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.



Temperance Flat Project Hits Roadblock

Receives No State Prop 1 Funding

Earlier this month, the Temperance Flat Reservoir Project proponents made one last appeal directly to the California Water Commission for funding from the Proposition 1 (2014) Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP). Unfortunately, while they were able to increase their public benefit score previously awarded by Commission staff, the commissioners still found that the project provides no ecosystem benefit. Since at least 50 percent of the public benefit must come from benefits to the ecosystem, the Temperance Flat project is ineligible for any WSIP funds.

 

Water Bond Update

Water BondThe Water Bond has officially been certified for the November 2018 ballot.

With the Temperance Flat project receiving no state Proposition1 funding, passing the Water Supply and Water Quality Act of 2018 citizen’s initiative water bond has become even more vital for the welfare of the Central Valley and agricultural community.

Recognizing the importance and benefits this bond will provide to pistachio growers, the American Pistachio Growers Board of Directors voted to make a $100,000 contribution to the campaign effort for the Water Bond. Along with the contribution, APG Director of Government Relations, Rob Nash, continues to be a member of the bond’s Steering Committee, helping to guide the direction of the campaign.

For more information on the 2018 Water Bond, please visit waterbond.org.

 

Food Safety Modernization ActFSMA Update

FDA Releases Guide for FSMA

The FDA has released a Small Entity Compliance Guide for FSMA which provides clarification on compliance dates and information on extensions.

Read full announcement here.

Additional FSMA Guidances

Download full Compliance Guide

 

Legislative Ag Tours

APG Participates in Ag Tours to Educate Sacramento LAWMAKERS

As part of our ongoing commitment to be a strong presence in our state capitol, our Director of Government Relations, along with fellow members of the Agricultural Presidents’ Council, have taken several California legislators and staff members on some agricultural tours. These on-site visits give our elected officials a chance to get a little dirt on their boots all while getting a hands-on education on the ag industry and the impact that their decisions have on farmers and the industry.

 

AGRICULTURAL TOURS TO EDUCATE SACRAMENTO LAWMAKERS
The first visit was with California Legislative staff.

 

Ag Tours
Our second tour was with Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood)

 

Ag Tours
Our last stop was with Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove)

 

On March 20, 2018, APG State PAC participated in a fundraiser dinner for Assembly Member Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove). Assembly Member Cooper represents the 9thAssembly District of California, which includes the areas of South Sacramento, Galt, and Lodi. Mr. Cooper has been a good ally to the agriculture community since being elected in 2014. At the dinner, the Assemblyman talked about his desire for thoughtful, bipartisan policymaking rather than reactive legislation that has negative consequences for many, including agriculture.

 

Pistachios Hit D.C.

Pistachio Power Heads to the Capitol

APG’S, Director of Government Relations, Rob Nash, traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate on behalf of American Pistachio Growers' members. Rob’s daily agenda was packed with meetings, presentations and getting the voice of APG members heard. While in D.C., he shared the mission of APG growers with:

Capitol Visit

 

PACPistachio PAC Update

APG Hosts Pro-Ag Senator from Wyoming

American Pistachio Growers was honored to host Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) for a breakfast with our Pistachio PAC Presidents Club. Discussion covered everything from trade issues and opportunities to the economic impact that American pistachios have on the economy. A fun little tidbit about the Senator: He was once a rodeo physician.

APG California PAC Update

Jim CooperOn March 20, 2018, APG State PAC participated in a fundraiser dinner for Assembly Member Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove). Assembly Member Cooper represents the 9thAssembly District of California, which includes the areas of South Sacramento, Galt, and Lodi. Mr. Cooper has been a good ally to the agriculture community since being elected in 2014. At the dinner, the Assemblyman talked about his desire for thoughtful, bipartisan policymaking rather than reactive legislation that has negative consequences for many, including agriculture.

 

 

Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks)

 

 

Jacqui IrwinOn March 21, 2018, APG State PAC participated in an event for Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) who represents the 44thAssembly District in California, encompassing Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Camarillo, and Moorpark. As a member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Ms. Irwin is familiar with the issues facing the industry, such as water and overregulation. Drawing from her engineering background, she has a no-nonsense approach to policymaking. The legislature and agriculture industry can greatly benefit from her more fact-based reasoning.

