July 11, 2022


In This Edition:

Meetings This Week
Labor & Employment
Educators & Parents
Other News

July 15-31 California State Fair
Oct 29 Harvest Extravaganza
Farm Bureau
Annual Dinner
Once again we were able to gather together as members and friends to celebrate another year of Still Farming. President Michael Ranalli led our evening. Jerry Bridges catered the meal. We look forward to more opportunities to work and spend time together for our community.
Shaun Crook, 2nd VP of California Farm Bureau gave us an update from the state.
Charlene Carveth, El Dorado County Ag Commissioner gave local updates.
Supervisor Lori Parlin from District 4 shared information from El Dorado Water Agency
Aurora Mullett from Intrinsic Insurance shared some great information about protecting our home and property and saving money on insurance.
Susie received a congressional certificate of recognition for Carlan Meyer's lifelong service to agriculture in El Dorado.
Recognition given to Merv De Haas for his years of service to El Dorado Farm Bureau.
Boeger 50th anniversary
Hats off to the Boeger family celebrating their winery’s 50th anniversary. Greg and Sue Boeger came to El Dorado County 50 years ago looking for a place to grow grapes and open a winery. They brought their knowledge of wines from Napa County and the University of California, Davis to restart the El Dorado County wine industry at the old Nichilini Family Vineyard. They are responsible for reviving the El Dorado County wine grape industry from 11 acres to what it is today — more than 60 wineries in the county.

Greg and Sue worked together as a team planting a vineyard, building a winery and marketing the wines. The Boeger Winery helped raise the recognition of El Dorado County and Sierra foothills wines and has received state and worldwide recognition.

Greg has been a member of the Agricultural Commission for more than 30 years, protecting our agricultural choice soils from development. He has also been generous with his knowledge, sharing it with other growers and helping them to develop their vineyards and wineries as well as having had Boeger’s wines poured at the White House twice.

Greg and Sue also planted a lovely family, Justin and Lexi, who are taking over the Boeger legacy, working in the business along with their parents.

El Dorado County’s agricultural industry, rural aspect and our quality of life would not be the same without the Boeger family. Oh, they make a great glass of wine.
Insurance commissioner to host FAIR Plan investigatory hearing
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is hosting an investigatory hearing July 13 regarding California’s FAIR Plan insurance program to gather information, facts and testimony from the public.
The open hearing is meant to determine how to better meet the needs of property owners across the state, according to the commissioner’s office. 
Those wishing to comment... (continued)
Home canned salsa – is it safe?
Everyone loves salsa and we all think our personal recipe is the best. But is it safe to can it at home? There is more science involved in canning tomato-based salsa than you may realize.
First, did you know that tomatoes are not a high-acid fruit? They are actually borderline low acid. That means all tomato products must be acidified before they are home canned so they will remain shelf-stable and safe for our families to eat. Only high-acid foods may be canned using a boiling water or atmospheric steam canner. (continued)
Lake levels as of June 29-30
Stumpy Meadows Percent full 97%
Folsom Reservoir Percent full 83%
Union Valley Reservoir Percent full 97%
Loon Lake Percent full 97%
Ice House Percent full 91%
Lake Aloha Percent full 99%
Caples Lake Percent full 99%
Echo Lake Percent full 100%
Silver Lake Percent full 96%
Sly Park Percent Full 78.6%
American River Flow 124.8 cfs
xx% indicates - reduction xx% indicates - increase xx% unchanged
Cal/OSHA Revises and Readopts COVID-19 ETS
The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board voted on April 21 to revise and readopt the COVID-19 emergency temporary standards (ETS) for the third time. The third revised ETS took effect on May 6 and is in effect until Dec. 31.
The revised ETS includes important changes agricultural employers should understand:
  • Replaces the term high risk exposure period with infectious period. The definition of infectious period is essentially the same as the prior definition of high risk exposure period, but it now incorporates by reference any future order of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that provides a different definition.
