Today USDA and the Obama Administration defied logic by announcing the issuance of a proposed rule allowing lemons from Argentina into the United States. This followed on the heels of proposed rules allowing Chilean lemons into the country under less stringent protocols to avoid invasive pest and diseases. The Chilean rule followed a proposal to allow Australian oranges into the United States from a heretofore designated pest infested area.
The Argentine proposal defies logic by relying upon a pest and disease trip almost eight years ago, therefore lacking any knowledge of present day pest and disease reality. The proposal lacks logic because it came after a whirlwind trip by our President who wants to reward the Argentine government for doing nothing, other than getting elected.
It defies logic because the previous Administration in Argentina had denied and cancelled access for many agricultural products and now this Administration rewards that bad behavior without generating any support for domestic agriculture. It defies logic because in 2014 the Argentines exported almost $400m in agricultural products to the United States, whereas we exported a paltry $5m of comparable product to Argentina.
Today while the U.S. industry is fighting to stay vibrant against the ravages of an incurable disease, Huanglongbing, the Obama Administration wishes to bring more fruit from pest infested and diseased areas. What kind of logic is that?
Today the California citrus industry, the nation's supplier of fresh citrus, has spent over $100m defending itself from Huanglongbing and this Administration seeks to undercut that effort with less expensive product from pest infested and diseased areas.
The California citrus industry is an industry dominated by the family farmer. The Argentine industry is dominated by a handful of producers that are truly supported by their government. It's too bad the Obama Administration and USDA acquiesced to a request without a logical foundation. We have no choice but to fight for our survival.
Imported disease has ravaged the Florida industry. Government proposals could lead to the demise of California's iconic citrus industry. The proposal will be released on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.
Nominations for Kiwifruit Administrative Committee
Nominations Sought for California Kiwifruit Administrative Committee
April 4, 2016
The California Kiwifruit Administrative Committee will conduct its annual election of kiwifruit growers to serve as members and alternates for a two-year term from August 1, 2016 to July 31, 2018. Nominations are being sought from the three districts in California, encompassing all of the production areas.
Nomination forms will be mailed to growers in each district on April 5th and should be returned to the Kiwifruit Administrative Committee postmarked no later than April 20, 2016. Eligible candidates include kiwifruit growers who produce kiwifruit for the fresh market, and employees of growers. Ballots will be mailed to all growers in early May.
The Kiwifruit Administrative Committee is the official body that administers the federal marketing order for kiwifruit. The Kiwifruit Administrative Committee has made a commitment to enhance the diversity of the organization and is working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to encourage eligible women, minorities, people with disabilities, organic or non-conventional producers, small businesses, and individuals who have never served on the Committee to serve as committee members or alternates. All eligible candidates are encouraged to participate in the nomination process.
If you have any questions please call the Kiwifruit Administrative Committee office at (916) 441-0678. Nomination forms are available at the office at 1521 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New California Agricultural Labor Association Formed
CCM Forms New Association to provide Guidance for Citrus Industry Employers on Labor Laws and Regulations
Visalia, March 4, 2016- California Citrus Mutual announced Thursday at the 2016 Citrus Showcase the formation of a new association, the California Agricultural Labor Association (CALA).
The announcement was made during a workshop at the Showcase about two major developments in labor compensation laws for employees paid a piece rate. Going forward, CALA will provide guidance to employers and farm labor contractors in the citrus industry for complying with all labor laws and compensation regulations.
"Piece-rate compensation and joint liability are only two labor obstacles that the agricultural industry is struggling to understand and implement," says CCM President Joel Nelsen.
"Regulatory compliance is constantly evolving and the challenge of maintaining compliance with both state and federal regulations is difficult and taxing. To meet this challenge, the citrus industry formed CALA, which will serve farm labor contractors, growers, and packinghouses alike."
CALA Vice President Vicky Lomeli states, "When it comes to regulatory compliance, it is imperative that all parties involved in contract employment comply with the laws and regulations in the same manner."
CALA was created to inform, educate and assist farm labor contractors and agricultural employers by providing training, informational resources, and assistance with record keeping and reporting requirements to assure all are fully complying correctly and in a uniform manner.
Over the next several months CALA will be busy enrolling members and hiring an Executive Officer to put together staffing and programming, with a goal to be fully operational by fall 2016.
