CEC Soliciting Proposals Under Food Production Investment Program 2022 (FPIP)

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is once again soliciting proposals for its Food Production Investment Program (FPIP). The purpose of this solicitation is to accelerate the adoption of advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at California food processing plants, demonstrate their reliability and effectiveness, help California food processors work towards a low-carbon future, and benefit priority populations.  The technologies to be funded by this Grant Funding Opportunity (GFO) will help reduce energy costs, maintain product quantity and quality, and reduce GHG emissions associated with food production. The program will pay a minimum of $100,000 up to a maximum of $6,000,000 with a matching requirement of 35%.  The FPIP is open to all California food processors, as defined in Section II.A.  All projects funded under FPIP must reduce GHG emissions, further the purposes of AB 32 and SB 32, and be located in California as a food processing plant.   The FPIP will assist California food producers in achieving the following in their facilities: 

  • Modernization: Supporting adoption of commercially available, energy-efficient equipment upgrades that are “drop-in ready” replacements or additions to existing equipment or processes that provide greater GHG emission reductions than current best practices or industry-standard equipment.

This solicitation is consistent with the FPIP Guidelines (Guidelines) that the CEC adopted on May 9, 2018, and updated on July 15, 2019.  The Guidelines provide details on how the CEC will administer the FPIP and include information on program design, project selection, administrative requirements, project tracking and metrics, and reporting.  The Guidelines can be downloaded at: https://efiling.energy.ca.gov/GetDocument.aspx?tn=229188&DocumentContentId=60586

The submission deadline is January 23, 2023. 

 

Cal/OSHA Adopts COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations

The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted the COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations this past week. The COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards will continue to remain in effect while the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) reviews the proposed Non-Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations. OAL has 30 working days to complete its review. If approved by OAL, the new regulations will remain in effect for two years. 

Notable provisions include:

  • COVID workplace measures: Employers are legally obligated to provide and maintain a safe and healthy workplace for employees, including by taking measures to prevent COVID-19 exposure. Employers must maintain an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) that addresses COVID-19 as a workplace hazard and includes measures to prevent workplace transmission, employee training, and methods for responding to COVID-19 cases at the workplace. Employers may address COVID-19 workplace measures within their written IIPP or in a separate document.
  • COVID Testing: Employers must make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to employees following a close contact, except for returned cases. 
  • Ventilation: For all indoor locations regardless of size, employers must review applicable CDPH guidance and implement effective measures to prevent transmission through improved filtration and/or ventilation.
  • Close Contact DefinitionClose contact is defined by the size of the workplace:
    • For indoor spaces of 400,000 or fewer cubic feet per floor, a close contact is defined as sharing the same indoor airspace as a COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the COVID-19 case’s infectious period, as defined in the regulations, regardless of the use of face coverings. 
    • For indoor spaces of greater than 400,000 cubic feet per floor, a close contact is defined as being within six feet of the COVID-19 case for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the COVID-19 case’s infectious period, as defined in the regulations, regardless of the use of face coverings. 
    • Offices, suites, rooms, waiting areas, break or eating areas, bathrooms, or other spaces that are separated by floor-to-ceiling walls shall be considered distinct indoor spaces. 
  • Infectious Period Definition: The regulations use the definition of infectious period” found in the most recent California Department of Public Health (CDPH) State Public Health Officer Order.

Cal/OSHA is updating its resources to assist employers with understanding their obligations required by the COVID-19 Prevention Regulations.  When the new regulation becomes effective, Cal/OSHA will publish an updated set of FAQs and model program. 

Association Participates in Meeting w/ CDFA Secretary Karen Ross and Fresno State Officials

It was a very special visit today from the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross, as she toured the school farm at California State University Fresno, and then met with industry officials and the President of California State University Fresno, Dr. Saul Jimenez-Sandoval.  Association President/CEO Roger Isom joined a select group of industry representatives to discuss critical issues facing agriculture and what role the university might play.  During the lunch meeting discussion, Isom commented on the role of the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) Tree Nut Processing Laboratory and educating students and prospective employees by highlighting on some recent success stories of recent graduates impacting member operations.  Isom also highlighted the critical applied research Fresno State is conducting such as the fusarium research that Dr. Maggie Ellis is doing on cotton.  Following the discussion several Fresno State researchers made brief presentations on critical work being performed at Fresno State. 

Sites Reservoir Awarded Additional $30 Million in Federal Funds

Federal investment in Sites Reservoir was reinforced this week with an additional $30 million in funding allocated from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (passed in 2021). With the allocation of these funds, Sites has now received roughly $134 million in federal funding from the Bureau of Reclamation for construction of the Sites Reservoir Project.  “Sites Reservoir creates new resiliency for California in the face of climate change,” said Fritz Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority. “Through Sites, we are building smarter infrastructure that will provide water supplies for people, farms and the environment when it’s needed most.”

Sites will provide significant public benefits, including environmental, flood control and recreational benefits. The investment from the project’s federal partners will enhance what the project will deliver for the environment and would be additive to environmental benefits provided by the State’s Proposition 1 dollars.  Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, commented “Our investment in these projects will increase water storage capacity and lay conveyance pipeline to deliver reliable and safe drinking water and build resiliency for communities most impacted by drought.”