 

 

 

China Tariff

 

 

China Tariffs

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has implemented tariffs on a targeted set of U.S. exports, which includes both raw and roasted in-shell pistachios, and shelled pistachios. The tariff adds an additional 15 percent, thus raising the Chinese tariffs on both in-shell and shelled pistachios to 20% each. For roasted in-shell pistachios, the tariff has been increased to 25 percent.

 

American Pistachio Growers Statement on the China Tariffs

American Pistachio Growers supports an end to the tariff issue between the United States and China and urges both countries to come together and work out an amicable solution that will allow trade to continue and both economies to prosper. China is an important export destination for American-grown pistachios, and the lack of resolution of this issue could hurt both American growers and Chinese consumers alike. American Pistachio Growers appreciates all the business we have with our Chinese buyers and consumers and looks forward to this continued relationship into the future.

 

Grain pic

Federal Tax Co-op Loophole Closed

When Congress overhauled the federal tax system at the end of 2017 with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, they unintentionally left a loophole in section 199A. The loophole made it so farmers could not only take the 20% deduction on the netincome of crops they sell to distributors that are classified as corporations, but also take the same deduction on grosssales to cooperative distributors.

The “grain glitch,” as the loophole has come to be referred to, was undone in the $1.3 trillion federal spending bill (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018) that was just passed by Congress. The fix repeals the special deduction for qualified cooperative dividends and repeals the exclusion of cooperative dividends from the calculation of qualified business income. It is retroactive to January 1, 2018. For a more detailed analysis of the “grain glitch” and the correction in the spending bill.

 

Temperance Flat Reservoir Project Update

Temperance FlatOn February 2, 2018, the California Water Commission (CWC) staff posted online the results of the first round of evaluations of projects competing for Proposition 1 (2014) Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) funds. Temperance Flat Reservoir Project (Temperance Flat), one of eleven projects competing for WSIP funds, received a public benefit ratio of 0.10, despite its proponents estimating the public benefit ratio to be 2.86. In order to be eligible for WSIP funds, a project needs to have a public benefit ratio of at least 1.0. The public benefit categories are: flood control, water quality, recreation, emergency response, and ecosystem.

The Temperance Flat proponents have submitted an appeal of the CWC staff’s determination, which started with a meeting between project proponents and CWC staff to address each issue the staff had. Subsequently, project proponents submitted a 20-page letter with attachments that addresses each issue that CWC staff had. The Temperance Flat project proponents are optimistic that a new public benefit ratio determination will be satisfactory to the CWC thus making the project eligible for WSIP funds.

Next Steps: The results of the appeals process will be posted online on April 20 and CWC will host a public meeting on April 25. On July 6, following one additional public meeting, final scores and application ranks will be posted.

View Water Storage Investment Programs

 

 

Save the Date

 

SGMA Assistance Workshops

Hosted by the CA Department of Water Resource

 

Mark your calendars for an interactive workshop to discuss SGMA
implementation efforts, DWR planning and technical assistance, and key
components of Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) development.

 
This workshop will feature brief presentations and
information booths on the following topics:
  • GSP Development Information -Sustainable Management Criteria
  • Assistance & engagement information
  • Guidance, data, and tools overviews
And much more!

 

RSVP Here

 

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet DWR’s Sustainable
Groundwater Management Program staff!


More details to follow.

From Field to Capitol Hill

From Field to Capitol HillAmerican Pistachio Conference attendees experienced a robust panel discussion focused on government, politics and how the American pistachio industry can impact them. Jim Zion, Chair of APG Government Policies & Partnerships Committee, started things off by giving an overview of the American Pistachio Growers government relations activities, before turning the stage over to session moderator, Rob Nash, APG Director of Government Relations. Joining the panel were APG advocates, George Soares and Bob Schramm.

Bob Schramm, the APG advocate in Washington DC, provided an in-depth analysis of the relationship between the United States and other countries as it relates to the varying trade pacts, as well as the aflatoxin and ochratoxin issue currently facing the pistachio industry in the European Union. Schramm also highlighted the recent pistachio industry victory on Iranian pistachio tariffs and stressed to the audience the importance of staying vigilant for changes within this federal policy.

