WAPA Announces New Board Member
The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Butch Coburn, Plant Manager for Hughson Nut, to the Board of Directors. Hughson Nut is an almond processor with locations in Hughson and Livingston, California. This past month, the WAPA Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Butch to the board to bring much needed representation from the processing side to the Board of Directors. WAPA President/CEO Roger Isom commented “Butch brings a great deal of experience, especially in the area of food safety, to the Board, as our organization continues its unbelievable growth and success. He helps to maintain a balance on our board of hullers and processors, and will benefit all of our members with his expertise and willingness to jump into the issues. His knowledge and experience is a welcome addition to our board!”
CDFA Institutes New Policy on Almond Hulls
Due to a high violation rate (>60%) for the 2012 crop year, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is instituting a new “zero-tolerance” policy on all almond hull, and almond hull and shell violations effective immediately. If you have a crude fiber violation and there is no “quality assurance plan” in place to ensure that product shipped meets the definition in the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 2273.5, your inventory will be “red tagged.” The code states that all almond hull products greater than 15% crude fiber shall be labeled and sold as almond hull and shell, or as almond shell if the crude fiber is over 29%.
Click here for the official notice
Annual Meeting is on the Horizon!
As you are all aware by now, the 4th Annual Meeting of the Western Agricultural Processors Association will soon be upon us. This year’s Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday, June 20th and Friday, June 21st at the Intercontinental – The Clement Monterey Hotel located on Cannery Row in Monterey. On Thursday, June 20th WAPA will host its Annual Golf Tournament at the Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course in Carmel. On Thursday Night, the Association will host its Annual Associate Member Appreciation Reception, where we will recognize all of our Associate Members. We encourage all of our Associate members to take advantage of this once a year opportunity to meet and mingle with the members of this growing organization! On Friday, June 21st, the business session of the 4th Annual Meeting will begin promptly at 8:00 am with registration beginning at 7:30 am and running through lunch. During the Annual Meeting we are providing an opportunity limited to our Associate Members to set up booths at the event, providing maximum exposure for our Associate Members. This is a great opportunity to reach out to our membership, and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you there! For registration forms and details, please contact our office at
(559) 455-9272. Early Registration Deadline is May 24th!
ACIR Applauds Landmark AG Labor Agreement, Welcomes Senate Comprehensive Immigration Bill
As you may have heard, the Senate reached an agreement this week on comprehensive immigration reform that will also address our agricultural worker needs. The Agricultural Workforce Coalition (AWC) and Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR) were an integral part of the negotiations and released the attached statement. Click here for the ACIR press release.
Heat Illness Prevention Program Tool Kits
With the heat season fast approaching, heat stress training should come to the forefront. To aid in helping our members and clients stay in compliance, the Association has developed a Heat Illness Prevention Program Tool Kit to carry in your supervisor’s pick-ups. The kit consists of a rugged plastic folder with tabs and materials inside. This kit includes heat illness cards, safety toolbox talks, and places for your Heat Illness Prevention Policy, Emergency Numbers, and Field Maps as required by the Heat Illness Standard. The cost is $7.50 each and we recommend you purchase one kit for each vehicle used by supervisors or foreman. To aid you in your ordering effort, we have attached our Heat Illness Prevention Program Tool Kit Order Form. Just complete the form and mail back to the Association offices with a check and Shana will immediately fulfill your order. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Association office at (559) 455-9272.
FDA Announces Final Rule on Administrative Detention of Food
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a final rule amending the criteria for administrative detention to prevent potentially unsafe food from reaching the marketplace. This action makes the criteria consistent with changes to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The final rule adopts the interim final rule “Criteria Used to Order Administrative Detention of Food for Human or Animal Consumption,” published in May 2011, without change. The interim final rule amended the criteria for ordering administrative detention to permit FDA to administratively detain food it believes is adulterated or misbranded, and became effective in July 2011. Before the passage of FSMA, FDA was able to detain a food product only when it had credible evidence that a food product presented a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. Under the final rule, the FDA can detain food if it believes that the food is adulterated or misbranded. The agency can keep the products out of the marketplace for a maximum of 30 days while the agency determines whether to take further enforcement action, such as seizure.
