Stay on top of issues of particular importance to the almond processing community on these pages. Look for the current status of these priority items, and where to go for more information.
Farm Bill 2014
The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year authorizing legislation that sets policy for an array of agricultural and food programs. The farm bill is renewed every five years, with some exceptions.
The current farm bill, The Agricultural Act of 2014, was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 7, 2014, and allows for continuation of key programs for specialty crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implements the many programs funded by the farm bill.
Farm bill programs of interest to the almond industry include:
- Tree Assistance Program (TAP) — Qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers who experienced losses from natural disasters that occurred on or after Oct. 1, 2011, can sign up for TAP. TAP provides financial assistance to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) — Funding to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that conserve scarce water resources, reduce erosion on fields and other conservation efforts is available through EQIP.
- National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program — Funding is available for USDA-certified organic producers and handlers for certification-related expenses they incur from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014. Payments cover up to 75% of an individual producer’s or handler’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years. Signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, it aims to ensure the US food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. The ABC has worked with industry members to craft comments on several issues of importance to the California Almond industry. They include:
- Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food
- Standard for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption
- Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals
- Designation of High-Risk Foods for Tracing
- Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals
- Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration
- Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Brown’s Drought Task Force, composed of the Governor’s Office, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Department of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board and Office of Emergency Services, publishes a “Weekly Drought Brief” that highlights current conditions, key action items from the past week, and links for more information.
Current Reservoir Conditions
Current reservoir levels in terms of capacity and percent of historical average can be found here.
Current Regional Snowpack
Check here for the most recent snowpack reports during the reporting season.
Drought: ABC Media Responses & Resources
Additional Water Resources
- California Water backgrounder
- California Department of Water Resources: Sustainable Groundwater Management
- Association of California Water Agencies
- California Farm Water Coalition
- Water Education Foundation
- Public Policy Institute of California
For specific water terms, be sure to visit the Water Glossary.
Governor Announces Statewide Mandatory Water Reductions
Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order implementing actions that will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state’s drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient. A summary of the provisions can be found here.
Curtailment of Water Right Diversions Expected Soon
State Water Resources Control Board announced on April 2 that due to continuing dry conditions and record low snowpack, it is anticipated that all holders of post-1914 and many holders of pre-1914 water rights in certain watersheds will receive curtailment notices soon as inflows due to snowmelt and possible future rainfall recede and the last opportunities to collect water to storage are past.
In the coming days, forecasts of water availability will be updated for many of the watersheds and posted on the State Water Board’s website at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/analysis/.
FDA Proposes to Amend Regulation on Registration of Food Facilities
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is issuing a proposed rule to amend and update its regulation on registration of food facilities. The proposed rule would clarify that, in determining the primary function of an establishment, the sale of food directly to consumers from an on-arm establishment includes sales by the establishment at such direct sales platforms as roadside stands, farmers’ markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Because the amended definition would exempt additional establishments from the requirement to register, the establishments would not be subject to the requirements of the FSMA preventive controls rulemakings, which apply to facilities that are required to register.
More information can be found at the FDA Constituent Updates website here.
Engaging the U.S. Government on Per Diem Charges
Undoubtedly industry is still seeking to recover from the West Coast ports slowdown and return to normal operations. Some port operations continue to experience delays and with that an increase in per diem charges. The Agricultural Transportation Coalition (AgTC) has provided guidance on how to engage the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) should shippers feel they are being charged unfairly. Specifically, the FMC’s Bureau of Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services (CADRS) is responsible for providing assistance and can be reached by emailing email@example.com. The AgTC is advising that the shipper state clearly in their email a description of the charges and why they are considered inappropriate as well as to attach all relevant documentation (e.g. invoice) or a request for assistance may face delays due to a high volume.
Furthermore, the Almond Board of California always welcomes feedback on how much Demurrage, Per Diem, Detention and Storage charges almond handlers/shippers have incurred. To provide this information in confidence, please email Philip Finiello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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