An overview of the political climate in California, where it appears to be heading, and the importance of the pistachio industry staying involved in policy-making were just some of the key statements given by George Soares, APG advocate in Sacramento. Soares highlighted the efforts of the ag industry in the debate over Cap & Trade and how what was a victory for ag could have easily been devastating without the collective voices and strong lobbying efforts of the industry.

This panel discussion truly demonstrated how vital it is for American Pistachio Growers to continue staying active in government and policymaking. The decisions of our elected officials will happen with or without input from the pistachio industry, so it’s important that APG continue to develop and maintain relationships with these officials and be the collective voice for the pistachio industry to them.

California Water Bond of 2018

California Water Bond of 2018Water bond signatures have been submitted for certification. As of March 6, 2018, all the signatures gathered to put a water bond on the November 2018 ballot have been submitted for verification. These should be verified by the end of May, at which point the bond initiative will officially be qualified for the ballot.

At the American Pistachio Conference, Dr. Gerald Meral, Water Bond Campaign Director, and Jason Phillips, CEO of Friant Water Authority, gave a presentation to attendees that detailed the backstory to the water bond and an update to the status of the campaign. Both speakers stressed the importance of involvement from the Central Valley and the agriculture community.

If you missed the presentation or want more information on the 2018 Water Bond, please visit WaterBond.org.

 

Pistachios Make an Impact

9.8 MillionAPG commissions economic impact reports for the pistachio industry

According to a new economic impact study commissioned by APG, pistachio growers and processors create nearly $3.6 billion in economic output in the state of California, generating jobs and spending across multiple sectors of the state’s economy. This equates to nearly $9.8 million each day of the year and accounts for more than 22,600 jobs and nearly $1.1 billion in annual labor income.

In Arizona, researchers estimated the total economic output of pistachio farming at $31.3 million by state, 303 jobs and $13.3 million in labor income. In New Mexico the total economic output of pistachio farming on that state’s economy is estimated at almost $7.1 million by state, 89 jobs and $3.1 million in labor income.

These numbers indicate the vast impact the pistachio industry has on federal, state, and local economies, as well as the communities that foster the industry. Read the full press release.

 

APG Pistachio PAC

Senator Debbie StabenowOutreach & Activities

On February 20, 2018, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) visited the Central Valley. APG, along with other agriculture groups from the Valley, hosted a luncheon fundraiser for the Senator in Fresno, CA. APG was represented by Jim Zion, Chair of the APG Government Policies & Partnerships Committee, and Rob Nash, APG Director of Government Relations.

Senator Stabenow is the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee and was once the committee’s chair. During the luncheon, she spoke about the ongoing debate surrounding the Farm Bill and the importance of making sure specialty crops are addressed as a priority. Though it is not always the case with legislators from outside of California, with Senator Stabenow it is clear Central Valley agriculture has an ally in Washington D.C.

 

American Pistachio Growers and California Legislators Kitchen Dinner Event

Legistators Kitchen DinnerAs a member of the Agricultural Presidents' Council, American Pistachio Growers participated in the Kitchen Dinner held in Sacramento on February 20, 2018. Rob Nash, Director of Government Relations, represented APG at the dinner where 30 California State Legislators were in attendance.

The event provided a great opportunity to meet with legislators from all over the state; some from the Central Valley who are very familiar with the issues facing farmers in California, and some from the more urban parts of the state. For urban legislators, in particular, the event gave agriculture associations, including APG, the opportunity to put a face to the industry and start developing relationships with these policymakers who might not have a full understanding of agriculture in California. The dinner was merely the first step toward building these relationships, and already many of the legislators in attendance have reached out requesting ag tours in the Central Valley.

 

Grower Training Opportunities

APG has also teamed with other agriculture associations and government agencies in sponsoring grower training sessions on “Heat Illness Prevention” and “Sexual Harassment Prevention.”

 

Heat Illness Prevention Training
Heat Illness Prevention Training

Friday, April 13, 2018

Spanish – 10:00 am to 12:00 pm/English – 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

C.P.D.E.S. Portuguese Hall, 172 W. Jefferson Ave., Easton, CA 93706

No Cost to Attend | RSVP Not Required

 

More Info

 

 

Ag Associations and Organizations Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Ag Associations and Organizations Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Spanish – 10:00 am to 12:00 pm/English – 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Fresno County Farm Bureau, 1274 W. Hedges Ave., Fresno, CA 93728

Who Should Attend: Managers, Supervisors and Foremen

RSVP REQUIRED: Call (559) 251-8468 or email clehn@niseifarmersleague.com

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:

Tax

  • 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.

