March 18, 2021
Requiring Employees to be Vaccinated
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) recently updated its COVID-19 related FAQs. The FAQs address whether an employer can: ask about symptoms, take employees’ temperatures, require the use of personal protective equipment, and require employees to be vaccinated. The short answer is yes, so long as the employer strictly adheres to the requirements of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). 
The following FEHA requirements apply to any employer who requires employees to be vaccinated: 
  • Mandatory vaccination policies and practices must not discriminate against or harass employees based on a protected characteristic. 
  • Employers must reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities.  
  • Employers must reasonably accommodate employees with sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices
  • Employers must not retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity
  • If an employee resists mandatory vaccination absent a disability or sincerely-held religious belief or practice, no reasonable accommodation is necessary
  • The type of medical information that can be elicited from employees will depend on whether the employer is administering the mandatory vaccination program
  • Employers may require “proof” of vaccination if a third party is administering the mandatory vaccination program
The legal landscape on this issue continues to evolve. Please contact your human resources professional or legal counsel about the laws relative to COVID-19 and vaccines that may apply to your workplace.   

Michael Miiller / / (916) 204-0485
Retroactive COVID-19 Paid Leave
The California Senate today approved and sent SB 95 (Skinner, D-Alameda) to Gov. Newsom, who is expected to sign the bill into law. The legislation would require two weeks of paid leave for COVID employees in places of employment with more than 25 employees. SB 95 is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021 and provides that any eligible employee requesting payment of back wages for COVID leave must be paid immediately upon request. 
Many employers may have provided paid leave already under requirements of Cal/OSHA’s emergency temporary standards, local ordinances, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or other paid leave program. However, those payments – from Jan. 1, 2021 through present – may fall short of the generous requirements  dictated by SB 95.
Consequently, employers may want to review the length of time of those leaves and the amount paid and then compare that leave to the leave required under SB 95. Please check with your human resources professional or legal counsel for specific information about how SB 95 may apply to your business, as it is likely to be signed into law this week. 

Michael Miiller / / (916) 204-0485
COVID-19 Resources and Articles

Widespread/purple = 11 (March 9 = 34)
Substantial/red = 42 (March 9 = 20)
Moderate/orange = 4 (March 9 = 3)
Minimal/yellow = 1 (March 9 = 1)

Click here to check vaccine eligibility, sign up for eligibility notifications, schedule vaccine appointments or get notified when appointments are available in your area.



Ag Alert, March 17
SBA, March 16

How a Lodi winery survived the past year and plans to keep some of the modifications it's made, even though restrictions are easing.
KCRA, March 12
With over 30 harvests, the G3 Ag Team has deep experience in winegrape hauling. Our operational expertise and agile planning combine to provide responsive service for wineries and grape growers large and small. Click on image or here to view video.
Government Relations Report
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is the lead state agency for the assessment of potential health risks posed by environmental hazards. OEHHA implements the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65. In short: OEHHA makes sure that a Prop 65 warning label is displayed on virtually everything from oak furniture to packaging of many consumer products. 
OEHHA may soon be taking a more active role in regulating the use of pest management tools. OEHHA recently announced it granted the petition from Californians for Pesticide Reform relative to the use of 1,3-Dichloropropene (1,3-D), a preplant fumigant and nematicide. Consequently, OEHHA will propose a regulation to establish a no significant risk level for 1,3-D under Prop 65. 
The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) registers pesticides and prescribes the parameters by which those products can be used safely. OEHHA’s approach doesn’t consider mitigation and safety measures. Instead, OEHHA focuses primarily at potential toxicity.   

CAWG and other ag organizations will continue educating policymakers on how pest management tools are used responsibly, safely and in accordance with DPR standards, which are arguably the strictest in the world. Written submissions of 1,3-D scientific information must be received by OEHHA by April 27. 

Michael Miiller / / (916) 204-0485
Providing the very best California crop insurance services.

