State and federal courts in California have recently held that piece-rate employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all non-piece rate activities, including those to which the piece rate doesn't apply. This is true even when employees receive, on balance, at least minimum wage for all hours worked. While agricultural employers have generally adjusted their compensation systems to comply with the changing legal landscape, many employers are in jeopardy due to the retroactive application of these court-ordered rules.

Jason Resnick

As the drought continues to intensify in California and neighboring states, owners of rural and urban properties need to take steps to protect their properties and avoid fire losses.   This is especially true in California where the number of wildfires has increased to historic proportions.  In 2013, there were 9,907 wildfires recorded in California, more than any other state.  Arizona had 1,756 wildfires which represented the fifth highest number of wildfires in the country.

Greg Nelson

The Western Growers Foundation (WGF) received two checks totaling $2,549.91 for its school garden grant program as a result of events held as part of the Yuma Lettuce Days Culinary Festival celebration this past March 1-2 at the Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park in Yuma, Arizona.  (Pictured above are Terre Catanzaro of JV Smith Companies and Linda Jordan of the Yuma Visitors Bureau.)

Paula Olson

This week, The Water Agency, Inc. reported that as of April 28th, precipitation levels recorded at the 8-station index show that 28.1 inches of precipitation fell from October to April in Northern California.  The amount represents precipitation levels that are 2.5 times more than the amount of precipitation received during 1977 – one of California’s worst droughts on record.  That year south of delta Central Valley Project Ag contractors received 25% of their allocation and State Water Project Ag contractors got 40%.  Yet this year, having started with more water in the major dams than in 1977, CVP south of delta contractors received zero percent and SWP contractors will receive five percent but not until September at the earliest.  Clearly, the impact of federal Endangered Species Act regulations on pumping water from the Delta is exacerbating the current drought.

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