San Luis Obispo County Agriculture News
January 8, 2021
Farm Bureau to Represent Agriculture Industry on San Luis Obispo County COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force
Amid chaos in the nation's capitol and continued concern over COVID here at home this week, local farmers and ranchers were still busy keeping us fed. San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau member Babé Farms shared a photo from their romanesco harvest underway Thursday in the Santa Maria Valley.

Farm Bureau is among a group of local community and industry leaders comprising the SLO County COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. The task force met for the first time this week and will work to ensure that high-risk and vulnerable community members have quick and equitable access to the vaccine. The task force includes first responders (Emergency Management Services, the Fire Department, law enforcement), hospitals, bioethicists, community health centers, faith leaders, racial equity groups (NAACP, Promotores), disability service organizations, multilingual organizations, senior citizens, the unhoused, Transitions Mental Health Association, and essential sectors, such as education, agriculture, utilities, and transportation.

Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett represents agriculture on the task force and said the exact timeline for getting vaccines to ag industry workers is still unknown, but estimates are early March. "The County is moving as quickly as possible to cover the 1A group of frontline healthcare workers and people in long term care facilities," Burchett explained, "and agriculture will be in the very next group called 1B."

San Luis Obispo Tribune published a helpful Q&A article on the vaccine rollout today, including discussion from County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. “Our two Achilles heels are, one, having all the staff to administer the expanded number of doses and, two, having the vaccine supply,” Borenstein said Wednesday. “With respect to the vaccine supply, we are not able to predict more than a week out how much we’re able to get from the manufacturers. ...”

Follow the latest vaccine information on the County's website. If you are an ag employer, please contact Brent next week at 805-543-3654 or to give feedback on the upcoming vaccine process. Farm Bureau needs input on:
  • The number of employees you potentially will need to be vaccinated;
  • What would be the easiest way to distribute the vaccine to your workers;
  • Whether you are considering requiring vaccination as a condition of employment; and
  • Whether your employees or contracted workers are currently residing in SLO County or when they will return to the county.
This Week in SLO County Agriculture
In This Issue:
  • Community News: Dick Nock Passes Away at Age 89
  • COVID Assistance: SBA and Treasury Announce PPP Re-Opening; Issue New Guidance
  • Business Member Spotlight: Pacific Computer Supply
  • Wildfire News
  • SLO County Board of Supervisors Met January 5
  • Government Affairs Updates: Farm Bureau Sues State Over New Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards
  • Labor News: Sacramento Bee - An 'Epidemic of Lawsuits' Due to COVID? Businesses Want Protection, Setting Up 2021 Battle
  • Produce News: First CLAS-positive Asian Citrus Psyllid Found in San Diego County
  • Hemp & Cannabis News
  • Vineyard & Winery News
  • Livestock News
  • USDA News: Lonnie Twisselman Elected to County FSA Committee
  • Water News: New Times SLO - State Water Board Worries Paso Robles Groundwater Decline Will Impact Domestic Wells
  • Upcoming Events and Trainings
  • Wisdom From the Farm & Ranch - The Tax Poem
Community News: Dick Nock Passes Away at Age 89
Local agriculture leader Dick Nock passed away December 27 at age 89. Please consider honoring Dick's memory by making a contribution to the SLO County Cattlemen's Association for the Dick Nock Memorial Fund. The fund will be used to support young people exhibiting beef animals at the California Mid-State Fair. Make checks payable to SLO County Cattlemen's Association and mail to:

Dick Nock Memorial Fund
C/O SLO County Cattlemen's Association
P.O. Box 302
Paso Robles, CA 93447
AFBF Annual Convention & Trade Show - Virtual | January...

The American Farm Bureau Federation announced today that its 102 nd Annual Convention will be held online following the cancelation of all events through Jan. 31, 2021, at the San Diego Convention Center where the convention was scheduled to take ...

Read more
Templeton farm goes into 'hibernation mode' as pandemic...

A fifth-generation farm and produce shop in Templeton is closing its doors until the tourism industry bounces back in San Luis Obispo County. Jack Creek Farms, owned by the Barlagio family, has sold home-grown crops, baked goods, honey and goods...

Read more
Former SLO City Council member is trading politics for...

During his four years on San Luis Obispo's City Council, Aaron Gomez often spoke about the need to combat climate change through individual actions. He advocated biking, walking, reducing purchases of food in plastic packaging and spending money...

