October 31, 2019
Farm Workforce Modernization Act Introduced in House with Bipartisan Support
In the latest attempt to address the nation’s ag labor issues, bipartisan House members on Oct. 30 introduced the Farm Workforce Modernization Act ( H.R. 4916 ). California Congressional Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Santa Clarita), Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) and Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) were among the lawmakers who introduced the bill, with support from 24 Democrats and 20 Republicans. According to press releases, the act was negotiated over several months with input from ag and labor groups. It makes reforms to the H-2A program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s ag sector.

Statement from CAWG President John Aguirre: CAWG applauds the bipartisan efforts of members of Congress to address the chronic labor shortages affecting agriculture. However, the bill proposes to fundamentally reshape the ag employer-worker relationship, with profound consequences for the future. So, at this time, the association remains neutral until we can better understand its consequences for California winegrape growers.

**Final Week to RSVP for These Events**

Celebrate the Leadership of Outgoing CAWG Chair, Directors
We are looking forward to our fun celebration to recognize outgoing CAWG chair Bill Berryhill and outgoing CAWG directors for their leadership and years of service. We hope you can make it!

WHEN: Nov. 7 / reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Doubletree by Hilton, Modesto
Casino Night to Support CAWG PAC
CAWG PAC along with our event hosts and sponsors – invite you to join us for our final event of the year! The evening will include casino games, food and wine…plus a recap on our recent legislative efforts and what's to come in the 2020 election. Don't miss this great event!

WHEN: Nov. 6 / 6 p.m.
WHERE: Galletto Ristorante, Modesto
Government Relations Report
The law  requires that if the workplace  air quality index  (AQI) from wildfire smoke is over 150 but less than 501, outdoor workers must be provided with N-95 masks for voluntary use. CAWG’s  website  provides detailed information on this law, a link to a webinar and a link to the regulation itself. 
Given the current wildfire situation, some growers are frequently checking AirNow online for local AQI info – only to find that there may be no AQI data available. This is because at various times in the last week and in various parts of the state, there has been no AQI data available due to power outages and evacuations. Sadly, this is expected to continue.
In the absence of AQI data, there is confusion as to what the law requires. Essentially, the question is: If there is no AQI information available, what are growers required to do? 
Faced with this problem, if an employer reasonably anticipates that employees may be exposed to wildfire smoke and there is smoke in the air at the workplace, it is probably best to assume (out of an abundance of caution) that the AQI is indeed over 150 and less than 501. 
In such circumstances, growers may want to provide the N-95 masks as discussed in CAWG’s webinar . However, if there is concern that the air quality may be above the HAZARDOUS range (over 500), the N-95 mask for voluntary use may not be enough. For any grower faced with this situation, or any wildfire smoke situation, please talk with your HR professional or legal counsel for advice specific to your employees. 

Typically, when a lawmaker steps down, a special election is held to fill the vacancy. Additional vacancies are often subsequently created as a result.
For example, when then-Sen. Ted Gaines was sworn in as a member of the California State Board of Equalization in January, he had to resign from the California Senate. Then-Assemblymember Brian Dahle was elected in a special election to replace Gaines. The special election to fill Dahle’s vacant Assembly seat is on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
This week there are two new resignations causing special elections in the near future.
When Rep. Katie Hill (D-Los Angeles County) recently announced her decision to resign (effective Nov. 1), several people signaled their intent to replace her, including former California Congressional Rep. Steve Knight and Trump 2016 campaign advisor George Papadopoulos (both Republican), and Assemblymember Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita). 
State Sen. Jeff Stone (R-La Quinta) has also announced his resignation effective Nov. 1. Stone accepted an appointment in the Trump administration as the U.S. Department of Labor’s western regional director. This will cause a special election to fill the vacant Senate seat. Assemblymember Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) is rumored to be running. 
If Smith and Melendez win, this could create new vacancies in the Assembly that would need to be filled through additional special elections.
Stay tuned as the special election dominoes keep on falling. 

- Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / 916-379-8995
EPA Proposes Application Exclusion Zone Changes, Seeks Comments
The U.S. EPA on Oct. 24 released proposed updates to its application exclusion zone (AEZ) requirements. The agency stated that the changes would reduce regulatory burdens for farmers and improve enforceability for state regulators, while maintaining public health protections for farmworkers and others. The proposal has received support from USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), American Farm Bureau Federation and other ag groups, but critics argue that the changes will weaken farmworker protections. The proposed rule is scheduled to published in the Federal Register on Nov. 1 and EPA will seek comments for 90 days.

