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Western United Dairymen

  • House approves Homeland Security funding in 257-167 vote

    The House voted Tuesday to fund the Department of Homeland Security, ending a monthslong impasse over President Obama’s immigration policies and averting a weekend shutdown at the agency. The vote highlighted the rift in the GOP over the measure, as all of the 167 no votes came from Republicans — more than twice as many as the 75 who supported the bill. It cleared the House on a 257-167 vote only because of the unanimous support of the House's Democrats. Out of 21 House GOP committee chairmen, 12 broke with leadership and voted “no” on the clean funding bill. Nine voted “yes.” The vote allows Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to finally turn the page on an ugly chapter in his leadership that consumed the opening months of the new Republican-controlled Congress.<more>

    March 3, 2015 The Hill



  • Farmers describe impact of ‘zero’ CVP allocation

    Facing another year with no surface water deliveries, farmers who buy water from the federal Central Valley Project expressed deep frustration with the lack of water supplies, and deep concern about what another year of water shortages will mean for their crops, employees and communities.

    The CVP said last week it expects to deliver no water to most of its agricultural customers, after also allocating no water to those customers in 2014. Operators of the State Water Project, meanwhile, said Monday that it now expects to deliver 20 percent of contract amounts to its customers, up from an earlier allocation of 15 percent, citing improved runoff from winter storms. But the continued "zero" allocation from the CVP, the state's largest supplier of irrigation water, will extend suffering in rural communities, according to California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger.

    "The CVP announcement is both saddening and maddening," Wenger said. "It's saddening because the continued cutoff of water will prolong the impact of water shortages on farmers, their employees and rural communities. It's maddening because there is still a struggle to manage water wisely and flexibly in California, especially in dry years."

    Farmers who buy water from the CVP system said the continued cutoff will require them to cut production and make other difficult choices. Kings County farmer Tony Azevedo said he faces a double whammy: Two-thirds of his land is served by the CVP and one-third gets supplies from the Kings River system through storage in Pine Flat Reservoir, which currently stands at about 30 percent of historical average.

    "I'm cutting planted acres by 40 percent, which is all row-crop land," Azevedo said. "We're not growing any cantaloupes this year—the first time in more than 42 years we haven't planted that crop. And we won't grow beans. We'll grow less garlic, onions and tomatoes. We're just trying to keep our pistachio and almond trees alive."

    He said last year he couldn't get through the growing season with the zero water allocation because of well failure late in the season.

    "That's why we're farming fewer acres this year," he said. "We're not going to drill any more wells. We're going to try and get by with what we have. I bought some surface water for this year, but it cost $1,500 an acre-foot. I'll get it about July and August at the peak time for the nut crops."

    Azevedo said he has "run out of options."

    "My biggest concern is our employees and their families," he said. "We're a strong ag region and, if we can't keep farming going in this area, everything gets shut down." <more>

    March 4, 2015 Ag Alert



  • Calif.’s State Water Project boosts allocation to 20 percent

    Early-season storms will enable the State Water Project to increase its anticipated deliveries from 15 percent to 20 percent, the agency has announced.

    Abundant rainfall in early December and for a few days in mid-February enabled the state Department of Water Resources to send water to the San Luis Reservoir south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to serve customers during dry months.

    The reservoir near Los Banos, Calif., holds 627,000 acre-feet more water than it did at this time a year ago, so state water managers will be able to leave water in Lake Oroville in case the drought persists late this year and into 2016, officials explained.

    “We’re able to go up a bit … because of the storms in December and February,” DWR spokesman Ted Thomas said. “It’s kind of an important thing to note that the reason we are confident we can deliver 20 percent is we took advantage of the runoff from the two storm systems to pump water into San Luis Reservoir south of the Delta.”

    The state increase comes as many farmers who rely on federal Central Valley Project have learned they will likely get none again this year. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation must contend with a more complicated step-ladder of senior and junior water rights, whereas the state can make across-the-board allocations to its 29 water-district contractors, Thomas said.

