Members of the Western Growers Board of Directors convened this week in Orange County under the leadership of Chairman Bruce Taylor to deliberate the top issues affecting the industry. High on the list of issues discussed were the drought and regulatory restrictions on water supply, food safety, labor union activities and immigration reform.  Several standing committees featured guest speakers.  Dr. Jay Famiglietti, a senior water cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and David Orth, general manager of the Kings River Conservation District, presented to the Water Committee; Amy Wolfe, president and CEO of AgSafe, presented to the Labor Committee; and Dr. Jerry Baron, executive director of IR-4 presented to the Food Safety, Science & Technology Committee. 

Dave Puglia

It’s July 1, and as a result, Western Growers wants to remind members of two important changes that went into effect today.

There is  a new minimum wage in the state of California.  As of today, the minimum wage is now $9.00/hr. The increase is a result of legislation (AB 10) that was passed and signed by Governor Jerry Brown.  The minimum wage will again increase to $10/hr. on January 1, 2016.  A recent attempt to increase the minimum wage to $13/hr. was recently rejected by the Senate Labor Committee in the California State Assembly.

Additionally, as was previously covered in a Spotlight story, new farm labor contractor regulations put in place by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement also went into effect today. 

Jason Resnick

The California Legislature concluded a busy week as members raced to advance bills before the deadline to pass bills out of policy committees. In spite of heavy opposition from Western Growers and a large coalition of state business interests, two notable labor union-sponsored bills advanced through Senate policy committees and will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.

Matthew Allen

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