Sunset Review

For Immediate Release

U.S. International Trade Commission Renders Affirmative Determination in Five-Year (Sunset) Review of Antidumping Duty Order Against U.S. Imports of Raw In-Shell Pistachios from Iran

FRESNO, Calif., June 2, 2017–The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) determined today, by a unanimous vote of 5 to 0, that revoking the U.S. antidumping duty order on imports of raw in-shell pistachios from Iran would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury to the U.S. pistachio industry within a reasonably foreseeable time. Therefore, the U.S. antidumping duty order on imports of raw in-shell pistachios from Iran will therefore remain in place.

The antidumping duty order was first imposed by the United States in 1986 as the result of a successful petition filed by U.S. pistachio growers and processors. The order, which imposes special import duties of 241.14 percent on U.S. imports of Iranian pistachios, has been instrumental in allowing the U.S. industry to thrive since that time.

Dumping is the practice of selling goods in export markets for prices that are lower than in the producer's home market or below the cost of production. International law provides for antidumping duties to remedy such behavior when it threatens or causes material injury to producers in the export market. Orders imposing such duties must be reviewed periodically to determine whether they continue to be justified.

Generally, such "sunset" reviews are conducted every five years, but under U.S. law, the time during which imports are prohibited by a trade embargo are not counted. This was the second "sunset" review of the pistachio order against Iran since 1986.

The reasoning behind today's decision will not be known until June 25, when the USITC will release its full report.

American Pistachio Growers is pleased the Commissioners vote continues to maintain the existing tariffs on imported product. American Pistachio Growers Executive Director Richard Matoian stated, “We are pleased with this decision. We believe we had provided the necessary evidence the American pistachio industry would be harmed by imported products from Iran, and today the Commission, with its vote, has agreed with our position.”

US ITC LogoSunset Review Questionnaire

APG previously announced that the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) was planning to mail its Sunset Review questionnaire to a number of pistachio growers and handlers. They have informed us that these questionnaires were sent out. If you have received the questionnaire, APG strongly urges you to respond. We know that this is neither an easy questionnaire nor one that you can quickly fill out, but in order to defend our industry, it requires your attention.

For assistance, the USITC has provided a name and contact information in the questionnaire —they are there to help you answer difficult questions. If you are not satisfied with the USITC staff person’s response then we urge you to contact either Lorren Walker (202-266-3999) or Bob Schramm (202-266-3900), at Schramm, Williams & Associates.

Return your completed questionnaire to the USITC, and also be sure to forward a copy to pistachios@adduci.com. Adduci is APG’s legal trade firm, representing our members on this issue. They will keep your information confidential.

Antidumping Raw Inshell Sunset Review

APG is preparing for the sunset review of the antidumping order on raw inshell pistachios. The next event will be responding to U.S. International Trade Commission questionnaires which will be sent by USITC to U.S. growers and processors, U.S. pistachio importers, and Iranian exporters and processors in early 2017. Responding to the questionnaires is not difficult once the instructions are carefully read through. APG will make support available to members for answering the questionnaires. It is important that the U.S. industry have at least 50 percent of growers and all the processors respond to the questionnaire. Following the completion of the questionnaire phase, the USITC will release the staff report, followed by preheating briefs. Sometime in April 2017 there will be a preheating conference, followed by the USITC hearing. This is the first pistachio sunset review since 2005 because President Obama imposed import sanctions on Iranian imports including pistachios; the law prohibits a review if there is an embargo. How President-elect Trump will administer the so-called Iran nuclear agreement is yet to be determined. During his campaign, Trump stated he would “…rip it up.” In addition, in November, shortly after Congress returned following the elections, the U.S. House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming majority of 419 to 1 for a 10-year reauthorization of the Iran Sanctions Act. Neither the Iran nuclear agreement nor the Iran Sanctions Act involves sunset reviews although there is pressure to re-impose an embargo if Iran violates the nuclear agreement.


California New Minimum Wage Requirements

On January 1, 2017, new minimum wage requirements went into effect in California, which increased the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour. It’s important to note that the minimum wage increase is based upon the number of employees employed. As a result, many small businesses will not be required to increase the minimum wage for 2017.