  • Unless otherwise defined by a CDPH regulation or order, in which case the CDPH definition applies, infectious period means:
For COVID-19 cases who develop COVID-19 symptoms, from two days before they first develop symptoms until all of the following are true:
  • 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared;
  • 24 hours have passed with no fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications; and,
  • Symptoms have improved.
For COVID-19 cases who never develop COVID-19 symptoms, from two days before until 10 days after their first positive COVID-19 test.
  • Eliminates references to and definition of fully vaccinated. In the prior version of the ETS, some employers’ obligations varied depending on whether an employee was fully vaccinated. The third version of the ETS eliminates this distinction. For example, the third version of the ETS requires employers to provide respirators upon employee request, regardless of vaccination status, and to provide training on how to use the respirator. Under the ETS’s second version, employers needed to provide respirators only if the requesting employee was not fully vaccinated.
  • Drops the requirement that face coverings pass the “light test.” This change seems to have come in response to concerns that many effective face coverings did not pass the requirement in the second ETS that face covers not allow light to pass through them.
  • Includes a definition for returned case of COVID-19 to the workplace. This term was previously undefined, despite certain requirements in the second ETS related to returned cases.
Under the third ETS, a returned case is an employee who returns to work (in compliance with the ETS’s return-to-work criteria described later) and did not develop any symptoms after returning to work. An employee is considered a “returned case” for 90 days after the initial onset of COVID-19 symptoms or, if the person never developed symptoms, for 90 days after the first positive test. If a period of other than 90 days were to be required by a future CDPH regulation or order, that period would apply. Employers need not make COVID-19 testing available to a returned case.
The definition of a COVID-19 case is unchanged:
  • An employee who has a positive COVID-19 test; or;
  • has a positive COVID-19 diagnosis from a licensed health care provider; or,
  • is subject to a COVID-19-related order to isolate issued by a local or state health official; or,
  • has died due to COVID-19, in the determination of a local health department or is included in a county’s COVID-19 statistics.
Under the second ETS, employers had to make testing available at no cost and during paid time to all employees who had close contact in the workplace with a COVID-19 case. Now, an employer need not make testing available to a close contact who is a “returned case.”
  • Eliminates the specific cleaning and disinfecting protocols in the prior versions of the ETS.
  • Changes the requirements for the workplace exclusion of COVID-19 cases. The third ETS eliminates the requirement for exclusion of a close contact from the workplace and instead states that employers must review the current CDPH guidance related to quarantining persons with a close contact and implement procedures to prevent transmission of COVID-19 by close contacts.
The third revised ETS does not change the requirement to pay “exclusion pay” to close contacts who must be excluded from the workplace.
Changes the “return to work” criteria for COVID-19 cases to conform more closely to the CDPH criteria. COVID-19 cases, regardless of vaccination status or previous infection, who do not develop COVID-19 symptoms or whose COVID-19 symptoms are resolving, may not return to work until:
  • At least five days have passed from the date that COVID-19 symptoms began or, if the person does not develop COVID-19 symptoms, from the date of first positive COVID-19 test;
  • At least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher has resolved without the use of fever reducing medications; and
  • A negative COVID-19 test taken on the fifth day or later; or, if unable to test or the employer chooses not to require a test, 10 days have passed from the date that COVID-19 symptoms began or, if the person does not develop COVID-19 symptoms, from the date of first positive COVID-19 test.
COVID-19 cases, regardless of vaccination status or previous infection, whose symptoms are not resolving, may not return to work until:
  • At least 24 hours have passed since a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication; and
  • Symptoms are resolving or 10 days have passed from when the symptoms began.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, previous infection, or lack of symptoms, a case must wear a face covering in the workplace until 10 days have passed since the date that symptoms began or, if the person did not have symptoms, from the date of their first positive test.
In the event of multiple COVID-19 infections or outbreaks, an employer no longer must implement cleanable solid partitions (e.g., plexiglass barriers) around the workstations of an “exposed group.” Rather, under the third revised ETS, employers must evaluate whether physical distancing of at least six feet between persons is feasible, and if not, ensure as much distance as possible.

