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
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.
The California Department of Water Resources and the California Rural Water Associationwill be holding two workshops covering drought preparedness and leak detection on June 30 inBakersfield and July 1 in Clovis.
The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board or Board) will hold a public workshop on June 24 at 9 a.m. to receive public input on drought related operations of the State Water Project (SWP), operated by the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and the Central Valley Project (CVP), operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) watershed this summer and fall. Specifically, the State Water Board will receive input regarding proposed operations of the CVP to manage temperatures on the Sacramento River for the protection of winter-run Chinook salmon, and other related operations in the Delta watershed this summer and fall. This will be an informational workshop only and no formal State Water Board action will be taken. The workshop will be held at the CalEPA Headquarters Building at 1001 I Street, Second Floor, Sacramento, CA.
County Permits Now Required for Chlorpyrifos Use in California
After July 1 all applications of chlorpyrifos in California will require specific approval from the local county ag commissioner’s office. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation announced it is designating chlorpyrifos a California Restricted Use Material as of July 1, which places more stringent requirements on its use in the state.
Almond growers planning to use chlorpyrifos in their orchard must get permits from their ag commissioner for any application in California. Each county agricultural commissioner will establish specific permit conditions within their counties to approve those applications.
Chlorpyrifos is an important compound for the control of leaffooted bugs and stink bugs in almonds, and is also used in May sprays and hullsplit sprays to control navel orangeworm. It’s also used as a rescue material for ant control and as a broad-spectrum material in dormant sprays