APG Advocating for Members on the Political Front Lines




Rob Nash

Meet APG'S New Director of Government Relations, Rob Nash

In October, APG welcomed Rob Nash to the team as Director, Government Relations. Prior to APG, Rob worked in Sacramento in the State Senate as a policy advisor for Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa). Rob has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a J.D. and Capitol Certificate in Public Law & Policy from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Please feel free to contact Rob at RNash@AmericanPistachios.org.



Secretary Sonny Perdue visits World Ag-Expo

Sonny PerdueSonny Perdue, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, visited the World Ag-Expo in Tulare, CA, on February 13 for a town-hall-style event with local agriculture community members. Rob Nash, American Pistachio Growers Director of Government Relations, was in attendance, along with several APG members. Secretary Perdue spoke to the audience about his experience as a farmer in Georgia and covered issues facing farmers in California—regulations, funding, labor, and water. He then went into a question-and-answer session.
Sonny PerdueSecretary Perdue spoke on the Trump Administration’s efforts to cut regulations in a smart way, specifically citing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). He stated that the regulations need to increase health and safetybut in a way that is not problematic to the normal process of growing. Additionally, the Secretary highlighted the President’s call for $200 billion in direct infrastructure investment, 25 percent of which is to be used for rural agriculture. When asked, Perdue did not think that California’s sanctuary status would affect any infrastructure investment.
Following the town-hall meeting, Secretary Perdue, along with Congressmen Jim Costa (CA-16), David Valadao (CA-21), and Jeff Dunham (CA-10), toured the exhibits at the expo. Rob accompanied the group on the tour. The tour was led by APG’s own Brian Watte, who was serving in his capacity as President of the International Agri-Center Board.


New Year Brings New Promises from Government Leaders

These promises are condensed into short speeches, often interrupted by applause from supporters and silence from the opposition. In keeping with tradition, we've listened to the State of the Union from President Trump and the State of the State speeches addressing California, Arizona, and New Mexico, from their respective governors. In each of these speeches, plans were outlined on what these leaders plan on pursuing over the next year. It's important to take note of what might affect pistachios and the ag industry, including trade, infrastructure, and water just to name a few.
Of course, as policy is debated, these agendas may be amended or abandoned altogether; however, these speeches are good indicators of where the debates are heading. While the speeches covered a wide array of issues, below is a short analysis based upon issues of heightened importance to APG members.


President Trump Gives First State of the Union

President TrumpIn his first State of the Union, President Donald J. Trump stuck with his “America First” theme, highlighting the elimination of regulations and the major tax reform achieved in the final weeks of 2017.
The President expressed a desire that trading relationships with other countries be “fair and reciprocal,” and he promised to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones. Additionally, the President touched on immigration and laid out the four pillars of his plan:

  1. Path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age
  2. Fully secure the border
  3. End the visa lottery
  4. End chain migration

The State of the Union also included a call for Congress to pass legislation that would generate at least $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investment. It's promising that the President specifically cited waterways when stressing the importance of infrastructure investment.


Governor Brown Gives Last and Final State of the State

Governor BrownMaking a historic 16th and final State of the State speech, California’s Governor Edmund G. Brown centered on a theme of California playing the role of leader. He highlighted the efforts his administration has made toward curbing climate change, specifically citing the State’s cap-and-trade program, the final version of which was considered a victory by the agriculture industry.
With so many questions currently surrounding the California Water Commission and the water storage projects currently vying for funding, it was promising to hear the Governor speak of the importance of being able to capture and store rainwater overflow.
Governor Brown also doubled-down on his desire to move the California WaterFix forward, commonly known as the “twin tunnels project.” Just recently, due to lack of funding and enthusiasm for the project, the Governor proposed changing the two-tunnel project to a single tunnel and possibly adding the second at a later time.


Arizona's State of the State

Governor Ducey's last State of the State before embarking on a re-election campaign.
Arizona StateGiving his final State of the State before asking the Arizona voters to re-elect him for a second term, Governor Doug Ducey made education reform his high priority, declaring that 80 percent of new budget priorities would be for public education. Arizona can likely expect this to take up much of the Governor’s bandwidth through the year and into the election in November.
With regard to past accomplishments, Governor Ducey cited his administration’s success in eliminating “needless state regulations,” including 676 last year alone. His message to resisters: “The train is leaving the station. Get on board, or you’re going to get left behind.”
Arizona StateHe highlighted the importance of trade with Mexico, stating that the cooperative relationship Arizona has developed with the neighboring Mexican state of Sonora. With water being a growing issue in the state, the Governor warned that responsible water policies would be needed to avoid “sharing in California’s water crisis.” While no specific policies were put forward, Governor Ducey called for “responsible policies” to help avoid a future water crisis.
Ducey ended his speech with a call for unity and read the following quote from Abraham Lincoln: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”


New Mexico Governor Delivers Her Final State of the State

New MexicoWith her second term coming to an end, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez gave her final State of the State address, with a focus on crime, education, and the economy. Citing a budget surplus of over $330 million dollars, Governor Martinez hinted at the idea of returning some of that money to taxpayers, possibly providing tax cuts. She then asked the New Mexico legislature to “finally tackle comprehensive tax reform this session.”
She also praised the state for its more hands-off approach to regulation by regulating “when we needed to, not simply because we had the power to.” Finally, the Governor applauded her administration for how infrastructure investments were made, specifically citing “big water projects throughout the state.”