House to Vote on Farm Workforce Modernization Act
The House of Representative is expected to vote this week on the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603), a bill introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) to reform the H-2A guestworker program. Co-sponsors include California Democrat Reps. Jim Costa, Jimmy Panetta, Salud Carbajal and Josh Harder, plus California Republican Reps. Doug LaMalfa and David Valadao.
Many ag organizations have voiced support for this bill. While CAWG favors passage of the bill, the association is concerned about a provision that would require ag employers who use the H-2A guestworker program to provide housing to domestic workers. Under the bill, most ag employers will eventually need to participate in the H-2A program to obtain needed workers. Under the bill, current immigrant farmworkers without proper documentation would qualify for adjustment to legal status. Once they have adjusted into legal status, these workers would be deemed “domestic workers,” and H-2A employers would be obligated to provide them with free housing, when those workers apply to work the same jobs as held by H-2A employees. CAWG believes domestic workers should not qualify for free housing and seeks to remedy this problem when the Senate considers the bill.

Ag Industry Wants Continued Investment in Ag Export Programs

Winegrape Growers of America, WineAmerica and Wine Institute are part of a coalition asking federal lawmakers to support the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program. More than 100 ag groups and businesses signed on to a letter to House ag subcommittee leaders earlier this month. “MAP/FMD funding is critical to help U.S. farmers, ranchers and food exporters keep pace and to help us make up for lost time after two and half years of trade conflict and retaliatory tariffs,” the letter stated.

Federal Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Protect Private Water Rights

To prevent “water grabs by the federal government” that have threatened the livelihoods of farmers and other water users that rely on private water rights, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) on March 9 introduced the Western Water Security Act (H.R. 1679). The legislation would protect private property rights, uphold state water law and prohibit federal takings. California Republicans Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) are cosponsors.

Update on Biden Nominees

The U.S. Senate this week voted to confirm the following nominees:
  • Katherine Tai as the top U.S. trade envoy by a vote of 98-0. Tai is the first Asian American to lead the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
  • Xavier Becerra as health secretary by a party-line vote of 50-49. Former California Attorney General Becerra is the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Debra Anne Haaland as interior secretary by a vote of 51-40. Haaland is the first Native American Cabinet secretary.
New Grape Varieties Approved for Wine
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has administratively approved the use of two new grape variety names: pecorino and verdiccio. Wine bottlers can use these names, as well as other names granted  administrative approval, to label American wines pending TTB’s next rulemaking. Click here to see the complete list of grape variety names approved for use in designating American wines.
USDA Seeks Comments on Climate-Smart Ag
USDA is requesting stakeholder input on a climate-smart ag and forestry strategy, as directed by President Biden’s Jan. 27 executive order on tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad. Respondents can answer numerous questions categorized by climate-smart agriculture and forestry; biofuels, wood and other bioproducts, and renewable energy; catastrophic wildfires; and environmental justice and disadvantaged communities. Comments are due April 29.

Learning from the State's Last Drought
The California Natural Resources Agency recently published a 74-page report of major state actions taken during the 2012-16 drought. The report to the California Legislature describes challenges, successes and areas for improvement in the management of drinking water; water rights, supply, quality and conservation; agriculture; fish and wildlife; fire protection; and emergency human assistance. It highlights key lessons learned that can inform future efforts.
Comments Sought for CA Groundwater Draft Report
The California Department of Water Resources is encouraging stakeholders to provide input on its draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020, released on March 11. The report provides a comprehensive look at statewide groundwater activities, compiling technical information and data from 2003-2020. Comments will be accepted until April 26 and a final version is scheduled for release in summer 2021.
>WEBINAR: OVERVIEW OF REPORT (March 30 / 12-1:30 p.m. / reservations required)

Participate in 2021 Advocacy Day!
Join CAWG members and staff for 2021 Advocacy Day on April 21 (9-11:30 a.m.).
CAWG’s state advocacy team – led by Tom Slater, CAWG Government Relations Committee chair; Michael Miiller, CAWG director of government relations; and Jackson Gualco, The Gualco Group – is planning an exciting and informative morning with key legislators and top regulatory officials.
You will hear about priority bills and issues facing the wine industry and find out how you can take action by engaging on issues. Complimentary registration for all CAWG members! Please consider sponsoring this important event.

March issue
March issue
March issue

As the Efficient Vineyard Project comes to a close, Cornell offers free platform to help growers get started with spatial data.
Good Fruit Grower, March 18

Western Farm Press, March 18
Tehachapi News, March 13

Interview with Fresno State’s Luca Brillante.
CAAgNet, American Vineyard Magazine, March 11
Written by experts from the Public Policy Institute of California.
CalMatters, March 5


21 / CAWG Advocacy Day - virtual

22 / CAWG PAC Wine Tasting Event - virtual