Navigating Overtime Exemptions Applicable to Truck Drivers
The California Wage Orders contain numerous exemptions from overtime requirements. Sifting through these exemptions can be troublesome, especially when it comes to certain truck drivers. Truck drivers can be exempt from overtime under the California Wage Orders and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if they meet certain requirements.
If your drivers are in California the first step is to determine what California Wage Order is applicable. The next step is to look at whether your drivers satisfy the overtime exemptions applicable to drivers provided in most Wage Orders. To determine if the overtime exemption applies it is necessary to consider the type of truck they operate and look at whether their hours of service are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation or the California Code of Regulations. Generally, the applicability of these provisions is based upon the type and weight of truck, whether the driver crosses state lines, and the final destination of the product being transported. Where drivers are covered by these provisions it also necessary to determine if they are required to receive overtime provided by the FLSA. The FLSA exempts some employees from overtime requirements, including certain employees engaged in agriculture.
For example, the hours of service of a driver operating a truck with a gross vehicle weight rating over 28,000 pounds, who drives within California and carries products ultimately destined for a location outside of California, will be governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Under most California Wage Orders this driver will be exempt from the Wage Orders’ overtime requirements.
Counsel to Management:
Determining whether your drivers are exempt from overtime provisions is a muti-step process requiring careful analysis of the many areas where state and federal law overlap. Incorrectly finding that your drivers are exempt from overtime provisions can result in significant individual or collective actions seeking recovery of unpaid wages and substantial penalties. Contact The Saqui Law Group if you have questions about properly exempting your drivers from overtime requirements or to ensure that you are in compliance.
Funding Opportunities For Agricultural Equipment
Workshops are being held to provide information and assistance in obtaining grant funding for agricultural equipment replacement.
The SJVAPCD, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Public Utility Companies, in conjunction with the agricultural community, will be providing information and application assistance to farmers in the Valley on the following days. Click here for flyer
FDA Releases Two (2) Draft Rules under FSMA for Public Comment
FDA has released for public comment a proposed rule on Preventive Controls for Human Food and a proposed rule on Standards for Produce Safety. These are two of the rules that were proposed under 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The proposed rule “Proposed Standards for Produce Safety” covers all fruits and vegetables except those rarely consumed raw, produced for personal consumption, or destined for commercial processing that will reduce microorganisms of public health concern. The proposed rule is based on science and risk-analysis, and therefore focuses on areas of risk, including agricultural water, biological soil amendments, health and hygiene, domesticated and wild animals, equipment, tools and buildings. The proposed rule “Preventive Controls for Human Food” would apply to facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold human food. In general, with some exceptions, the new preventive control provisions would apply to facilities that are required to register with FDA under FDA’s current food facility registration regulations. A number of exemptions and modified requirements have been established. The rule proposes firms have written plans in place to identify potential hazards, put in place steps to address them, verify that the steps are working, and outline how to correct any problems that arise. The rule proposes each covered facility to prepare and implement a written food safety plan, which would include the following: hazard analysis; risk based preventive controls; monitoring procedures; corrective actions; verification; and recordkeeping. The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) is currently reviewing the draft rules and will be providing comments on behalf of the tree nut hulling and processing industry.
Solar Equipment May Now Quality for Partial Sales and Use Tax Exemption
Thinking of putting in solar for your almond or walnut huller? If so, you should be aware that the California Board of Equalization has recently ruled that solar facilities may qualify for the farm equipment and machinery partial sales and use tax exemption. Sales and leases of farm equipment and machinery, including solar power facilities, that meet certain criteria are partially exempt from California’s sales and use tax. The farm equipment and machinery partial exemption applies to the state general fund portion of the sales and use tax rate, currently 5.25 percent. Eligible persons who purchase qualifying farm equipment and machinery that is used at least 50 percent in the production and harvesting of agricultural products may claim the partial exemption. If you otherwise qualify for the farm equipment and machinery partial exemption, your solar power facilities that are tied to the local power grid but are not directly attached to qualifying farm equipment may qualify, if they are designed to generate power for such equipment and machinery. For more details, please see the BOE Announcement (click here).