Cal/OSHA Publishes Updated FAQ and Other Documents on Readopted ETS
On May 7, Cal/OSHA released several updated documents related to the COVID-19 ETS readopted by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board on April 21 and effective May 6:
What Employers Need to Know about the April 21 Standards
COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine – What Employers and Workers Need to Know (Updated May 7));
Revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards Updated May 7, 2022 – FAQ
You can find links to these documents at FELS’ COVID-19 News & Resources for Farm Employers (https://www.fels.net/1/30-labor/654-ready-for-covid-19.html).
FELS offered on May 26 the webinar Is the Third Time the Charm? Cal/OSHA ETS Changes Effective May 6, featuring Erica Rosasco of the employment-law firm McKague Rosasco; you can review Erica’s presentation slides and a recording of the webinar on FELS’ Webinars page (https://www.fels.net/1/27-subscriber%20-resources/691-fels-webinars.html?%20highlight=WyJ3ZWJ%20pbmFyIl0=).
Standards Board Rejects Petition for Self-Driving Ag Equipment at June Meeting
The Cal/OSHA Standards Board rejected a petition filed by Livermore-based Monarch Tractor to allow for the use of driver-optional tractors without a human operator stationed at the vehicular controls within a set of strict safety guidelines at it's June 16 meeting. The petition was originally expected to be considered at the Board’s May meeting but was delayed.
A manufacturer of electric tractors, Monarch Tractor seeks to augment its products with autonomous operation technology.
Monarch’s petition cites the 1970s-era Cal/OSHA standard for furrow-guided driverless tractors, which requires an operator be at the vehicle’s controls to ensure the safety of employees working nearby because such a tractor cannot detect the presence of humans and stop its motion.
Monarch contends the regulation prohibits the deployment of autonomous tractor technology. Modern autonomous tractors feature sensors, computers, and advanced artificial intelligence systems with high-end global positioning systems and eight cameras. This system is designed to detect the presence of any person within seven feet of the tractor and immediately cease all tractor operations, eliminating any risk to humans working nearby.
Monarch has received a temporary variance from Cal/OSHA to allow restricted use of its autonomous tractor technology. The purpose of Cal/ OSHA experimental variances is to demonstrate or validate the safety of new technologies and techniques. The variance requires collection of numerous data points on the autonomous tractor’s safety performance.
Based on the performance of its autonomous vehicle technology, Monarch’s petition asks the Standards Board to promulgate a regulation allowing use of autonomous vehicle technology with warnings at the entrances of any field where an autonomous tractor is in use, very low speed limits, extensive training for users, and compliance with stringent International Standards Organization requirements for positioning systems, obstacle detection systems, and failsafe systems allowing operator control if necessary.
FELS Trainings & Webinars:
July and August 2022 (in-person training): Mandatory Produce Safety Training: The Food Safety Training Partnership, a cooperative effort of California Farm Bureau, Farm Employers Labor Service, and the Safe Food Alliance, is offering produce safety training required by the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Trainings will be offered in-person in Kingsburg, and Modesto. The $35 training fee is substantially supported by a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
You can find registration and more information at the Food Safety Training Partnership website: www.foodsafetytrainingpartnership.org.   
USDA Is Accepting Applications for Placemaking Cooperative Agreements
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is accepting applications for cooperative agreements to help eligible entities provide planning, training and technical assistance to foster placemaking activities in rural and Tribal communities.
The funds are being made available through the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC). USDA is increasing RPIC funding to up to $4 million to assist more rural communities access placemaking assistance. The previous funding level was $3 million.
Today, USDA is inviting eligible entities to apply for up to $250,000 to help rural and Tribal communities create plans to enhance capacity for high-speed internet access; preserve cultural and historic structures; and support development in transportation, housing and recreational spaces.
This technical assistance will help communities convene partners and identify community needs to develop placemaking plans. These plans will help rural areas build back better and stronger. The entities must support participating rural communities for up to two years.