Sites Reservoir is an off-stream facility that does not dam a major river system and would not block fish migration or spawning. Sites captures and stores stormwater flows from the Sacramento River – after all other water rights and regulatory requirements are met – for release primarily in dry and critical years for environmental use and for California communities, farms, and businesses when it is so desperately needed. One of Sites Reservoir’s greatest strengths is in its broad statewide representation including cities, counties, water and irrigation districts throughout the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area, and Southern California. The Sites Reservoir Project is locally led by the Sites Project Authority which is made up Sacramento Valley water districts, cites and counties.

Air District Accepts and Appropriates $118 Million for FARMER Funding

Today, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Governing Board accepted and appropriated $118 million in new FARMER funding to help replace older diesel tractors and harvesters with new Tier 4 equipment.  This is the 5th year for the FARMER program, and in the first four years, the District had allocated more than $432 million to replace ag equipment.  This year’s money is a significant shot in the arm and comes just in time as the Air District’s queue of applications increased from 2,061 to 3,305 just since April!  Association President/CEO Roger Isom attended the Governing Board Meeting and testified in support of the allocation.  In doing so, Isom thanked the District staff and the Board for their support in this funding and emphasized the need for this funding to help agriculture be a part of the solution to the Valley’s air quality problems.  Isom stated “Agriculture can’t pass along the cost of new equipment like other industries, and this is exacerbated by the drought and incredibly high input costs.  The incentive programs, like FARMER have been hugely successful and we must continue them.”  In allocating the $118 million, the District will also hire additional staff to help address this growing backlog of applications. 

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Governor Signs Ag Overtime Bill

Ignoring the pleas of real farmworkers and the agricultural industry, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed AB 1066, the ag overtime legislation. This means that California will have the most stringent trigger of any state in the country for overtime for farmworkers, with 45 states having no overtime protection at all. The Governor signed this bill, supposedly to bring “equality to all workers”, yet taxi cab drivers, commercial fishermen, car salesmen, student nurses, computer programmers, and carnival workers all work without any overtime provisions whatsoever. The Governor signed this ag overtime bill in the same year that minimum wage legislation was also passed that will take California to the highest minimum wage as well as legislation forcing California to adopt additional greenhouse gas regulations for businesses in California. California is the only state in the country subject to such regulations. Today’s signing occurred despite numerous requests by the agricultural industry to meet with the Governor to discuss our concerns. The message is clear. California simply doesn’t care. These provisions will be phased in over the next few years ending with the overtime provisions to be triggered at 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.

In the Beginning As folks transitioned out of cotton and into tree nuts, the industry recognized the need to have active and effective representation at the local, state and national levels. Having enjoyed such effective representation over the years from the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, these folks yearned for the same representation in the tree nut processing industry. Issues such as air quality, food safety, labor, taxes, employee safety, and environmental concerns are at the forefront, and there is a significant need for an aggressive and dynamic Association to lead the industry into the next decade and beyond. In recognition of this, the Western Agricultural Processors Association was created in 2009. The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) shares staff and office space with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations taking advantage of a unique and opportunistic situation. WAPA is a voluntary dues organization with four shared staff and one dedicated staff person. Regulatory, legislative and legal issues fall under the purview of this new organization for the tree nut processing industry, which includes almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. From air quality permits to conditional use permits, from regulatory hearings on greenhouse gases to federal legislation on food safety, and from OSHA violations to assisting members on hazardous materials business plans, no issue is too small or too large for WAPA. WAPA has assembled one of the best and most capable staffs in the industry, and the results are already starting to show Membership The Western Agricultural Processors Association represents facilities involved in the processing of almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.Membership in the Association is classified as Regular memberships are limited to almond hullers or processors, pecan and pistachio processors, and walnut dehydrators and processors. Associate memberships are limited to any individual or business entity which is not engaged in agricultural processing, but which provides products or services directly related to the agricultural processing industry. WAPA Associate members include, but are not limited to, commodity brokers, accounting firms, and insurance brokers. Organization The Western Agricultural Processors Association is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by its membership.The Board consists of up to 15 members from throughout the state, and throughout the industry.The Board meets on a quarterly basis and conducts an Annual Meeting in the spring of each year.WAPA, in conjunction with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, conducts a special training school for its members focused on safety.In combination with the school, the Association holds a Labor Management Seminar for all of the managers. Consulting Services In researching and considering the concept of forming a new organization, the Boards of Directors for the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations instructed staff to perform some of the work on a consulting basis first. The point was to determine the workload from consulting and to determine if there was sufficient interest. In November of 2007, the Association began conducting services under consulting contracts for such services as air quality permits and safety plans.The effort has been so successful that demand has progressed outside the tree nut industry into other agricultural processing facilities, including vegetable dehydration facilities, tomato processing facilities, and wheat mills, as well as cotton gins in Arizona.It was determined by the new Board of Directors of WAPA, that WAPA would maintain the consulting services to provide offsetting income to help with the expenses of getting the new organization up and running.Today, WAPA provides for a long list of satisfied clients in the agricultural processing industry, by providing critical services such as air quality, safety, food safety, and environmental issues (Hazardous Materials Business Plan, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans, etc.).