July 27, 2017

Immigration Reform, Water Infrastructure and Drinking Water Issues in Focus for WG Board of Directors During Orange County Meeting

The Western Growers July 2017 Board of Directors Meeting concluded today. From July 25 to 27, WG Board Members gathered in Orange County to guide WG’s actions on state and federal legislative and regulatory priorities impacting Western Growers members, as well as provide feedback on important initiatives being undertaken by the association. Among the issues discussed:

Arizona Ag Support: WG lobbied hard for passage and gubernatorial approval of HB 2253, which appropriates $150,000 to the Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Plant Services Division to supplement a loss of federal grant funding (click here for more details).

Environmental: AB 398, which extends the California Air Resources Board’s cap-and-trade authority though 2030 (click here for details).

International Trade: Specialty crop priorities for NAFTA renegotiations, which will start mid-August.

Immigration and Labor: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s draft agricultural labor bill, which would create an H-2C guest worker program. While there are some favorable components, problematic provisions include a touchback requirement for existing workers and their families and a 500,000 per year visa cap (although the cap would not include former H2-A workers). The Goodlatte bill is significant, however, in that it drives the immigration reform conversation forward.

The California 7th Day of Work requirement was also addressed, which was more clearly defined by a recent California Supreme Court decision, Mendoza v. Nordstrom (click here for details).

Science & Technology: The latest activities of the Center for Produce Safety, including the recent research symposium in Denver, Colorado, and the submission of formal water testing recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration.

The status of, and future plans for, the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology were also covered, including an expansion of programming and the establishment of a formal system to field test and vet technology offerings coming out of the Center.

Tax Reform: Agricultural priorities in the upcoming tax reform negotiations (click here for more details), including the need to retain key provisions utilized by farmers, such as 1031 exchanges, stepped-up basis and interest deductibility.

Federal Water Legislation: Ongoing efforts to include water infrastructure as part of the broader attempt to move an infrastructure package through Congress.

Nitrate and Other Contaminants in Drinking Water: WG has been immersed in negotiations around drinking water contamination challenges and state enforcement actions. WG Directors and staff also discussed the impending “go/no-go decisions” by ag and urban water agencies to commit funding for the California Water Fix (Delta tunnels). Additional water issues discussed included the current status of the Colorado River and the possibility of one or more new water bonds on the 2018 ballot.

Separately, the WG Political Action Committee Board met and heard a presentation from Ruben Barrales of GROW Elect (click her for more details).

For questions, contact Cory Lunde at (949) 885-2264.