    “They are delivering a substantial amount of water” to senior rights-holders along the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, Thomas said. “They’re not at a zero allocation for everyone.”

    In all, the DWR expects to deliver 840,000 acre-feet of the nearly 4.2 million acre-feet requested by contractors, the agency explained in a news release. A 20 percent allocation would be the second-lowest since 1991, when agricultural customers of the project got a zero allocation and municipal customers received 30 percent, according to the DWR.

    Last year the state delivered just 5 percent of requested water to contractors after allocating as much as 80 percent three years earlier. <more>

    March 3, 2015 Capital Press



  • Calif.’s State Water Project boosts allocation to 20 percent

    Early-season storms will enable the State Water Project to increase its anticipated deliveries from 15 percent to 20 percent, the agency has announced.

    Abundant rainfall in early December and for a few days in mid-February enabled the state Department of Water Resources to send water to the San Luis Reservoir south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to serve customers during dry months.

    The reservoir near Los Banos, Calif., holds 627,000 acre-feet more water than it did at this time a year ago, so state water managers will be able to leave water in Lake Oroville in case the drought persists late this year and into 2016, officials explained.

    “We’re able to go up a bit … because of the storms in December and February,” DWR spokesman Ted Thomas said. “It’s kind of an important thing to note that the reason we are confident we can deliver 20 percent is we took advantage of the runoff from the two storm systems to pump water into San Luis Reservoir south of the Delta.”

    The state increase comes as many farmers who rely on federal Central Valley Project have learned they will likely get none again this year. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation must contend with a more complicated step-ladder of senior and junior water rights, whereas the state can make across-the-board allocations to its 29 water-district contractors, Thomas said.

    “They are delivering a substantial amount of water” to senior rights-holders along the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, Thomas said. “They’re not at a zero allocation for everyone.”

    In all, the DWR expects to deliver 840,000 acre-feet of the nearly 4.2 million acre-feet requested by contractors, the agency explained in a news release. A 20 percent allocation would be the second-lowest since 1991, when agricultural customers of the project got a zero allocation and municipal customers received 30 percent, according to the DWR.

    Last year the state delivered just 5 percent of requested water to contractors after allocating as much as 80 percent three years earlier. <more>

    March 3, 2015 Capital Press



  • California Farmers Set to Receive Zero Federal Water Allocations This Year

    Reflecting the seriousness of California’s fourth consecutive year of drought, the federal Bureau of Reclamation today announced an initial 2015 water supply allocation of zero percent for most of its Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural customers.

    It’s an “unprecedented situation” that agricultural water contractors in the nation's No. 1 farm state may face a second year of receiving no water from the federal project, the Bureau of Reclamation said.

    Today’s announcement also applies to municipal and industrial contractors.

    “The CVP announcement is both saddening and maddening,” California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) president Paul Wenger said. “It’s saddening because the continued cutoff of water will prolong the impact of water shortages on farmers, their employees and rural communities. It’s maddening because California still struggles to manage water wisely and flexibly, especially in dry years.”

    Despite several significant rain events since last fall, California continues to see extended periods of dry weather. Last month marked the driest January in recorded history for northern California. With almost two months remaining in California’s rainy season, officials are hoping improved conditions materialize. That could boost CVP water supplies for agricultural users. <more>

    Feb. 27, 2015 Dairy Today




  • West Coast Ports Shutdown Averted With Five-Year Labor Deal

    West Coast dockworkers and their employers ended their nine-month standoff with a five-year contract deal, averting a shutdown of 29 ports that could have cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day.

    “This is now in the rear-view mirror,” Labor Secretary Tom Perez told reporters late Friday outside the San Francisco headquarters of the Pacific Maritime Association, which had been locked in the contract battle with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. “A significant potential headwind for this economic recovery has been removed.”

