Thursday, June 23, 2016

Group calls on Congress, president to reform immigration

From Western Growers:
Statement by Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif in response to the Supreme Court ruling on the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs:

“We believe our nation’s immigration policies should be determined by the legislative branch of our federal government. We also recognize that Congress has abdicated its duty to reform our broken immigration system, which is why we understand the motivation of the Obama Administration. However, neither DAPA, DACA, nor any other Executive Order will adequately address the long-term immigration challenges facing our country.

In light of this ruling, we urge the Administration and all members of Congress to reflect on their responsibilities to the American public and renew the immigration reform debate in earnest. Congress should bring forth a comprehensive immigration reform plan that considers agriculture’s unique needs. Any reform measure should include provisions granting legal status to existing farmworkers and one that creates a new, more workable and market-oriented visa program to ensure a future flow of labor."

LaMalfa applauds Supreme Court's immigration ruling

From the north state's Rep. Doug LaMalfa:
Rep. LaMalfa (R-CA) released the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Texas, which upheld a Texas federal district court’s decision barring the President from using executive action to implement the Deferred Action for Parent of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.

“Today, we saw our rule of law upheld at the highest level. The Supreme Court’s one-sentence opinion, handed down earlier this morning, rightfully blocks the President’s unilateral immigration action, which would have given de facto amnesty to almost 5 million people who are present in our nation illegally. The Constitution makes it clear – Congress writes the law, and the President has a duty to carry those out. This ruling today exemplified once again the importance of having separation of powers and checks and balances within our political system.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Federal court strikes down BLM rule

Issued last night by the Congressional Western Caucus:
Today in Wyoming, US District Court Judge John Skavdahl struck down the Bureau of Land Management’s final rule on hydraulic fracturing. Judge Skavdahl agreed with western states, tribes, and industry that the BLM lacked the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Cynthia Lummis (WY-At large) issued the following statement in response:

“Today is a victory not only for state management and responsible stewardship of our natural resources, but also for states’ rights,” said Chairman Lummis. “This rule undermined the careful and efficient regulation of fracturing that states have put in place, like the rules written by Wyoming. I am glad to see Judge Skavdahl rule in favor of the State of Wyoming and others and will continue my own work to rein in overreaching federal agencies.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Western Growers dismayed by court's compost ruling

A farm group is dismayed that a federal court ruled that it's no longer necessarily OK to use composted municipal green waste on organic farms in California. From Western Growers:
Western Growers is disappointed with yesterday’s federal court decision that struck down a five-year-old federal Guidance document allowing the use of composted municipal green waste on organic farms in California. Monday’s court decision in Center for Environmental Health v. Vilsack vacated the National Organic Program’s (NOP) Guidance 5016: The Allowance of Green Waste in Organic Production Systems.

The Guidance already prohibited use of compost that was shown to contaminate soil, crops or water, but plaintiffs argued that this was not strict enough under the pre-2011 organic rules. While the court stopped short of agreeing with plaintiffs, the court found that USDA did not gather sufficient comment on the 2011 legal guidance and ordered them back to the drawing board. USDA now has 60 days to issue new Guidance and get comment before the August 22 deadline.

Western Growers provided input to the court as an amicus to show that the sudden withdrawal of the Guidance would harm organic agriculture, composting operations and consumers in California.

“We asked the court to simply allow USDA to fix any procedural problem to the Guidance without doing away with these important rules that codify well-established organic practices,” said Western Growers Vice President of Federal Government Affairs, Dennis Nuxoll. “Now, starting in August, California organic farmers – who have followed USDA’s lead in good faith – won’t know the rules of the road,’ Nuxoll continued.

Western Grower is concerned that certified organic farmers will no longer enjoy the protections of NOP Guidance 5016 if their organic compost contains incidental residues of prohibited substances that they did not cause and be opened up to potential lawsuits. Furthermore, we recognize that no analytical testing currently exists to confirm the absence of all disallowed chemical substances, and the cost of trying to conduct such testing would be prohibitive and could render organic production economically unfeasible.

We believe the organic industry will be harmed by this type of legal and economic uncertainty and will explore all available remedies to insulate organic farmers from this short-sighted and potentially market-devastating ruling.
The Capital Press is following up on this ruling and will have a story up on our website soon.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Assemblywoman refuses to take no for an answer

Remember the ag overtime bill that supposedly died in the Assembly for lack of support? Well' it's back.

From the California Cattlemen's Association's latest legislative bulletin:
Earlier this week, the author of the ag overtime bill, defeated just a few weeks ago, has amended a bill in the Senate to bring the ag overtime issue back this legislative session. AB 2757, authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), was defeated with a vote of 38-34 earlier in the month after not securing the necessary 41 votes to pass the Assembly. Assemblymember Gonzalez gut-and-amended AB 1066, currently located in the Senate Education Committee, with the same provisions contained in AB 2757. Although Assemblymember Gonzalez bypassed the recent house of origin deadline that helped secure the defeat of AB 2757, AB 1066 will still need to come back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote. This vote will require 41 members to approve the amendments taken in the Senate and sets up another contentious debate on the Assembly floor later this year.

Although CCA expected the author to attempt something again on this issue, it is surprising that Assemblymember Gonzalez is taking the bill up again so soon. The bill is expected to likely pass the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee prior to the Summer Recess, however floor action taken by both the Senate and Assembly probably won't happen until the end of this legislative session. Both houses will conclude their business upon the adjournment of session on Aug. 31.

A large coalition of agricultural and businesses groups, including CCA, are preparing a strategy to continue to maintain a strong opposition to the bill. It is anticipated to be a very close fight.
Apparently Gonzalez took a bill that previously dealt with compensation for teachers -- a totally unrelated subject -- and replaced it with her ag overtime proposal. I am following up. Check back at for the story.