Read more
COVID Assistance: SBA and Treasury Announce PPP Re-Opening, Issue New Guidance
Agricultural Businesses May Apply for Grants From State - Ag Alert
Small businesses in need of relief from the COVID-19 pandemic will have a chance to apply for grants through the California Office of the Small Business Advocate.

Two rounds of grants, totaling $475 million, will be awarded to for-profit and nonprofit businesses with gross annual revenues from $1,000 to $2.5 million.

The deadline for a first round of applications has been extended until Jan. 13.

Continue reading by clicking here or review the grant program site here.
SBA and Treasury Announce PPP Re-Opening; Issue New Guidance

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced today that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP...

Read more
Business Member Spotlight:
Pacific Computer Supply
At Pacific Computer Supply we source and create unique, fully customized IT infrastructures based on your business objectives by sourcing the best computer equipment available. Everything from workstations, to servers, and network components; also, software and licensing, parts, peripherals, and supplies.

Pacific Computer Supply has been a leading nationwide authorized reseller of computer equipment, business software, and office products since 1976. We work directly with you to analyze your computer networks, assess the strengths and weaknesses of your IT infrastructure, and source the best computer equipment to meet your needs. We take care of the technology, so that you can take care of business.
1111 Riverside Ave #300d | Paso Robles, CA  93446
(805) 835-4707. Monday - Friday 8:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Thank You Farm Bureau Members
Renewing Platinum Support Member

Renewing Business Support Members
Sunbelt Vineyards, Glenn Burdette

Renewing Members
James Spitzley, Olympio Fiscalini Jr, Double H Avocado Ranch, Dave Alford, Pacific Energy Company
Featured Member Benefit: California Grown
Are your products labeled California Grown? Farm Bureau members in California can now have access to a 50% discount on California Grown branding and licensing for their agricultural commodities. The purpose of the California Grown brand is to increase awareness and consumption of California agricultural products among California consumers. California Farm Bureau, a California Grown member, is partnering with California Grown to further promote the brand and as a result, Farm Bureau members have access to a significant discount.

If you are interested in the program and are looking for more information about the California Grown branding, please go to the California Grown website at or phone (916) 441- 5302. *Some limitations may apply.
Wildfire News
Billions of dollars spent on fighting California...

When COVID-19 blew a hole in California's spending plans last spring, one of the things state budget-cutters took an axe to was wildfire prevention. A $100-million pilot project to outfit older homes with fire-resistant materials was dropped....

Read more
Ag Pass program aims to improve wildfire preparedness on ...

When the Detwiler Fire broke out near his family's ranch in 2017, Tony Toso was home to take defensive action to protect his family and animals. The Mariposa County rancher feels ...

Read more
U.S. Disaster Costs Doubled in 2020, Reflecting Costs ...

The $95 billion in damage came in a year marked by a record number of named Atlantic storms, as well as the largest wildfires recorded in California. Hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters across the ...

Read more
SLO County Board of Supervisors Met January 5
San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors met on January 5. Watch a video of the meeting by clicking here. Items pertaining to agriculture included:

  • Item 12 - Request to appoint Kristina Simpson-Spearman as the District 3 representative to the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission. All Districts. Read more here.
  • Item 13 - Request to reappoint Jerry Diefenderfer to the Agricultural Liaison Advisory Committee as a District 5 Representative. All Districts. Read more here.
  • Item 38 - Request to: 1) receive and file a report on redrawing supervisorial districts for the 2021 redistricting process; 2) provide staff direction regarding the Board’s preferred methodology for the 2021 redistricting process; and 3) set a Special Board Meeting. Read more here.
  • Item 41 - Hearing to adopt the attached Ordinances amending Title 22 (Land Use Ordinance), Title 23 (Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance), and Chapter 1.05 (Administrative Fines) of Title 1 (General Provisions) of the San Luis Obispo County Code to establish a hearing officer for traditional code enforcement cases and make additional amendments to facilitate a more effective and efficient code enforcement process. Read more here.

Supervisors are scheduled to meet January 26.
Government Affairs Updates: Farm Bureau Sues State Over New Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards
Proposed budget for 2021-'22 - highlights for CDFA

For CDFA, Governor Newsom's proposed budget represents an important step in facilitating economic recovery after the tumult of 2020. And of course, we're still facing those challenges, but we're also leaning forward to embrace what's ahead.

Read more
AFBF Statement on Capitol Violence

"All of us at the American Farm Bureau Federation are saddened by the events that took place in Washington, DC yesterday. Our democracy is precious, and our dedication to the peaceful transfer of power is what sets us apart from much of the rest...