To learn more, read the memo from the CA Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the DIR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s), especially as it relates to the determination of employment size. For more information on the CA minimum wage, visit the DIR website at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_minimumwage.htm.


Taxes

President-Elect Donald Trump Tax Reform

If the 115th Congress, which starts January 3, 2017, seriously considers tax reform, it will have not only President-elect Trump’s tax reform legislation to debate but more importantly, Speaker Paul Ryan’s tax reform legislation. Tax reform legislation has been considered by Congress for the last several years but the Obama Administration did not provide any sincere interest in the tax proposals. Now for the first time, both the Congress and the new administration will seriously debate a tax reform bill starting in 2017. Trump’s campaign tax propoal did not have any direct agricultural provisions, but he has proposed repealing the estate tax. Since farming is a capital intensive investment, his estate tax repeal proposal is expected to receive support from members of congress with a large number of farming constituents.


Food Safety – FSMA

Food Safety Modernization Act Implementation

For those food facility businesses that are considered large by FDA (over 500 employees), compliance with the FSMA Preventive Controls rule (handler rule) has been in effect since September 19th, 2016. FDA extended compliance dates for some provisions within the Preventive Controls (handler responsibilities) and Produce Safety rules (grower responsibilities), such as facilities solely engaged in packing and/or holding activities conducted on raw agricultural commodities (RACs) that are produce and/or nut hulls and shells and for certain facilities that would qualify as secondary activity farms except for the ownership of the facility. FDA recently published draft guidance (165 pages) for industry relating to Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls. FDA is requesting comment on this draft document. Compliance with the Produce Safety rule for farms with more than $500,000 in average annual produce sales will begin in January 2018. For small farms with more than $250,000 in average annual produce sales but less than $500,000 in average annual produce sales, compliance will begin in January 2019. For very small farms with more than $25,000 in average annual produce sales but less than $250,000 in average annual produce sales, dcompliance will begin in January 2020.


Trade

Trans-Pacific Partnership

With the election of President-elect Donald Trump, hopes for considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the final days of the Obama Administration have all but vanished. The day following the election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that TPP would not be brought before the Senate during the Lame Duck session. During the campaign, and recently candidate Trump repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with the agreement and promised to “rip up” the current negotiated text.

While problematic for industries, TPP is generally thought to be a good agreement for agriculture interests. For pistachios specifically, the agreement eliminates the high tariff on pistachios to Vietnam. The agreement is also backed by 72 percent of Vietnamese businesses.

While the status of the agreement is extremely uncertain, some TPP members have stated that they will pursue agreements with TPP members separately and entertain direct free trade agreement talks with China if the United States fails to approve the agreement.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The United States and the European Commission concluded their 15th negotiation session of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) in early October 2016 in New York City. While concern for pistachios consists of tariff elimination and aflatoxin testing, little progress was made toward finalizing the agreement generally. Great divides have been expressed regarding Europe’s insistence on the use and expansion of Geographical Indications (GIs), tariff cuts to trade sensitive items, market access concerns, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures. (GIs identify agricultural product or foodstuff as originating in the territory of a Party, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.)

While the commitment from U.S. trade negotiators is full tariff elimination for all agriculture products, Europe has not made the same level of commitment. With U.S. elections concluded, Obama Administration negotiators are tasked to complete as much of the agreement as possible before the new U.S. President is inaugurated. It is expected that most of 2017 will be lost in terms of finalizing T-TIP negotiations due to national elections occurring in both France and Germany.

Brexit - Its Effects on Trade and Agriculture

Brexit, the initiative of the British people to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union, recently hit a road block. A British court has determined that the June 2016 public referendum vote to remove the UK from European Union membership satisfies British law to move forward. The court ruled that Parliament must vote in favor of removing the country from the agreement for Brexit to be actionable. With the majority of Parliament against the exit, a timeline for Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, to initiate exit proceedings is uncertain. Additionally, the government has appealed the ruling to a higher court.

Provided Brexit moves forward, exit negotiations will be extremely complex. The UK and the rest of the global community must determine how to handle its relationship with regard to World Trade Organization strictures and other matters. Over the last five years, U.S. exports of pistachios to the UK have averaged $13 million, which is approximately four percent of all exports to Europe.