Learn more about this USDA Stakeholder Announcement
EDA Capacity Building Webinar
The webinar will provide an overview on federal grant programs offered at the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support capacity building. Discussed programs are designed to support projects that range from but are not limited to the following:
  • Developing of scalable startups;
  • Creating and sustain manufacturing jobs;
  • Investing in physical infrastructure; and
  • Highlighting case studies that demonstrate success.
This webinar is hosted in partnership with the Fresno State Office of Community & Economic Development (OCED), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and USDA Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement (OPPE).
EDA Capacity Building Webinar
Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Time: 10:00am PST
USDA Announced $90 Million in Support to Prevent and Reduce Food Loss and Waste
The United States wasted $408 billion worth of food in 2019 – more than a third of the total U.S. food supply. Wasted food results in unnecessary uses of energy as well as methane and CO2 emissions; reducing food waste can help the United States meet its climate commitments. On June 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a framework for shoring up the food supply chain and transforming the food system to be fairer, more competitive, and more resilient.
As part of this bold and multi-pronged initiative, USDA will invest $90 million to reduce food loss and waste with $30 million of this amount provided to the USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) to plus up their Composting and Food Waste Reduction cooperative agreements over three years. In 2022, $10.2 million will be awarded to fund pilot projects that develop and implement strategies for food waste reduction and compost plans. OUAIP is soliciting applications from local governments, school districts, and Native American tribes. Priority will be given to projects that include food waste reduction strategies, incorporate a plan to make compost easily accessible to agricultural producers, anticipate or demonstrate economic benefits, and involve multiple partners. A pre-recorded webinar on the purpose, project types, eligibility, and basic requirements for submitting applications is posted on usda.gov/urban. Applications may be submitted until September 1, 2022 via grants.gov. For additional information, view the latest USDA food loss and waste blog post and email UrbanAgriculture@usda.gov with any questions.   
Save the Date for the Second USDA Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair on September 14
On September 14, 2022 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT), USDA will host the second USDA Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair. This free, virtual fair will highlight businesses that are creating or implementing state-of-the-art technical solutions to reduce food loss and waste throughout the food system – from farm to table – and highlight USDA activities in this space. This year’s fair will include a virtual auditorium with presentations, a networking lounge, a trivia quiz, and three exhibit halls with virtual booths. Attendees can add materials into a virtual briefcase to take with them. There are three categories of booth holders showcasing their food loss and waste activities, products, and innovations: (1) U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, (2) USDA agencies sharing their work on food loss and waste (in areas such as research, funding, measurement, outreach), and (3) USDA-funded organizations that are developing or marketing food loss and waste reducing technologies. More information coming soon.
EPA Seeks Input on New Programs Involving Food Waste
The EPA is seeking input on new waste prevention, reuse, and recycling grant programs and initiatives. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides EPA with $375 million to develop several new initiatives, including the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling grant program, the Recycling Education and Outreach grant program, and a Model Recycling Toolkit. The Requests for Information (that have overlap with food waste) focus on the following initiatives:
·    Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling grant program (EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0342)
·    Recycling Education and Outreach grant program and Model Recycling Program Toolkit (EPA-HQ-OLEM-2022-0375)
Comments and information must be received on or before July 25, 2022. Read the announcement and visit the EPA website to learn more about EPA’s efforts to transform recycling and waste management under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.   
Stakeholder Announcement
USDA Rural Development Build America, Buy America Waiver Posted
On November 15, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act ("IIJA"), Pub. L. No. 117-58, which includes the Build America, Buy America Act ("the Act"). Pub. L. No. 117-58, §§ 70901-52. The Act strengthens Made in America Laws and will bolster America’s industrial base, protect national security, and support high-paying jobs.
On April 18, 2022, the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Made in America Office released its guidance for implementing the BABA Act (M-22-11)
This message is to inform you that USDA Rural Development is seeking a public interest waiver to allow additional time to implement BABA pursuant to OMB’s guidance and the Act. The waiver is available for review here on USDA’s Buy American web site.
Interested persons are invited to submit comments on this proposed adjustment period public Interest waiver. To receive consideration, comments must be submitted through email at sm.OCFO.ffac@usda.gov by 5:30 pm Eastern Time, July 18, 2022.