Grower Training Opportunities

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety rule, which requires one designated supervisor to undergo their training is now in effect. In compliance with the new rule, APG is sponsoring a Produce Safety Rule training seminar at the end of March for current APG members. The class is expected to reach capacity quickly, so register as soon as possible.
APG has also teamed with other agriculture associations and government agencies in sponsoring grower training sessions on “Heat Illness Prevention” and “Sexual Harassment Prevention.”

Congress Passes Sweeping Federal Tax Overhaul

In the final weeks of 2017, Congress passed H.R.1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Several items of note for APG members are as follows:


  • The Interest Charge – Domestic International Sales Corporation (IC-DISC) was retained. In earlier versions of the bill, the program was eliminated; however, strong lobbying efforts, including those from the agricultural community, helped to keep the IC-DISC program intact.
  • Cash method of accounting was preserved and, in fact, the universe of taxpayers and farming C corporations, who may use the cash method of accounting, was expanded.
  • Estate Tax was saved, and the “Death Tax” exemption increased to approximately $11 million per individual ($22 million per couple), and it is indexed.

Report on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and how it will affect your business interests.


APG Backs 2018 Water Bond Effort

WaterAPG has been part of an effort to place a water bond on the November 2018 ballot, which will invest nearly $9 billion in California water infrastructure. Realizing the incredible benefit this investment would mean for the agricultural community, APG contributed financially to the signature-gathering effort and has been an active participant in the Water Bond Steering Committee, which directs the activities of the bond effort. As of mid-December, it is anticipated that the requisite number of signatures to qualify for the November 2018 ballot will be gathered by the end of January, which is very promising news. The measure is being sponsored by a diverse coalition that includes conservation, agricultural, water and civic organizations, and includes funding for Friant-Kern Canal restoration and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) implementation, among other important projects. There will be subsequent updates on the bond as the process moves forward, and please don’t hesitate to contact Rob Nash with questions regarding this effort.

For specific information on what the water bond will fund, please visit www.waterbond.org, specifically the section titled “Benefits to agriculture” & the ag section at https://waterbond.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/agriculture-benefits-of...


Pistachios sackFSMA Produce Safety Rule Grower Training Opportunities

As a reminder, most farms are required to have at least one designated supervisor who has been trained in accordance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety rule.

For California training opportunities, please click here.

For Arizona training opportunities, please click here.


Pistachio TreesAll pistachio growers are reminded to turn in the 2017 Pistachio Acreage Survey.

The forms were sent out to all growers by the Administrative Committee for Pistachios (the federal Marketing Order), in order to calculate and maintain pertinent grower information along with other accurate acreage figures and information for the industry. All individual data obtained is maintained as confidential by the federal Marketing Order.

For more information, contact the Administrative Committee for Pistachios at 559-255-6480 or info@acpistachios.org.


Gail GriffinAPG Government Relations Trip to Arizona

In mid-December, Rob Nash had the opportunity to take a trip down to Phoenix, Arizona to learn about the issues facing APG’s Arizona members. With Board Member Richard Searle as legislative guide, Rob had meetings with representatives from the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation and the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association, where he got a crash course in water issues currently facing Arizona along with an overview of the current political landscape and how that might affect the agriculture community. Additionally, Rob and Richard were able to do a meet-and-greet with State Senator Gail Griffin (R-Hereford), who is the Majority Whip in the Senate and the Chair of the Natural Resources, Energy & Water Committee. The Senator’s water priorities are in line with the agriculture community, and while some of the Governor’s potential solutions may not be ideal, APG has a strong and powerful ally and advocate in Senator Griffin.


Rob NashAPG Represented at California Water Commission Presentation on Temperance Flat Reservoir Project

On December 13, the California Water Commission heard presentations from eleven water-related projects from across California that are requesting Proposition 1 (2014) Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) funding to further the projects. Along with a coalition of state legislators, county supervisors, water districts, and agriculture representatives, Rob Nash appeared before the Commission to advocate for funding to be provided to the Temperance Flat Reservoir Project. In a show of support, Rob aligned APG and its membership with both the presentation and the preceding comments. The Commission will have final decisions on funding later on in 2018.


Catharine Baker and Heath FloraPAC Updates: Events for Assembly Members Catharine Baker and Heath Flora

In December, the APG State PAC made contributions to and participated in events for California Assembly Members Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) and Heath Flora (R-Ripon). Both events were informational luncheons where APG had the opportunity to participate in Q&A’s and have one-on-one conversations with the candidates. Events such as these give APG invaluable exposure to State policy makers. In the coming months, Rob will be encouraging APG members to get involved with the PAC, both financially and with their time. The more APG can be viewed as a strong participant in the political process, the greater the opportunities for influencing that process will be.