by a federal court order as lawsuits filed by nearly 30 states, along with trade associations, companies and individuals, wind their way through the courts.   Federal court action is expected this summer, with most agreeing the case will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The newest shot at the White House comes from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R, UT), chair of the House Oversight Committee, who this week introduced a resolution that would find Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator Howard Shelanski in criminal contempt of Congress for missing deadlines in a July, 2015, committee subpoena for records related to the WOTUS rulemaking and White House/OMB review.  The full House could take up the resolution as early as next week. 

Those fighting against WOTUS in the courts see the House subpoena as yielding much that will strengthen their case in the federal courts given the House committee can make anything provided to it by EPA, public.

For its part, OIRA argues the oversight committee subpoena is "incredibly broad" in its demand for records, which the office is combing through nine years of to meet the subpoena demands, and this week delivered to the committee 13,000 pages of records.  The rest of the records will be delivered to the committee next week, OMB said, arguing it's working "in good faith" to meet the subpoena.  The GOP lawmakers contend, however, that 75% of the 19,000 pages of records sent to the committee so far are duplicates, citing several specific documents that are missing.

Over in the Senate, Sen. John Hoeven (R, ND), a member of the Appropriations Committee, was successful in adding language to the FY2017 Interior/EPA spending bill approved by committee this week preventing EPA from spending any of its FY2017 budget to implement WOTUS.  Democrats, unhappy with the bill overall as it cuts EPA's budget by about $64 million, said the rider means the bill will never see floor action. 

In the House - which has passed a freestanding bill requiring EPA to withdraw the WOTUS rule and start again with greater stakeholder input - language was added to that chamber's version of the FY2017 Interior/EPA bill that mirrors the Hoeven language in the Senate.  House appropriators also added similar WOTUS language to the Army Corps of Engineers FY2017 spending package.  The White House has not yet issued the expected veto threats related to the various spending bills. 
No Senate Deal on GE Food Labeling Yet
A final compromise bill allowing the federal government to preempt state laws requiring the labeling of foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients is still not in hand, and the Vermont labeling law takes effect July 1, leaving just four congressional work days for the Senate to act and the House to concur before the Vermont deadline.

Chief executives of member organizations from the Coalition for Safe & Affordable Food (CSAF) this week demanded the Senate cut a deal by June 17.  Statements from the Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA), the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), and the American Soybean Assn. (ASA) were picked up by both trade and general media reporters.

While agriculture/food industry coalition leaders continue to say Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R, KS) and ranking committee member Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D, MI) are "inches away from a deal" - the lawmakers' respective staffs are known to be working on language - no word on if a final handshake is expected this week.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, remarkably quiet on the negotiations in recent days, said this week both sides need to be flexible to get the deal needed that would mandate disclosure of information to consumers on food ingredients through a program set up by Congress at USDA.  Sen. Chuck Grassley (R, IA), who is not involved in the negotiations, continues to tell reporters "I see it as very difficult to get a compromise."   

The two agriculture panel lawmakers agree the bill will apply only to human foods, and that meat and dairy from animals fed GE feeds should not be covered by the labeling disclosure requirements. Industry wants the meat/dairy exemption expanded to include any food that contains meat, even if the food otherwise contains GE ingredients.  It's not expected that processed-food-with-meat exemption will be part of the final agreement.  Easier to solve will be how much of the ingredient disclosure program will be written by USDA and how much will be proscribed by Congress.

Meanwhile, Roberts continues to work on his Republican colleagues to support whatever deal he and Stabenow can strike.  The ag committee chair needs to get at least 40 GOP senators on board, and Stabenow needs to deliver 20 of her Democrat colleagues to get the 60 votes needed to move any bill to a final Senate vote. 
Energy Bill Held Hostage by Drought Provisions
What was once a highly touted bipartisan congressional effort to pass a comprehensive energy bill is now looking at a rock reconciliation with the Senate version of the bill over language in the House bill dealing with California and western states drought issues.  The divide over drought relief is enough to kill off this year's effort to pass an energy bill, say environmental groups.

Rep. David Valdao (R, CA) sponsored the provisions which relax endangered species protections so that more water can be moved into California's Central Valley.  House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop (R, UT) says any final energy bill "will have some elements of that...we're going to push for that" as one of the 24 House GOP conferees on the bill final energy package.  Bishop, for himself, also has problems with a Senate provision reauthorizing permanently the Land & Water Conservation Fund, the entity which pays in part for federal, state and local purchases of land and water resources.

The Valdao language, however, will be the most troublesome given Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, CA) opposes his approach to their state's receipt of federal drought relief, and President Obama has threatened to veto any energy package carrying the Valdao language.  His language would allow state and federal officials to allow more water to be pumped for farms, disregarding federal endangered species protections for the Delta smelt and salmonids that limit the amount of water that can be stored by farms.

The House version of the FY2017 Interior/EPA spending bill also includes some of Valdao's proposals, and that, too, has drawn a veto threat from the White House because it would erode efforts to "restore and maintain fish populations" in California.

At this point, it's not clear whether congressional leaders will even schedule a conference committee as the Senate has not agreed formally to proceed to conference.  
House Subcommittee to Hold RFS Overview Hearing Next Week
The subcommittee on energy and power of the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing the morning of Wednesday, June 22, to review the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and relevant "implementation issues." 

"For the sake of consumers, corn and soybean growers, ethanol and biodiesel producers, refiners and gas station owners and equipment makers, we must ensure that the (RFS) program strikes the right balance," said subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (R, KY).   In his subcommittee's announcement, Whitfield said that after 2022 - when the RFS legislative authority overEPA expires - the agency has "wide discretion to set the RFS targets, raising concerns about the long-term direction of the program."

According to the committee announcement, "The subcommittee will examine the RFS program and receive an update on the status and implementation of the program.  The RFS specifies increasing amounts of renewable fuels to be added to the nation's gasoline and diesel fuel each year through 2022, but it provides EPA with some authority to lower the annual volumes if circumstances warrant."

The subcommittee, referring to the waiver authority used by the agency when setting RFS levels last year, said, EPA set 2016 levels in order to "minimize blendwall-related issues, but 2017 targets go beyond the blendwall."  The so-called "blendwall" refers to the mandated amount of biofuel to be blended with fuel that might force a fuel maker to exceed the 10% mandated maximum blend level. 
USDA Lowers Stocks for Corn, Beans; Wheat Way Up
While stocks for old and new crop corn and soybeans as predicted by USDA in its June Supply & Demand Report, appear to be tightening, wheat stocks continue a steady upward climb. 

New crop ending stocks of corn are predicted to hit just over 2 billion bushels, a bit less than forecast a month ago and trade expectation.  USDA expects corn exports to increase by about 50 million bushels, but stronger than expected export demand on Brazilian weather problems hiked carryover corn export demand as well. 

Wheat stocks will likely hit 1.05 billion bushels, a 29-year high.  Adding to this figure will be expected strong production based on favorable weather, even with a reduction in acreage, the department said.

Soybean supplies are seen hitting about 260 million bushels, with carryover supplies reaching 370 million.  Soybean demand remains strong given ongoing Latin American weather challenges.
Upcoming Events
October 26, 2016:
CGFA and NGFA Joint Grain Safety Seminar
DoubleTree, Fresno, CA

January 11-12, 2017  

Grain & Feed Industry Conference  

Embassy Suites, Monterey Bay, CA

April 26-29, 2017    

CGFA Annual Convention

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino

May 10 - 11, 2017
California Animal Nutrition Conference (CANC)

Location TBD

California Grain & Feed Association | 1521 I Street | Sacramento | CA | 95814