For every two books you read, receive two rides free and a monorail ticket at the CA State Fair & Food Festival! A $15.00 value.
The Read to Ride program is open to students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Students must read two books, write a summary, then bring the completed form to the California State Fair Guest Services office (located inside the Main Gate) to receive two free rides and one monorail ticket.
Read to Ride redemption valid any day of the Fair. Only one report form per child per day will be accepted.
Job Opening? For Sale? Place your free add here. admin@edcfb.com
El Dorado County https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/edcgov
Placerville City https://www.cityofplacerville.org/jobs
El Dorado Ag In The Classroom has opportunities on several committees: Program, Finance, Development, and Marketing. If you have interest in serving as a volunteer on one of these please send an email here.
Let us highlight your business in a future edition of Farm Bureau This Week. Business Spotlight Interview
Is there a story you'd like to share with our members? Let us know at admin@edcfb.com
A billion pounds of California almonds stranded at ports amid drought, trade woes
Almond producer David Phippen didn’t need to hear the latest predictions from agriculture economists to know that his industry was on the verge of losing its premier position in the global market. He saw it coming during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when oceanic carriers discovered they could make twice as many annual round trips — and higher profit margins — by sending empty containers back to Asia to pick up more goods for export instead of waiting in port here to be loaded with his almonds. Almond exports are down by about 13% this year, industry officials said. Roughly 7,600 California farms produce 82% of the world’s almonds. But they don’t get paid until their product gets delivered. About 1.3 billion pounds of unsold almonds are still sitting in piles at processing and packing facilities.
Feds want a ‘range rider’ to protect California cattle from wolves, but no killing allowed
Ever daydreamed about listening to wolves howl on the open range with a herd of cows and your horses as your only companions? Then the U.S. Department of Agriculture has just the job for you in northeastern California. On Friday, the federal agency’s Wildlife Services branch posted an advertisement for a “Range Rider” position. The employee’s mission would be to protect cattle from wolf attacks in Modoc, Lassen, and Plumas counties. Under California law, people cannot kill wolves under any circumstances, so the range rider would need to use “non-lethal wildlife mitigation” to keep the wolves away from the cattle, according to the posting.
California’s drought is dire. But there’s a surprising bright spot that may make this year better than last
The first five months of the year have been the driest on record. Snowpack in the mountains, at its usual April 1 peak, was the smallest it’s been in seven years. Reservoirs are hovering near historic lows for the season, including Lake Shasta, the state’s largest. But there’s one, albeit small, bright spot: spring runoff. The water that pours from the mountains to rivers and streams, one of the most important barometers of state water supplies, is up substantially from over a year ago — though still far below normal. This year, water experts say less water is being lost to soil infiltration, plant transpiration, and evaporation largely because of the timing of storms over the wet season — this despite there being fewer storms than average during the water year of Oct. 1 to Sept. 31.
Falling commodity prices raise hopes that inflation has peaked
A slide in all manner of raw-materials prices—corn, wheat, copper, and more—is stirring hopes that a significant source of inflationary pressure might be starting to ease. heat, corn, and soybeans all wound up cheaper than they were at the end of March. Cotton unraveled, losing more than a third of its price since early May. Benchmark prices for building materials copper and lumber dropped 22% and 31%, respectively. “Moderating commodity prices are clear evidence that inflation is cooling,” said Louis Navellier, chief investment officer at Reno, Nev., money manager Navellier & Associates. 
California cuts cannabis taxes to heal ailing industry
California is significantly overhauling its cannabis tax structure, including entirely eliminating a tax on growers, in an effort to boost a struggling legal industry begging for relief. The changes, which were adopted last week as part of a broader state budget agreement, will also create tax credits for some cannabis businesses, expand labor rights within the industry, and switch collection of a state excise tax from distributors to retailers. That tax will pause at 15% for three years, after which regulators could raise the rate to recoup lost revenue from discontinuing the cultivation tax. Prominent cannabis industry groups praised the plan for its potential to lower costs and help make legal sales more competitive with an illicit market that remains robust six years after California voters legalized recreational marijuana.