EPA is proposing to:
  • Modify the AEZ so it is applicable and enforceable only on a farm owner’s property.
  • Exempt immediate family of farm owners from all aspects of the AEZ requirement (they decide whether to stay inside or leave during pesticide applications).
  • Add clarifying language that pesticide applications that are suspended due to individuals entering an AEZ may be resumed after those individuals have left the AEZ.
  • Simplify the criteria for deciding whether pesticide applications are subject to the 25- or 100-foot AEZ.
USMCA Update
In a press conference today ( video / scroll to the 9:10 mark ), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi answered a question about how the impeachment process will affect the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. She said, “They have nothing to do with each other…it has nothing to do with the timing on impeachment.” Meanwhile, #USMCA and #USMCANow are trending on Twitter with legislators and other supporters. Congress has less than two dozen legislative days remaining to vote on USMCA.
State Board of Food and Agriculture Meets Nov. 5
Representatives from CAWG and the California Farm Bureau Federation will brief the board on the pending Outdoor Agricultural Operations During Hours of Darkness regulation and how it could end night ag work in California. Other speakers include Daniel Sumner of the UC Agricultural Issues Center (topic: California ag update) and Rupal Patel of California Harvesters (topic: ag workforce).

WHEN: Nov. 5 / 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: CDFA, 1220 N Street (main auditorium)

Select Committees on Wine Joint Hearing
Due to the Northern California wine country wildfires, the Senate Select Committee on California's Wine Industry and the Assembly Select Committee on Wine postponed its joint hearing in Lodi that was scheduled for today. We will let you know when it is rescheduled.

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CAWG Board Election
Thank you to all of the candidates (listed below) and to everyone who voted. Results will be announced soon!

CAWG District 1 – Three vacancies. Nominees:
  • John Balletto, Balletto Vineyards, Santa Rosa (seeking re-election for a second term).
  • David Beckstoffer, Beckstoffer Vineyards, Napa (seeking election for a first term).
  • Chris Lynch, Walsh Vineyard Management, Napa (seeking election for a first term).

CAWG District 3 – One vacancy. Nominees:
  • Ron Lanza, Wooden Valley Winery & Vineyards, Suisun (seeking election for a first term).
  • Michael Manna, Manna Ranch, Inc., Acampo (seeking election for a first term).

CAWG District 4 – One vacancy. Nominee:
  • Joel Maring, J. Maring Farms, Patterson (seeking re-election for a second term).

CAWG District 5 – One vacancy. Nominee:
  • Jeff Bitter, Madera (seeking re-election for a second term).

Webinar: Workers' Comp Claims and Management
This webinar will give employers insight into the myriad responsibilities surrounding workers’ comp claims and review some of the best practices that can help employers navigate the process efficiently and effectively. Participants will learn how to return employees to work, when and how to follow up with a claim, and how the claims adjuster can help you through this process.

HOSTS: Pan American (CAWG preferred partner) and Sacramento Employer Advisory Council. 

WHEN: Nov. 14 / 12 to 1 p.m.

Santa Cruz County: Numbers Down
The total value of winegrapes in 2018 was $4.2 million, down from $4.8 million in 2017. Production stats: 630 acres (638 in 2017); 2.27 tons per acre (2.35 in 2017); 1,432 tons (1,500 in 2017) and $2,930 per ton ($3,226 in 2017).

Information from Sonoma County Winegrowers and Allied Grape Growers.
AgNet West, Oct. 30

Press release, Oct. 30

San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 29

CDFA, Oct. 28

For many California farmers, it means potentially losing everything. Op-ed by Carine Hines, co-owner of Sun Tracker Farm in Guinda (Capay Valley).
New York Times, Oct. 24

As wildfires of this strength and intensity grow more frequent, so do concerns for field workers, who can face conditions that jeopardize their health, wages and housing.
California Healthline, Oct. 24
Temperature, humidity, solar radiation and other factors combine to create ‘high-pressure’ vintages.
Good Fruit Grower, Oct. 31
A proposed reservoir – the Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir project – promises reliable water deliveries for farms in western Stanislaus County and nearby counties.
Modesto Bee, Oct. 28

Registration and Housing
CAWG members receive up to a $200 discount (per employee) on their Unified registration. Call the CAWG office at 916-379-8995 if you need your discount code.

Sponsorship and Ad Opportunities

Promoting your brand at the 2020 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium is an opportunity you can’t miss!
>CUSTOMIZED PROMOTION? Contact  Jenny Devine

Preparing the Vineyard for Winter (Webinar)
Nov. 4 / 2 - 3:30 p.m.

Tree & Vine Expo - Turlock  
Nov. 12 / 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Sonoma Grape Expo - Cloverdale
Nov. 15 / 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Grape, Nut & Tree Fruit Expo - Fresno
Nov. 19 / 7 a.m. - 2 p.m.

November 6
CAWG PAC event / Casino Night at Galletto Ristorante , Modesto

November 7

November 7