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2017/18 Annual Message

President's Message

Tuesday, April 24th 2018

CFFA President,

Welcome to the California Fresh Fruit Association’s website. We hope you find the information here valuable and we encourage you to contact us with any suggestions or questions.

Ladies and gentleman, the role of your Association remains just as important today, as it was 82 years ago: To serve as the primary public policy advocate for fresh fruit growers and shippers in California. Each day, our industry is bombarded with challenges from the State and Federal Government, regulatory agencies, the retail sector and labor unions. When I took over the Association a year and a half ago, many members expressed that they were “tired of losing.”  As a result, over the last eighteen months our Association has focused on major water and labor initiatives that will position our industry for sustained success.As I became President of this Association in August of 2016, we were hit hard by the passage of AB 1066, the Ag Overtime Bill. This bill, and the minimum wage increase sent shockwaves through our industry.  Once again, we were rolled by misguided legislators and the UFW, a feckless union that represents less than one percent of California farmworkers.  Absent from the debate was concern for the rest of the farmworker community, the 99% who went unheard.  Learning from this travesty, we worked closely with an insightful and innovative industry member, Joe Garcia of Jaguar Farm Labor Contracting, to give a voice to this community, so they will no longer be ignored. Joe took the critical steps to build, from the ground up, a foundation that supports our employees in areas like: Health care, English language learning, citizenship training and immigration services. Joe’s idea is now a reality. The Central Valley Farmworker Foundation now operates out of Kern County with a staff of four. Their services address farmworker needs, creating trust and strong relationships by delivering services and building good will within the farmworker community. Their goal is to help farm employees become leaders and empower them to be their own advocates in their communities, in Sacramento and in Washington, DC.  This Association helped the Central Valley Farmworker Foundation get off the ground and proudly stands by their side to assist them, wherever possible, in their goal of becoming a statewide farmworker foundation, and the true voice for the California farmworker.In Washington, we continue our effort for immigration reforms that will end illegal immigration without creating a real disaster for American farmers.  After years of inaction, most recently displayed in the unproductive debate over DACA and the misguided Goodlatte Bill, it has become clear that we need help from the President to get immigration reform right.   For fifty years, like a broken record, the agriculture industry continues to rely on a Legislative fix, when history is on the side of the Executive branch for effective foreign worker programs.  That is why it is imperative to lead and continue building support, in Congress and Agriculture, for the Ag Labor Agreement, a strategy of Executive action combined with Legislation to resolve immigration without disrupting the supply of skilled labor we need to harvest our crops.  With the Ag Labor Agreement, we go to Washington, not with our hand out, but with a plan to end illegal immigration once and for all, while protecting our nations’ domestic food supply.In early 2017, we contacted Dr. Jerry Meral, Governor Brown’s key water policy advisor since his first administration, to collaborate on a water bond for the 2018 ballot. Over the next year, Association staff created and helped manage an unusual coalition of agriculture, water and environmental interests to craft the bond proposal. Unlike Proposition 1 in 2014, which was a creature of the California Legislature and Governor, The Water Supply and Water Quality Act of 2018 is a citizen’s initiative, written by the agriculture industry and exempt from the authority and bureaucracy of the California Water Commission.  We overcame initial doubts by raising more than two million dollars, and over 500,000 signatures, to qualify the bond for the ballot, and now look forward securing passage in November.   This bond will invest $8.8 billion dollars in California’s water infrastructure, including key categories like: $750 million for safe drinking water, $660 million to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, funding for watershed restoration, fish and wildlife habitat, and $750 million to the Friant Water Authority for conveyance and the restoration of the Friant-Kern Canal.  Conveyance projects could include a new cross valley canal, which would enable the storage of excess delta flows in the Temperance Flat Reservoir and thereby increasing the financial feasibility and the effective yield of the proposed reservoir from 160,000 acre feet to 500,000 acre feet.I would like to thank each of you for the support that you continue to give to the California Fresh Fruit Association. It is your support and involvement that makes our Association successful.I’d also like to give a special thanks to Harold McClarty for his leadership as Chairman over the last two years. Harold, your passion and vision for our industry is undeniable. You’ve lead our organization with purpose and dignity. Thanks should also be given to the members of our Executive Committee. Your time and dedication to the effectiveness of our Association is greatly appreciated. To our Association Staff: Marcy Martin, Chris Valadez, Ian LeMay, Kayla Cardoza, Allyson Calderon, Erin Ragnetti and Vicky Jones, thank you for your daily contributions to the advancement of our Association and the fresh fruit industry of California. Thanks to all.

Thank you for visiting our site and we sincerely hope that you will visit again soon.