There are no simple solutions to California’s complicated water problem. This is why
Fritz Durst, a farmer in Yolo County, didn’t receive enough water from the federal government to plant a rice crop this spring. But the feds did give him a consolation prize. In March the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency invited the backers of Sites Reservoir — a mammoth water storage project in the Sacramento Valley that’s being personally led by Durst — to apply for a $2.2 billion construction loan. The loan is far from a done deal, but the invitation means the EPA is seriously interested in backing the project, bringing Sites tantalizingly close to reality after years of planning. This story is a subscriber-exclusive “I was ecstatic. We finally convinced people this was a worthy project,” said Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority. But the reservoir, planned for a spot straddling the Glenn-Colusa county line, 10 miles west of the Sacramento River, won’t dig California out of its current mega-drought. Even if all goes according to plan — a pretty big if — Sites wouldn’t finish construction until 2030.
The Southwest is bone dry. Now, a key water source is at risk
California and six other Western states have less than 60 days to pull off a seemingly impossible feat: Cut a multi-way deal to dramatically reduce their consumption of water from the dangerously low Colorado River. If they don’t, the federal government will do it for them. A federal Bureau of Reclamation ultimatum last month, prompted by an extreme climate-change-induced drop in water levels at the nation’s largest reservoirs, reopens years of complicated agreements and political feuds among the communities whose livelihoods depend on the river. California’s Imperial Valley, with its vast swaths of farmlands, uses more water than its neighboring water districts — and could be a target for much of the cuts. “You can’t possibly overestimate how hard this is,” said Felicia Marcus, a fellow at Stanford University’s Water in the West program and former chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board.
Trump-Era changes to endangered species act tossed by court
A federal judge in California threw out Trump-era changes to the Endangered Species Act, including one that allowed economic factors to be considered on whether to list a species as threatened or endangered. The ruling Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar in Oakland, Calif., also voids regulations that made it more difficult to give protections to species threatened by anticipated future events, such as the impacts of climate change. The ruling came in a lawsuit that Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, and other environmental nonprofits filed in 2019 to challenge the Trump-era changes, which they said in court papers “undermine[s] protection of imperiled species or their habitat.” Several industry groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Association of Home Builders, had said in the lawsuit that it would be “an abuse of discretion” for the judge to void the rules.
Bill Gates just won legal approval to buy 2,100 acres of North Dakota farmland worth $13.5M — and people are ‘livid’ about it all across the state
Bill Gates made his fortune in tech, but he’s now betting big on something completely different: farmland. Last week, Gates secured legal approval for purchasing 2,100 acres of farmland from northeastern North Dakota potato growers Campbell Farms. Having amassed nearly 270,000 acres of farmland across dozens of states, Gates is already the largest private owner of farmland in America. Gates’ purchase of farmland in North Dakota initially raised concerns because of a Depression-era law that prohibits corporations and limited liability companies from owning farmland in the region. "I’ve gotten a big earful on this from clear across the state, it’s not even from that neighborhood," said North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. "Those people are upset, but there are others that are just livid about this”.
PD Editorial: Almond milk by any other name would taste as creamy
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to declare that non-dairy milk alternatives aren’t really milk. Henceforth producers would need to call their product something else. Goodbye “almond milk,” hello “almond drink,” or some better market-tested name. Advocates from the dairy-industrial complex argue that when nondairy products call themselves almond milk or whatever, it confuses consumers. Shoppers might buy soy milk thinking that they can bake with it or that they’ll get the same nutritional content as good old American cow’s milk. But that almond and soy stuff is totally different. The idea that consumers can’t figure out that soy milk differs from cow milk is condescending at best. Shoppers who pick up “soy milk” or “almond milk” know that they aren’t getting cow milk.

