July 18, 2019
DOL Proposes to Streamline and Simplify H-2A Process; Seeks Comments
The U.S. Department of Labor is  soliciting public comment on proposed changes to improve the H-2A temporary agricultural labor certification program. These proposed changes would “modernize the H-2A regulations in a way that is responsive to stakeholder concerns and enhances employer access to a legal source of agricultural labor, while maintaining the program's protections for the U.S. workforce and enhancing enforcement against fraud and abuse.” The 60-day public comment period began on July 15, and CAWG is preparing comments. Growers are encouraged to review the proposed changes and submit comments as well.

US Senators Push for USMCA Ratification
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Ag Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Rural Development, on July 16 joined fellow lawmakers on the Senate floor to stress the importance of passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). “It is critical that we get the USMCA across the finish line,” Ernst said during her  five-minute speech . Among the other senators who spoke were  Cory Gardner (R-Colo.),  Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and  Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Farmers for Free Trade has coordinated a mass farmer/rancher sign-on letter that will go to Congress. Click  here if you want to add your name to the letter, which has nearly 1,000 signatures as of July 18. 
Government Relations Report
As things heat up heading into the California presidential primary election in only eight months, down-ticket races are starting to come into focus. Two races getting a lot of recent attention are adjacent Congressional districts that run from Delhi to Bakersfield.
Former Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) has  filed a statement of candidacy  for his former seat in Congress. Valadao lost to Fresno Democrat TJ Cox by 862 votes in 2018. Valadao has not formally announced his candidacy and said, “We’re not making any announcements yet. We’re looking at it but we’re not ready. We have been making calls, talking to people.”
The National Republican Campaign Committee recently released polling from late June showing Cox trailing a “potential Republican challenger” by 16 points.
For the past 14 years, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) has managed to hold off Republican challengers. But in 2020 he’s also going to face a Democrat.  Trying to move this Congressional seat to the left , Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria, the daughter of farmworkers, announced she will run against Costa next year.
Costa has been a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats who mostly represent conservative-leaning districts. In a district that has been voting Democrat, Costa will be relying on moderates in both parties to win re-election.

CAWG associate member Fisher Phillips recently posted a legal alert –  Employers May Catch Temporary Break On Impending California Privacy Law .
Thanks to recent negotiations, it appears that California employers may get a temporary reprieve on some of the more sweeping data privacy requirements that were set to take effect in just a few months. However, the  pending legislation  that would provide the delay would not exempt employers from significant disclosure requirements that also comprise the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – meaning you should still be in the process of preparing for the new law at your workplace.
The good news is that employers appear to have a one-year reprieve before the floodgates are opened for pre-litigation discovery and fishing expeditions by plaintiffs’ attorneys. The bad news is that this issue is far from over, as 2021 is only a year and a half away, and there is no guarantee that the California Legislature will reach a more permanent fix.
Regardless, you should immediately work on preparing the required disclosure to employees and job applicants to implement it no later than Jan. 1, 2020. This disclosure can be made to employees as a group in the employee handbook or through a memo to all employees. 
The  Fisher Phillips legal alert  provides valuable information. Employers may also wish to consult HR professionals and an attorney.

-Michael Miiller / michael@cawg.org / 916-379-8995
Video: CAWG Leader of the Year Tribute
For those who were unable to attend the CAWG Summer Conference, please watch this nine-minute video of John Duarte presenting the Leader of the Year Award to Brad Goehring. Thank you to California AgNet for producing the video.

Video: Interview with Michael Miiller on CA Pesticide Regulations
Matthew Malcolm of California AgNet recently interviewed CAWG Director of Government Relations Michael Miiller about the fate of certain crop protection products and the state’s pesticide regulatory system.

TODAY: Senate Ag Committee Hearing on Ag Research, Farm Bill
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing titled “Agricultural Research and 2018 Farm Bill Implementation.” The sole witness was USDA’s Dr. Scott Hutchins, deputy undersecretary of research, education, and economics. 