CCM Responds to Introduction of Feinstein Water Bill
CCM Responds to Introduction of Feinstein Water Bill
February 10, 2016-Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a revised drought relief bill that puts California one step closer to comprehensive water policy reform, according to California Citrus Mutual (CCM) President Joel Nelsen.
"The introduction today of the California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act by Senator Dianne Feinstein identifies several paths by which California can improve its water infrastructure and create a more reliable water system for all water users," says Nelsen. "Everybody wants something. Most want to help people and the environment as well as sustain the production of food and fiber. But, the stakeholders who are singularly focused have been an impediment to improving California's water crisis."
The bill contains language to create short-term solutions for existing problems and focuses on the vibrant future for California's water policy.
Over two years ago CCM made water a priority following a historical zero surface water allocation for Central Valley Water Project water users, namely growers in the Friant service area. Challenges also persist in Southern California which requires attention at the federal level. "CCM was closely involved with the State Water Bond negotiations and advocated for stronger language and dollars to assist citrus growers in Southern California and Monterey County, for example," continues Nelsen. "It was a natural next step that we seek federal movement toward a balanced water policy."
"Does this bill give us everything we want? Not by a long shot. However, it is a very necessary and positive step toward a policy that both protects the integrity of the Endangered Species Act biological opinions and clarifies where flexibility could exist in the storage and movement of water," says Nelsen.
Nelsen and CCM Board Chairman Kevin Severns are currently in Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of California's $3 billion citrus industry that Congress act now to address California's water crisis.
"A silent disaster is taking place," says Chairman Kevin Severns. "It's clear Senator Feinstein is willing to work with the House to negotiate a water bill that benefits all California water users."
Nelsen and Severns met with Senator Feinstein today along with executives from Wonderful Citrus and Sunkist to discuss the bill. "It is promising, and Senator Feinstein has every interest in getting something done for California water security once and for all," says Nelsen.
CCM in conjunction with other like-minded entities will now work to help move this package through the Senate, hopefully as part of a Western Water Bill, and then seek House supporters. "More good ideas could materialize and we're willing to listen to the Senator, but those that seek to impede achievement under the guise of 'helping' must be held accountable for placing California's future in jeopardy," concludes Nelsen.
California Citrus Mutual is a non-profit trade association of citrus growers, with approximately 2,200 members representing 70% California's 362,000-acre, $3 billion citrus industry. The mission of California Citrus Mutual is to inform, educate, and advocate on behalf of citrus growers. The Exeter, California-based organization was founded in 1977.
ACP Quarantine Expands to Oakdale Area
ACP Quarantine Expands to Oakdale Area
January 28, 2016 – A new portion of Stanislaus County has been placed under quarantine for the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) following the detection of one ACP within the City of Oakdale. The quarantine zone measures 133 square miles, bordered on the north by E Sonora Road; on the south by Milnes Road; on the west by Stanislaus County Boundary; and on the east by Oakdale Irrigation District South Main Canal. Maps for the new quarantine area in Oakdale and the existing quarantine area in Turlock in are available online at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp-maps. Please check this link for future quarantine expansions in this county, should they occur. Quarantines in new counties will be announced separately.
The quarantine prohibits the movement of citrus and curry leaf tree nursery stock, including all plant parts except fruit, out of the quarantine area and requires that all citrus fruit be cleaned of leaves and stems prior to moving out of the quarantine area. An exception may be made for nursery stock and budwood grown in USDA-approved structures which are designed to keep ACP and other insects out. Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked not to transport or send citrus fruit or leaves, potted citrus trees, or curry leaves from the quarantine area.
ACP county-wide quarantines are now in place in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura Counties, with portions of Alameda, Fresno, Kern, Madera, Merced, San Benito, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus counties also under quarantine.
The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species, such as curry leaf trees, are susceptible hosts for both the insect and disease. There is no cure for HLB and once a tree becomes infected, the diseased tree will decline in health and produce bitter, misshaped fruit until it dies. In California, HLB has only been detected in 2012 and 2015 on residential properties in Los Angeles County. This plant disease does not affect human health.
Residents in the area who think they may have seen ACP or symptoms of HLB on their trees are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899 or your local agricultural commissioner’s office (Stanislaus County (209) 525-4730). For more information on the ACP and HLB, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp.