EPA Announces Endangered Species Act Protection Policy for New Pesticides

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking action to further the Agency’s compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when evaluating and registering new pesticide active ingredients (AIs).  Before EPA registers any new conventional AI, the Agency will evaluate the potential effects of the AI on federally threatened or endangered (listed) species, and their designated critical habitats, and initiate ESA consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services).  Prior to this action, there was a litany of resource-intensive litigation against EPA for registering new AIs prior to assessing potential effects on listed species. EPA’s new policy should reduce these types of cases against the Agency and improve the legal defensibility of new AIs, which often have lower human health and ecological risks than older pesticides.  Under this new approach, if EPA finds through its analyses that a new conventional pesticide AI is likely to adversely affect listed species or their designated critical habitats, EPA will initiate formal consultation with the Services before granting a new AI registration. As part of its analysis and under its existing authorities, EPA will consider the likelihood that the registration action may jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify their designated critical habitat and provide its findings to the Services. To determine or predict the potential effects of a pesticide on these species and habitats, EPA will use appropriate ecological assessment principles and apply what it has learned from past effects determinations and the Services’ biological opinions.  If EPA determines that jeopardy or adverse modification is likely, the Agency will only make a registration decision on the new AI after requiring registrants to implement mitigation measures that EPA determines would likely prevent jeopardy or adverse modification. If EPA finds that a new AI is likely to adversely affect listed species or their critical habitat, but that jeopardy/adverse modification is not likely, it may nonetheless require registrants to include mitigation measures on their registration and product labeling to minimize the effects of incidental take to listed species that could result from use of a pesticide.

New Hazardous Waste Environmental Fee Goes into Effect

Beginning this month, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration made changes to their 2022 hazardous waste environmental fee rates.  In doing so, they helped small operations with less than 100 employees, but severely penalized those with 500 or more employees.  Currently, organizations operating in California with 50 or more employees who are each employed more than 500 hours in California during the prior calendar year, must file and pay the environmental fee.  Starting January 1, 2022, the employee threshold will increase from 50 employees to 100 employees.  The new rates will be paid beginning with the company’s 2022 filing due on February 28, 2023.  For this year’s filing, due February 28, 2022, the rates remain in place.  Here is the new schedule as compared to the current schedule:

Number of Employees



1 to 49



50 to 74



75 to 99



100 to 249



250 to 499



500 to 999



1000 or more



According to the State, the fee is collected on behalf of the Department of Toxic Substances Control and supports protection of California’s communities and the environment.  The fees are accessed to almost organizations, because they use, generate, store, or conduct activities in the state related to hazardous materials (activities related to hazardous materials include the use of products such as paper, ink, plastics, paint, etc., which were manufactured using hazardous materials).

Cal/OSHA Updated ETS Standards

The Cal/OSHA Consultation is offering free webinars on the revisions to the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).  These revisions we updated again and became effective on January 14, 2022.  The free 2-hour webinar will cover the changes to the ETS and provide resources.  

Click on the link below to the webinar for registration or visit https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/webinars.html

Date Time   Topic Language Zoom Link
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 9:00AM - 11:00AM   COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) January 14, 2022 Update English Register for February 1
Thursday, February 3, 2022 9:00AM - 11:00AM   COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) January 14, 2022 Update English Register for February 3
Wednesday, February 9,2022 1:00PM - 3:00PM   COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) January 14, 2022 Update English Register for February 9


Urgent Advisory – Tree Nut Theft

The Association participated in the California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force Meeting in Santa Nella and learned the tree nut industry has once again experienced the theft of two loads of finished product tree nuts.  One was almonds and one was pistachios, and were destined to locations in the central U.S.  Both loads were believed to be stolen using “fictitious pickup’ though details are still coming in.  We send this as a urgent reminder to remain diligent especially at this time without outbound loads.  As a reminder, we developed the following recommended deterrent measures:

  • All pick-up appointments must be made at least 24 hours in advance, and require:
    • Pick-up #
    • Driver’s name and D/L #
    • Trucking Company Name
  • Verify paperwork upon arrival
  • Take photographs of driver, truck and trailer
  • Take photographs of license plates and VIN#
  • Take thumbprint of driver
  • Post warnings at truck entrance
  • Install high definition surveillance cameras
  • Utilize GPS tracking devices

This is a sophisticated crime.  Please be proactive and prepared.  The last time this hit, more than 40 loads of tree nuts were stolen.  The Association is already in contact with law enforcement officials.  For more details on how these thefts work, please visit the “Issues” section of the WAPA website, and be sure to adopt, implement and verify the above procedures are in place.  Should you experience any suspicious activities, please notify your county sheriff’s department and our office at (559)455-9272. 

COVID-19 Guidance Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance for Quarantine and Isolation periods in response to the ongoing Omicron cases.  This new guidance from CDC reduces the time after contracting or exposure to COVID-19.  The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has just released their updated guidance to conform with CDC, with additional requirements. Listed are the current guidance for quarantine and isolation:

  • Isolation period of infected employee after a positive COVID-19 test regardless of vaccination status, natural immunity or lack of symptoms
    • stay home for five days
    • isolation can end if no symptoms or symptoms improve after five days, and a diagnostic test on day 5 tests negative
    • if unable to test or choose not to test and symptoms are not present or resolving, isolation can end after day 10
    • continue to wear mask around others for a total of 10 days
  • Quarantine period after exposure (close contact) to someone with COVID-19, this will depend on vaccination status
    • unvaccinated employees, have not received booster, or second dose of Moderna/Pfizer more than 6 months ago or single dose of Johnson & Johnson more than 2 months ago
      • stay home for five days
      • test for COVID-19 on day 5
      • quarantine can end after day 5 if symptoms are not present and diagnostic test on day 5 is negative
      • if unable to test or choosing not to test and symptoms are not present, quarantine can end after day 10
      • continue to wear mask around others for a total of 10 days
    • vaccinated employees who have received a booster after a two dose of Moderna/Pfizer more than 6 months ago or single dose of Johnson & Johnson more than 2 months ago
      • wear mask around others for 10 days
      • get a COVID-19 test on day five
      • if symptoms develop, get a test and stay home
  • The definition of boosted or vaccinated but not yet *booster eligible
    • the individual does not need to quarantine
    • test on day 5
    • wear mask around others for 10 days

*Booster eligible definition from CDPH specifies Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech is six months after second dose; Johnson & Johnson is two months after first dose


Reminder, under the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) beginning January 14 requires employees to wear face covering and maintain six feet social distance if they are not excluded or return to work.  Currently under the ETS, an asymptomatic fully-vaccinated employees does not need to quarantine as long as they wear a face mask and social distance for given period, however, CDPH now makes a new distinction between boosted and un-boosted.  If an employee is vaccinated and booster eligible but hasn’t received the booster dose, they must stay home for 5 days.

The Association continues to monitor CDPH, Cal/OSHA, CDC and local health departments guidance and will update members on this already complicated situation.

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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.).