DPR Report Shows Pesticides Below Health Screening Levels
Air monitoring results released this week from the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) show that all of the monitored pesticides were found below levels that indicate a health concern. In 2018, DPR monitored 31 pesticides and five breakdown products in eight ag communities: Shafter (Kern County), Santa Maria and Cuyama (Santa Barbara County), Watsonville (Santa Cruz County), Chualar (Monterey County), Lindsay (Tulare County), Oxnard (Ventura County) and San Joaquin (Fresno County). Out of the 36 pesticides monitored, eight were not detected at all, 17 were only detected at trace levels, and 11 were detected at quantifiable levels. Of the 12,058 analyses, 93.8 percent did not return a detectable concentration. 

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The U.S. EPA on July 12 sent the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) its  final rule to repeal the Obama administration’s 2015 waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. This is the final step before formal issuance. The American Farm Bureau Federation is applauding the action .

DWR Releases Final California Water Plan Update 2018
The Department of Water Resources on July 16 released the  Final 2018 Update  to the California Water Plan. It provides recommended actions, funding scenarios and an investment strategy to bolster efforts by water and resource managers, planners and decision-makers to overcome the state’s water resource challenges.

New Episodes of "California H2O - Flowing for the Future"
Three more videos have been added to the  Association of California Water Agencies’ video series that educates Californians about critical water issues:
  • “Investing in our Future” 
  • “Fixing the Bay-Delta – What’s at Stake?” 
  • “Small Changes, Big Impact” 
CAWG Webinar: New Regulation for Workers Near Wildfire Smoke
July 30 / 10 to 10:30 a.m.
In California, wildfires have tragically become routine. Legislators and regulators are moving quickly to respond by protecting workers exposed to wildfire smoke in the workplace. Join CAWG on Tuesday, July 30 for a brief webinar to discuss upcoming new workplace standards for smoke exposure. CAWG Director of Government Relations Michael Miiller will discuss these new standards and explain the actions growers need to take to comply. Topics include: AQI levels from wildfires, N-95 masks, safety information and FIT tests, medical evaluations, waivers for voluntary use, and more.
Cal/OSHA Advisory Meeting: Protection of Workers from Wildfire Smoke
Cal/OSHA has scheduled an  advisory meeting on Aug. 27 in Oakland to seek input on the development of a permanent regulation for the protection of employees from exposure to unhealthy levels of wildfire smoke. Stakeholders and the public will be able to provide input on information and scientific data on employee exposure to wildfire smoke, control measures, feasibility or costs.
Newsom Signs Wildfire Legislation into Law
Gov. Gavin Newsom on July 12 signed the following wildfire safety and accountability legislation:

  • AB 110 by Assemblymember Philip Ting (D-San Francisco) – Budget Act of 2019.
  • AB 111 by the Committee on Budget – Wildfire agencies: public utilities: safety and insurance.
  • AB 1054 by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) – Public utilities: wildfires and employee protection.

Vineyard & Wine
July issue

Allied Grape Growers President Jeff Bitter interviewed.
Ag Net West, July 16

Herald Net, July 14 

Winegrape Grower of the Year, Paul Hoover, Still Waters Vineyards; Winemaker of the Year, Justin Smith, Saxum Vineyards; and Wine Industry Person of the Year (posthumously), Scott Welcher, Opolo Vineyards.
Press release, July 12
Lodi Harvest Safety Seminar
WHEN: July 23 / 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Lodi Grape Festival Grounds, 413 E Lockeford

> RSVP by July 19!
CSWA: Sustainable Winegrowing Field Day in Santa Rosa
WHEN: July 26 / 7 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, 3245 Guernville Road, Santa Rosa

Mechanization & Precision Management
Dr. Luca Brillante, Fresno State University
Dr. Qun (Kristy) Sun, Fresno State University
Anita Oberholster, UC Davis

Regulatory Update
Michael Miiller, CAWG   
John Segale, Precision Public Relations.
Herman G. Hernandez, PG&E public affairs

18-19 Fermentation Readiness: Harvest Decisions from Vineyard to Winery
WHEN: July 29 / 9 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.
WHERE: The Robert Mondavi Institute Sensory Theater, 392 Old Davis Road, Davis
COST: $175

2019 Kearney Grape Day
WHEN: Aug. 14 / 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

July 30
CAWG Webinar on New Regulation for Workers Near Wildfire Smoke

August 7
Sonoma Grower Education Meeting, Santa Rosa

November 7
CAWG Board of Directors meeting, Modesto