The coming year is poised for some significant changes to California agriculture. Several different sectors of the industry will be coming under new guidelines throughout 2018.
Beginning January 1, 2018, new regulations for the use of agricultural pesticides near public K-12 school sites and licensed daycare facilities will take effect. The new rule from the California Department of Pesticide Regulations prevents many applications within a quarter mile radius from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The mandate also requires farmers within a quarter mile to produce a notification letter by April 30 each year, listing all the pesticides they anticipate using between July 1 of the current year and June 30 of the following year. Growers will also have to provide notification if they plan to use a product not originally listed no less than 48 hours before an application can begin. Fumigants will also be prohibited from being applied within 36 hours of when a school or daycare facility is open.
Labor regulations will also experience change starting January 1. California’s minimum wage will be increasing from $10.50 per hour to $11 per hour for employers with more than 25 employees. For businesses with 25 or fewer employees, the minimum wage will increase from $10 per hour to $10.50 per hour. Farm labor contractors will also have new sexual harassment training requirements mandating that the training for each agricultural employee be conducted in the language understood by that employee. As part of their application for a license renewal, farm labor contractors will also be required to provide the Labor Commissioner with a complete list of materials and resources that were used in providing the training, along with the total number of agricultural employees trained.
Later in the year, the waiver period for the Electronic Logging Device mandate from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be expiring on March 18, 2018. Until that time, the industry is hopeful that language will be adopted to allow the rule to be rewritten and increase the delay for compliance for a full year.
Other important changes coming in 2018 relates to water. A decision from the U.S. Supreme Court pertaining to the definition of the term ‘waters of the United States’, commonly known as the WOTUS rule, is anticipated to be announced in early 2018. The ruling will determine who has jurisdiction to hear future challenges to rules established in the Clean Water Act. The State Water Resources Control Board is also expected to make a final decision regarding the preliminary Eastern San Joaquin Agricultural Order at the Board meeting on January 23. The outcome of that decision will establish a precedent to be enforced statewide.
Stay with AgNet West for the latest developments in the continuing changes to California agriculture.