Read more
California Farm Bureau's Friday Review
Read the extensive January 8 legislative and governmental update by clicking here.
New California Laws Affect Agricultural Operations

Wildfire defense, labor, crop protection and the nearly yearlong COVID-19 pandemic led to a flurry of new laws affecting agriculture, many of which took effect New Year's Day. 
In addition, two laws enacted in 2016 will continue to affect pay rates for agricultural employees.  As of Jan. 1, the state minimum wage has risen again, to $14 per hour for larger employers—those with 26 or more employees on the payroll at any time during the year—and $13 for smaller employers with 25 or fewer people...

To read more click here.
Farm Bureau Sues State Over New Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards

A coalition of agricultural and business employers has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the COVID-19 related emergency temporary standards (ETS) recently approved by the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Board).

The complaint alleges, among other things, that the Board lacks statutory authority to impose many of the sweeping measures of the ETS on California employers.

To read more click here.
Labor News: Sacramento Bee - An 'Epidemic of Lawsuits' Due to COVID? Businesses Want Protection, Setting Up 2021 Battle
New Report Details Findings of Ag Labor Investigations

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) provides in-depth analysis of ag labor investigations over the past twenty years. The Federal Labor Standards Enforcement in Agriculture report notes that a vast majority of investigations...

Read more
An 'epidemic of lawsuits' due to COVID? Businesses want...

Manuel Cosme has been providing help to small businesses for 35 years. He's never seen such worry and confusion as he has in the past few months. "I have a box of tissues in my office. We've had clients who cry in our office not knowing what to...

Read more
California farmworkers feed us. They deserve priority...

On December 20, the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend that state and local health authorities prioritize farm workers for COVID-19 vaccinations under the 1B phase for vaccine distribution, which would put...

Read more
FFCRA and COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave in 2021 - What Happens Now?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired December 31, 2020. As a reminder, the FFCRA applied to employers with 500 or fewer employees. To fill the gap left by the FFCRA, California enacted its own California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave, enacted as Labor Code section 248.1. The California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave also set to expire December 31, 2020, and was to automatically extend if the FFCRA was extended.

To learn more click here.
Ag Employment Policy Updated Webinar Video

Bryan Little of Farm Employers Labor Service, Seth Mehrten of Barsamian & Moody and Taylor Arnold of Hanna Brophy provided information on major ag employment policy developments for 2021 and provided information and strategies to cope with these new mandates. 
You can view a video of the webinar here. You can view Taylor Arnold's presentation here. You can view Seth Mehrten's presentation here. You can view Bryan Little's presentation here
Learn How to Prevent Forced Labor in Produce Industry

We might not not think about it, but human trafficking is a serious problem in San Luis Obispo County, and you can help. An “Intro to Responsible Recruitment for US Fresh Produce" training will be held Jan. 14th 8am–12pm PST and Jan. 28th 8am–12pm, and includes tools on how to ID and handle any occurrences of forced labor incidents that may arise through H2A and migratory recruitment. Tools include templates on internal policies, grievance mechanisms employer forms, and employer contracts, along with data on cases of forced labor in the US.
To register click here.
UPDATE: EEOC Issues Guidance for Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccine Policies

Though a COVID-19 vaccine for large swaths of the U.S. population may not be available until the Spring or Summer of 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the principal agency coordinating enforcement of federal anti-discrimination laws, has issued guidance indicating that employers may require employees to take a COVID-19 vaccine potentially as a condition as a return-to-work or workplace access condition. 
To read more click here.
New California Workplace Law to Help Cope With COVID Met With Opposition

When a COVID-19 outbreak struck the Tesla plant in Fremont last spring, workers accused the company of not being upfront about possible infections. "I'm very worried for my health," said one worker last May

Tesla denied the allegation. But such concerns perhaps helped lead to a new California law that takes effect Friday.

To read more click here.
Produce News: First CLAS-positive Asian Citrus Psyllid Found in San Diego County
First CLAS-positive Asian Citrus Psyllid Found in San Diego County

An Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) sample – confirmed positive for Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas), the bacteria that causes Huanglongbing (HLB) – was collected from a residential property in the Fallbrook area of San Diego County. Confirmed by Citrus Research Board’s Jerry Dimitman Laboratory, this adult psyllid sample is the first CLas-positive ACP found in San Diego County.

To learn more click here.
California Organic Farmers Keep Up with Demand - AG...

