Ag Industry Archives - West Coast Nut


Ag Industry

AB5 Changes How Agricultural Businesses Can Contract for Services from Contractors

California Governor Gavin Newsom in September signed Assembly Bill 5, or AB5, into law, which could have significant impacts on hiring, manning and staffing in California by changing the classification of certain workers from independent contractors to employees. Also referred to as the Opportunity to Work Act, according to the California State Legislature, the bill aimed to protect workers that were not otherwise eligible for minimum wage, sick leave, employment benefits, workers’ compensation and other employee protections. The bill did outline exemptions for doctors, dentists, insurance agents, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents. The initial intent of AB5 was for unions to ensure employees had the option to unionize. The original targets of the legislation were Uber, Lyft and similar rideshare services who rely on independent contractors. The authors of AB 5 wanted to eliminate the option of being independent contractors, which essentially forced companies to hire people who were...

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Telling His Farming Story Through Social Media

In 1933, Valk Ranch was established in Oakdale, California at a time well before Instagram or YouTube and definitely before smartphones. Generations later, Ryan Valk is using social media daily to not only improve his farming practices, but in his new role as an agriculture advocate. Like many of today’s new age farmers, Ryan is using social media and his phone not only to help him farm and operate his business more effectively and efficiently, but to help share his farming story. You might know Ryan better as @CaliforniaFarmer, his handle on Instagram and YouTube. You might even be a YouTube subscriber to his channel or viewer of his daily Instagram stories. Maybe you even attended a recent Blue Diamond grower meeting or Stanislaus County Farm Bureau meeting where he was sharing his success in telling his farming story. Ryan developed his Instagram and YouTube platforms as a way for...

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Insurance for Hullers and Processors Skyrockets

California’s catastrophic wildfires have claimed yet more victims, and these victims didn’t see it coming either. While not directly related, many agricultural processing facilities, including tree nut hullers and processors, have seen exorbitant increases in property and stock insurance as a result of devastating losses absorbed by insurance companies over the past two years due to horrific wildfires. Insurance companies have paid out more than $26 billion in wildfire claims in the past few years, resulting in cancelled policies, huge rate increases or, in some cases, insurance companies leaving California. Several agricultural processing facilities have seen double- or even triple-digit increases in the past year. And it doesn’t stop there. It is also important to note companies aren’t just facing huge rate increases. In some instances, they are seeing an unwillingness of insurance companies to cover the entire liability. To compensate, some companies are buying multiple policies, so called “surplus...

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Orchard Weed Expert Stresses the Screwdriver Rather than Hammer Approach to Managing Weeds

Sometimes a bigger hammer isn’t the best solution for our orchard weed management challenges,” said UC Cooperative Extension Weed Specialist Brad Hanson. “A bigger hammer doesn’t put a screw in any better than a small hammer. A screwdriver is the best tool for that job.” Hanson uses that philosophy as the principal investigator on several research projects to find new ways beyond the use of broad-spectrum post-emergent herbicides to address weed problems in the orchard. Glyphosate is very commonly used in California orchard production systems for its broad weed control spectrum. In most tree nut crops, glyphosate is applied to about twice as many acres as the next most important herbicide active ingredient. “Glyphosate is widely used because it is effective and is relatively inexpensive,” Hanson noted. Glyphosate, however, has become controversial in recent years and growers and handlers are under increasing pressure to significantly reduce glyphosate in the products...

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As Spray Season Approaches, Panelists Offer Advice for Protecting Pollinators

Pollinator protection starts with education and communication, according to panelists at a recent California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) brown bag lunch emceed by DPR Director Val Dolcini. There are literally thousands of different kinds of pollinators, including many varieties of bees, flies, butterflies, moths, birds, and even mammals such as the Mexican fruit bat, but honeybees are the keystone pollinator, and their numbers are dwindling. Several factors contribute to honeybee decline, including habitat loss, pesticides and mites but it is a problem recognized as far back as the mid-1970s. To make up for habitat loss, growers can plant new habitat in, around or near their production fields. At least 3 percent of land should be provided for bee and pollinator forage. Native plants are best whenever possible, but even if they aren’t native, planting a variety of flowering plants can also be beneficial. Aim for plants with varying bloom...

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