    Perez brokered a compromise on the issue of whether the union could fire arbitrators in workplace disputes, which had held up settlement on a contract after the sides agreed on other terms. Instead of a single arbitrator, a panel now will hear grievances, union President Robert McEllrath told reporters.

    The labor standoff had reduced productivity at West Coast ports by as much as half since November. California citrus fruit bound for Asia spoiled on the docks, while Mardi Gras beads destined for New Orleans instead languished on cargo ships off the Southern California coast. Carmakers flew in vital components at more than 10 times the cost of shipping them, while Japanese McDonald’s restaurants rationed french fries because of a shortage of Idaho potatoes.

    Perez had arrived in San Francisco on Feb. 17, dispatched by President Barack Obama after a federal mediator failed to bridge the gap between the two sides.

    Clear Backlog

    “This is great news for the parties involved in the negotiation and a huge relief for our economy -– particularly the countless American workers, farmers, and businesses that have been affected by the dispute and those facing even greater disruption and costs with further delays,” the Obama administration said late Friday in a prepared statement.

    Obama also called on the parties to cooperate to clear the backlogs and congestion in the ports as they work toward a final agreement, according to the statement.

    The ports agreement came as the United Steelworkers, representing 30,000 U.S. oil workers, called on four more plants in Texas and Louisiana to join its strike as talks dragged on with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which is negotiating for oil companies. The work stoppage began Feb. 1 with workers leaving nine plants from California to Texas, and expanded to two BP Plc refineries in the Midwest a week later.

    Busiest Port

    The Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest, handled 29 percent less cargo in January 2015 compared with January 2014, and volumes were down 19 percent in neighboring Long Beach, the second-busiest port, according to statements from both ports.

    The contract agreement won’t end cargo bottlenecks right away, even after port operations return to normal by Saturday night, Perez said.

    “The parties have agreed to ensure that there are fully operational ports up and down the West Coast beginning tomorrow evening,” Perez said on a conference call with reporters. “I am confident that they understand the urgency of the task of eliminating the backlog.”

    Talks had broken down this month over a union demand that it be able to fire arbitrators in workplace grievances. The two sides had reached terms over salaries, benefits, the right of union members to maintain and repair truck chassis used to haul shipping containers and health care.

    Health Care

    On Feb. 4, the management association publicized details of its contract offer, including raises of 3 percent per year for full-time dockworkers, along with maintaining fully paid health care that costs employers $35,000 per worker per year. The maximum pension would rise to $88,800 per year as part of the proposed five-year contract, the association said at the time. The union and Perez wouldn’t confirm details of the final deal Friday evening.

    The tentative settlement still needs approval from unionized dockworkers from San Diego to Bellingham, Washington.

    “After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” said maritime association President James McKenna and McEllrath, the union president, in a joint statement released late Friday. “We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”

    In their statement, the union and management declined to release details of the contract agreement until they are presented to members.

    Negotiators Hug

    Negotiators for the two sides were seen shaking hands and hugging in the the Pacific Maritime Association headquarters shortly after 6 p.m. local time, just as word of a deal leaked out.

    The West Coast ports, responsible for 43.5 percent of U.S. trade, have been operating at reduced capacity since late October as dockworkers slowed cargo movement and port employers cut shifts.

    The deal came after Perez gave the dockworkers’ union and shipping lines and terminal operators at the ports until the end of Friday to respond to a contract settlement he proposed. He said that had they not reached an agreement, he would have moved the talks to Washington next week.

    Feb. 21, 2015 Bloomberg Business



  • California Dairy Groups Announce Support For Federal Order Proposal

    Friday, February 20, 2015

    Contact: Paul Martin, WUD: (209) 527-6453

    Lynne McBride, CDC: (209) 632-0885

    Rob Vandenheuvel, MPC: (909) 628-6018

     

    California Dairy Groups Announce Support For Federal Order Proposal

    Groups Join the State’s Cooperatives in Supporting this Much-Needed Proposal

     

    CALIFORNIA – Today, the Boards of Directors for the California Dairy Campaign (CDC), Milk Producers Council (MPC) and Western United Dairymen (WUD) jointly announced their support for a proposal submitted earlier this month that would create a Federal Milk Marketing Order in California.