Fertilizer stocks are coming back to earth, dragged down by falling crop prices
Falling crop prices are threatening what has been one of the surest bets in the stock market over the past two years. Shares of fertilizer makers, including Mosaic Co. and CF Industries Holdings Inc., have been dragged down in recent weeks by declining prices for corn, wheat, and other crops. Though fertilizer stocks remain above where they traded before the pandemic, they have since spring shed much of their 2022 gains. Investors and analysts are trying to decide now whether fertilizer stocks got swept up in the broad market selloff and could reverse course, or if they were bid up too high in the panic after Russia invaded Ukraine and have farther to fall.
Corn, soybeans, and wheat are down over 20% from peaks
Corn (CZ=F), soybeans (ZS=F), and wheat (ZW=F) have tumbled over the last couple of weeks. Agricultural commodity futures are in the bear market territory, more than 20% off their peaks earlier this year. The "talk across all commodity assets is demand destruction," Dennis Sweeney, CEO of Infinity Brokerage, told Yahoo Finance. "I believe funds are worried about a recession." Agricultural commodities skyrocketed earlier this year when Russia invaded Ukraine. Supply concerns drove prices to record highs. Wheat futures are currently off more than 30% from their March highs. Corn and soybean futures have given up all their 2022 gains. "Bids were scarce as funds tried to exit the last couple of weeks," said Sweeney.
Study says California employers fail to keep food, farm workers safe from COVID
Although farm and food production workers were considered essential workers during the pandemic, many of California’s food employers endangered those workers, violating Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 guidelines more often than most industries, a new report said. The California Institute for Rural Studies’ report said farm and food production employers routinely failed to provide workers with face masks, nor did they enforce physical distancing or notify workers when there were COVID outbreaks at worksites. Cal/OSHA fined Brutocao Vineyards $3,710 in September 2020 for allegedly failing to provide face masks for three workers and neglecting to keep workers six feet apart. Len Brutocao, director of vineyard operations, blamed the violations on the workers. “We provided the masks, and they just didn’t wear them,” he said in an interview.
Wildfire update: Electra Fire slows as crews hold acreage, containment overnight
The Electra Fire maintained its acreage and containment overnight Thursday, as crews took advantage of cool weather to tamp down hot spots at the blaze near Jackson. The fire, which is burning along the Amador-Calaveras county line, is 4,112 acres and 40% contained as of Thursday morning, Cal Fire said. After roaring to life Monday, prompting widespread evacuation orders — and temporarily trapping around 100 people in a PG&E powerhouse — the blaze burned steadily through Wednesday. Crews increased containment Wednesday from 10% to 40% and a number of evacuation orders and warnings were lifted. Cal Fire expects full containment by July 18, according to the Thursday morning incident report. The fire is burning in a canyon next to the north fork of the Mokelumne River. Crews have so far been able to stop the fire from spreading to populated areas outside of the canyon, but 1,217 structures remain threatened by the blaze, Cal Fire said Thursday.
California deepens water cuts to cope with drought, hitting thousands of farms
California regulators have begun curtailing the water rights of many farms and irrigation districts along the Sacramento River, forcing growers to stop diverting water from the river and its tributaries. The order, which took effect Thursday, puts a hold on about 5,800 water rights across the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers’ watersheds, reflecting the severity of California’s extreme drought. Together with a similar order in June, the State Water Resources Control Board has now curtailed 9,842 water rights this year in the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds, more than half of the nearly 16,700 existing rights. A long list of agricultural water suppliers were emailed notices this week ordering them to stop water diversions from rivers and streams. They included Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Browns Valley Irrigation District, and Nevada Irrigation District.
L.A. wins water battle with Mono County amid worsening drought
A state appellate court has reversed a judge’s ruling that would have required the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to conduct an environmental review before making annual decisions about deliveries of water on pastureland it owns east of Yosemite. The appellate court’s reversal ensures that the agency “will continue to have the flexibility required to balance the state’s strained water resources with the needs of people and the environment,” said Anselmo Collins, the LADWP’s senior assistant general manager of water systems. A lawsuit filed against the agency by Mono County and the Sierra Club was triggered by new leases the agency proposed in 2018 indicating that ranchers on its 6,100 acres in Long Valley should expect little to no irrigation water when they renew. In a June 30 opinion that dismayed environmentalists and ranchers, a three-judge panel agreed with Los Angeles and reversed the trial court judge’s ruling. The water rights in the area, it added, belong to Los Angeles, and the availability of an annual allotment for irrigation “is highly dependent upon water availability and weather conditions: due to this, delivery of irrigation water may be reduced in dry years.”