With California Ag Today, I'm Tim Hammerich. Demand for organic produce continues to rise. How are growers scaling their production system to meet this demand while still...

Read more
Top Vegetable Industry Stories of 2020

We took a look at which articles drew the most attention. The top articles range from breakthrough plants to news about the U.S. Embassy in Mexico shutting down visas to H-2A workers. ...

Read more
High Density Avocado Farming -

New Avocado Study Outlines Costs/Returns of High-Density Plantings By Pam Kan-Rice UCANR Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach Growers considering producing avocados in San Diego County with high-density plantings now have help to...

Read more
White Strawberry One of Two New Varieties Ready for...

Enjoy the following article featuring two new strawberry varieties out of the University of Florida that may prove to be of value to West Coast growers in the near future. A white strawberry? Not red? Yes, you "read" that right. And it smells a...

Read more
Calavo reports net loss for 2020 amid avocado market...

California-based avocado company Calavo Growers reported a net loss in its financial year amid heavy saturation of the market and the ongoing closures of foodservice outlets due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The organization recorded total revenue...

Read more
The ABC’s of Plant Pathology Webinar Series from UCCE
2020-2021 California Avocado Release Dates Available
Dec. 18, 2020 - The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Avocado Inspection Program has announced the avocado release dates for the 2020/2021 season.

Based upon historical dry weight data, the Avocado Inspection Service of the California Department of Food and Agriculture has established release dates by size for each avocado variety. Prior to the release dates, fruit of the specified variety and size will be tested by the state for maturity. Fruit can be marketed without testing once the release date has passed. Read the announcement here.
Hemp & Cannabis News
In California, a Push to Allow CBD in Food Resumes

Last year, California lawmakers came close to passing legislation that would have established the largest regulated hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) market in the US. Assembly member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry spearheaded the push, which sparked...

Read more
2020 Hemp Hindsight

When the next history books are written, 2020 will likely get its own chapter. From the COVID-19 pandemic to criminal justice unrest to the ongoing political nightmare, it's been an ugly year for all of us. The hemp industry had no herd immunity...

Read more
Vineyard & Winery News
House & Senate Vote to Make Craft Beverage Bill Permanent

Legislation Ensures Critical Tax Relief for Wineries Will Not Expire.

Wine Institute welcomed last night's congressional vote to make permanent the lower wine excise tax rates originally enacted in 2017. The omnibus appropriations and COVID-19 stimulus package passed by the House and Senate makes the the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (S. 362/H.R. 1175) permanent...

To read more click here.
Gallo's $810 million buyout of Constellation's...

Nearly two years after a deal was first announced, E. & J. Gallo's mega-acquisition of 30 wine brands including Ravenswood, Mark West, Manischewitz and Clos du Bois from Constellation Brands is finally going through - though it doesn't quite look ...

Read more
Eight ways wine will change in 2021

Where to start? Covid-19 upended all our oenophile habits, shifting how we buy wine (online more than ever), how we taste and learn about it (virtually), and where we end up drinking it. (Not at parties, bars, and restaurants.) Thankfully, many...

Read more
Livestock News
Bills to Aid Meat Processing Gain Momentum

Pandemic-caused production backups and supply-chain disruptions at large U.S. meatpacking plants have helped a number of proposed federal bills gain traction, including legislation to help increase processions capacity and new markets.

To read more click here.
An endangered wolf was shot to death in California. Then ...

At least seven California game wardens wearing bulletproof vests and sidearms drove into Big Valley, past alfalfa fields and cattle pastures. Their pickups crunched along a dirt road before turning onto a ranch. Carrying a warrant, the wardens...

Read more
USDA News: Lonnie Twisselman Elected to County FSA Committee
Conservation Reserve Program General Signup Begins Ends February 12

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) can sign up for the popular program beginning today, Jan. 4, 2021, until Feb. 12, 2021.

The competitive program, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.

To learn more click here.
Farmers to Families Food Box Program Renewed...

(Washington, D.C., January 4, 2021) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food for nationwide distribution through the Farmers to...

Read more
NRCS offers California producers assistance to improve...

PUBLISHED ON DAVIS, Calif. - USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing technical and financial assistance to help farmers and ranchers in California make improvements in their operations...