     

    On February 3rd, a request for a hearing was sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by California Dairies, Inc., Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes.  Specifically, these California farmer-owned cooperatives requested that USDA hold a hearing that would establish a Federal Milk Marketing Order in California.  Included with the request was a detailed proposal supported by the three cooperatives.  The request can be found at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/CAOrder.

     

    After reviewing the detailed proposal, the Boards of Directors for CDC, MPC and WUD each voted to fully support the proposal, as submitted by the three cooperatives. 

     

    Statement from California Dairy Campaign President Joe Augusto:

    “California dairy farmers have been substantially underpaid compared to dairy farmers in the federal milk marketing order system for far too many years.  The California federal milk marketing order proposal put forward by the state’s cooperatives will bring our prices in line with prices paid around the country and restore equity to dairy producer pricing in our state.”

     

    Statement from Milk Producers Council President Sybrand Vander Dussen:

    “We are excited to see this process begin and stand side-by-side with our State’s cooperatives in strongly supporting this proposal.  For far too long, California’s dairy families have struggled under a system that artificially discounts the value of the milk they produce, to the tune of more than $1.5 Billion in the past five years.  We urge USDA to schedule this hearing as soon as possible and to implement this proposal that would restore a fair price for the milk our dairies produce.” 

     

    Statement from Western United Dairymen President Tom Barcellos:

    “We are pleased this detailed project has finally come to fruition.  It confirms what we have known for a long time, pointing out the inequities in milk pricing that are detrimental to California producers.  We will follow its progress moving forward and keep our members fully informed as the process evolves. We encourage producers to stay engaged so that we can maintain the integrity of the proposal." 

     

    ###



  • Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to hold workshop, March 2

    On March 2, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board will host a public workshop to update stakeholders on the progress of the Central Valley Dairy Representative Monitoring Program (CVDRMP). The meeting will include discussions regarding the latest annual report and  future efforts that will be taken by the CVDRMP. The workshop will be held at the Fresno office (1685 “E” Street, Fresno, CA 93706) from 1:00 pm through 3:30 pm. A copy of the agenda is available at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/water_issues/dairies/public_notices/index.shtml.

    If you have any questions, please contact Doug Patteson at doug.patteson@waterboards.ca.gov or at 559-445-5577.

    Feb. 18, 2015 CVDRMP notice



  • Central Valley farmers go to Sacramento to discuss water

    Four busloads of Central Valley farmers are up in Sacramento to fight for water. The group of folks from counties across the area will be speaking to the state water resources control board. They say the board made a decision to restrict water from flowing through delta pumps to the Central Valley for the next few months, limiting an already dire situation. One farmer says they want to have the decision reversed. "Any water that could be moved this way is going to help alleviate the pain, but if the state resources control board decision holds, there will be no relief," Mario Santoyo, Exec. Director of the California Latino Water Coalition said. Several workers got the day off from the farm to voice their concerns. <more>

    Feb. 18, 2015 KSEE 24



  • Port dispute is felt all along West Coast

    The labor dispute that has stalled dozens of massive ships off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach isn't limited to the nation's busiest cargo complex. The high-volume harbors at Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., also have battled severe bottlenecks for months as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and employer group Pacific Maritime Assn. have wrangled over a new contract for 20,000 dockworkers at ports from San Diego to Bellingham, Wash. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez met with both sides Wednesday, the second straight day of direct White House involvement to break the stalemate. Backlogs at the top ports have worsened as shipping companies have periodically halted the unloading of ships, most recently over the three-day Presidents Day weekend, while accusing the union of staging a work slowdown. <more>

    Feb. 18, 2015 LA Times



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