Californians are living in an age of extreme fire
California is threatened with another difficult fire season this year as the state’s wildfire crisis collides with drought. In anticipation, the state and federal governments have bumped up budgets for boosting forest resiliency. Firefighting agencies have worked to increase staffing. Communities have organized to build fire lines and clear trees out of neighborhoods. “We’re doing everything we can on multiple fronts to prepare to make sure the state is less impacted than years prior,” said Chris Amestoy, a staff chief for Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency. The recent surge in wildfires is largely the result of thick vegetation that built up from decades of fire suppression, and then was primed by the warming climate. It’s a multipronged problem that is not easy to fix. Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service are working to reduce the accumulation of forest fuels, pledging to thin trees and conduct prescribed burns on 1 million acres a year in the state by 2025.
Falling food prices give hope for peak inflation bets
Soaring prices of agricultural goods, triggered in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on fertilizer and wheat supplies, in particular, have been one of the most painful elements of the cost-of-living shock in economies spanning the globe. But there are now signs the wave may be cresting. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s food-price index dropped for a third straight month in June. And an index of agricultural commodities compiled by JPMorgan Chase was tracking a 10% drop in early July, thanks especially to a correction lower in wheat prices. “Food inflation is set to come off the boil” assuming agricultural commodities stabilize, JPMorgan economists Nora Szentivanyi and Katherine Marney wrote in a note on Thursday. The Wall Street bank’s base case features a halving in global food inflation from a 13% annual rate in the second quarter to 5.5% to 6% in the final three months of the year.
Chicken Industry Officials Acquitted in Price-Fixing Case
Federal prosecutors failed for a third time to convict five chicken-company officials of allegedly conspiring to fix prices, dealing a blow to the Justice Department’s antitrust division and its efforts to rein in the meat industry.
Jurors in a Denver federal court on Thursday evening acquitted all five defendants, who had been accused of illicitly coordinating among themselves what their companies would charge restaurant buyers.
It was the third trial attempt by the Justice Department in its high-profile case against current and former executives of large chicken processors, including Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. PPC -2.34%▼ and Claxton Poultry Farms. The defendants included Jayson Penn and Bill Lovette, both former chief executives of Pilgrim’s, the second-largest U.S. chicken supplier by volume.
Bayer, BASF win new trial on $60 mln damage award in U.S. weedkiller lawsuit
Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) and BASF (BASFn.DE) have won a new trial on $60 million in punitive damages they were ordered to pay a Missouri peach farmer who said dicamba, a herbicide they produced, drifted onto his orchard and harmed his crops. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that a federal jury was wrongly told to assess punitive damages for Bayer and BASF together, rather than separately. It said a new trial was needed to determine punitive damages for each company. BASF, which had argued on appeal that the joint award was unfair because the case focused on the conduct of Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, said in a statement that it was pleased with the ruling. Tracey George, a lawyer for farmer Bill Bader, said in an email, "We are confident that BASF's reprehensible conduct and sizable net worth will result in an even larger punitive damages award upon retrial."
2021/2022 Board of Directors
President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mike Ranalli
Secretary . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maryann Argyres
Treasurer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gordon Helm
Jim Davies
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El Dorado County Farm Bureau News is a weekly publication for its members. Dues for membership are $185 for agricultural members, $150 for Business Ag Support, $72 for Associate members and $25 for Collegiate. Non-profit postage paid at Placerville, CA. Postmaster: Send changes to 2460 Headington Road, Placerville, CA 95667 El Dorado County Farm Bureau does not assume responsibility for statements by advertisers or for products advertised in El Dorado County newsletter, nor does Farm Bureau assume responsibility for statements or expressions of opinion other than in editorials or in articles showing authorship by an officer, director or employee of El Dorado County Farm Bureau or its affiliates.
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