Read more
San Luis Obispo County Farm Service Agency Announces County Committee Election Results 
San Luis Obispo County U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that County Committee elections are over and the ballots have been counted. 
Lonnie Twisselman of Shandon was elected to represent local administrative area (LAA) # 3. Michael L Wagster of Santa Margarita will serve as the first alternate. Continue reading here.
Water News: New Times SLO - State Water Board Worries Paso Robles Groundwater Decline Will Impact Domestic Wells
State water board worries Paso Robles groundwater...

As North County water stakeholders wait for the state's approval of a 20-year Paso Robles Groundwater Basin sustainability plan, the State Water Resources Control Board recently expressed concerns about whether that plan does enough to reverse...

Read more
Column: Wall Street can now bet on the price of water...

Wall Street's reputation as one of America's premier innovation machines can only be enhanced by a new futures contract that ...

Read more
Wall Street Eyes Billions in the Colorado's Water

The Great Read Investor interest in the river could redefine century-old rules for who controls one of the most valuable economic resources in the United States. Farmland meets the desert, separated by an irrigation canal, near Fruita, Colo....

Read more
California Supreme Court Decision Expands CEQA to Groundwater Well Construction Permits

On August 27, 2020, in Protecting our Water and Environmental Resources v. County of Stanislaus (“Protecting Our Water”), the California Supreme Court held that the county under its existing ordinance could not categorically classify the issuance of groundwater well construction permits as ministerial actions exempt from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”).

At issue in this case is Stanislaus County’s (County) process for approving well construction applications under its local ordinance, which incorporates state well construction standards.

To read more click here.
California's water wars serve as a 'bellwether' for...

After three decades of water wars in Southern California, policy experts hope a new era in collaborative management will offer inspiration for the ongoing and complex negotiations over Colorado River allocations amid a historic and deepening drought.

Read more
Upcoming Events and Trainings
Cal Poly Center for Sustainability Calendar
Cal Poly 
1. Aspire to Grow Conference, Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Agriculture: 2/18 
2. Cal Poly Meats (and more) Drive Thru: Thurs-Sat

San Luis Obispo County
5. Women for the Land, Virtual Learning Circle for SLO/SB/Ventura Counties: 1/19 & 1/26
7. Stories of a Resilient SLO, SLO Climate Coalition: 1/28

8. Real Organic Symposium: Sundays in January
10. EcoFarm Conference: 1/20-23
11. AgEmerge 2021: Scaling Up Regenerative Agriculture: 1/25
16. Virtual Compost 2021: 1/26-27
18. CA Native Shrub I.D. and Propagation Workshop, SLO Botanical Garden: 1/30

AgNet West - California Ag Calendar
Advertise with SLO County Farm Bureau
Get Your Message in Front of Over 1000 San Luis Obispo Countians!
Our weekly E-News is sent out every Friday to our membership. If you're interested in an effective, low-cost advertising campaign ($150 a month) please give us a call or send an email to SLO County Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett.
Wisdom From the Farm & Ranch
The Tax Poem

Tax his land, tax his wage, 
Tax his bed in which he lays. 
Tax his tractor, tax his mule, 
Teach him taxes are the rule. 
Tax his cow, tax his goat, 
Tax his pants, tax his coat. 
Tax his ties, tax his shirts, 
Tax his work, tax his dirt. 
Tax his tobacco, tax his drink, 
Tax him if he tries to think. 
Tax his booze, tax his beers, 
If he cries, tax his tears. 
Tax his bills, tax his gas, 
Tax his notes, tax his cash. 
Tax him good and let him know, 
That after taxes, he has no dough. 
If he hollers, tax him more, 
Tax him until he's good and sore. 
Tax his coffin, tax his grave, 
Tax the sod in which he lays. 
Put these words upon his tomb, 
"Taxes drove me to my doom!" 
And when he's gone, we won't relax, 
We'll still be after the inheritance TAX!

Membership: Join or Renew
Join Farm Bureau now or renew your membership online. Go to to join, or download the membership form PDF. Have your renewal notice available to speed the process; you will need to enter your membership number, name and ZIP code. Renewal dues may be paid online using either Visa® or MasterCard®.

We're here to help! Call us if you need some assistance with membership, at 805-543-3654. All California county Farm Bureau memberships are processed through the California Farm Bureau Federation, but please reach out to our SLO County office if you need your membership number or have questions.

Don't forget about our Fact Fund. Information and communication about laws, events, workshops, and more are funded, in part, by Fact Fund donations. We separate fact from fiction when it comes to agriculture practices and people. Make your donation when you renew, today. Every dollar helps with postage, printing and online communications.
Thank You San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau
Platinum Members