on about the state film and television production tax credit proposal and your proposal to improve and extend it. Simple: California is losing agricultural investment to other states and foreign nations due to high state input and regulatory costs. The laws of economics do not operate differently for the agriculture industry as they do for the film and television industry. In fact, the verbatim statements made above to justify your film and television tax credit proposal are true for our state’s agriculture industry. “Our industry is hurting in so many ways right now, far more than anything the film and television industry experienced in the years leading up to California’s tax credit program to help bring it back.” The logic being inescapable, we ask that you consider a refundable tax credit for agricultural producers that can “give industry decision makers more options and the certainty they need to make long-term investments here in the Golden State,” as doing so “will translate into more production-related jobs, spending and opportunity.” California enacted legislation in 2016 to gradually reduce the threshold for overtime in agriculture field jobs from what it had long been—60 hours a week— to 40 hours a week. Despite the intent of the legislation, the economic cap on overtime hours created by this law has, in practice, significantly reduced the earnings of farm employees and undermined the productivity and competitiveness of California’s farmers. This law and many other factors have combined to cause 23.5 percent fall in net farm income since 2014. With increasing frequency and urgency, my members tell me about the farms and facilities they are buying and building in other states and especially in Mexico and several South American

countries. To a person they say they held back for as long as they could, but the economics of operating in California finally forced their hand. No one in elected office wants to see this, but without concrete action it will only increase. Fortunately, we can look to two states for a suggestion. Oregon followed California in passing a new overtime law for agriculture workers, phasing in the mandate over several years. Oregon’s legislature recognized the economic harm that would follow and established a refundable tax credit to agricultural employers to recover all or part of the wage increases attributed to overtime pay. In addition, the state provided a one- time financial aid boost to help farmers implement the new law. Similarly, New York State’s new overtime law for agriculture workers includes an overtime tax credit that allows farmers to take 118 percent of the eligible overtime pay to help offset the new mandated costs. California agriculture is nearly five times larger than Oregon and New York combined. The Democratic legislatures and governors of those states chose to openly acknowledge and mitigate the obvious wage-earning and farm-revenue consequences of their new agriculture overtime laws. California can and should do the same. California agriculture is not the state’s largest economic sector. But it is certainly the most important industry for the millions of our fellow Californians who live and work in those immense regions where agriculture is the primary driver of economic and social health. Our industry is hurting in so many ways right now, far more than anything the film and television industry experienced in the years leading up to California’s tax credit program to help bring it back. Please give this your consideration, setting aside the predictable petty political shrieks that will come in favor of sound economic policy.

WESTERN GROWERS OFFICERS – 2023 ALBERT KECK, Chair STUART WOOLF, Vice Chair NEILL CALLIS, Treasurer DON CAMERON, Executive Secretary DAVE PUGLIA, President & CEO DIRECTORS – 2023 GEORGE J. ADAM Innovative Produce, Santa Maria, California CRAIG ALAMEDA Topflavor Farms Inc, Salinas, California ALEXANDRA ALLEN Main Street Produce, Santa Maria, California CHAD AMARAL D’Arrigo Bros Co of California, Salinas, California KEVIN S. ANDREW Illume Agriculture, Bakersfield, California ROBERT K. BARKLEY Barkley Ag Enterprises LLP, Yuma, Arizona STEPHEN J. BARNARD Mission Produce, Inc., Oxnard, California BARDIN E. BENGARD Bengard Ranch, Salinas, California BRIAN BERTELSEN Cove Ranch Management, Reedley, California GEORGE BOSKOVICH III Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, California RODNEY BRAGA Braga Ranch, Soledad, California NEILL CALLIS Turlock Fruit Company, Turlock, California DON CAMERON Terranova Ranch, Inc., Helm, California EDWIN A. CAMP D. M. Camp & Sons, Bakersfield, California CAROL CHANDLER Chandler Farms LP, Selma, California LAWRENCE W. COX Lawrence Cox Ranches, Brawley, California STEPHEN F. DANNA Danna Farms, Inc., Yuba City, California THOMAS DEARDORFF II Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, California TIMOTHY ESCAMILLA Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, California DAVID L. GILL Rio Farms, King City, California ROBERT GIRAGOSIAN Kern Ridge Growers, LLC, Arvin, California BRANDON A. GRIMM Grimmway Farms, Arvin, California JOHN JACKSON Beachside Produce, LLC, Nipomo, California A. G. KAWAMURA Orange County Produce, LLC, Fullerton, California ALBERT KECK Hadley Date Gardens, Thermal, California J.P. LABRUCHERIE LaBrucherie Produce, El Centro, California STEPHEN MARTORI, JR. Martori Farms, Scottsdale, Arizona HAROLD MCCLARTY HMC Farms, Kingsburg, California TOM MULHOLLAND Mulholland Citrus, Orange Cove, California DOMINIC J. MUZZI, JR. Muzzi Family Farms, LLC, Moss Landing, California THOMAS M. NUNES The Nunes Company, Inc., Salinas, California STEPHEN F. PATRICIO Westside Produce, Firebaugh, California JOHN POWELL JR. Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella, California RON RATTO Ratto Bros. Inc., Modesto, California CRAIG A. READE Bonipak Produce, Inc., Santa Maria, California ERIC T. REITER Reiter Affiliated Companies, Oxnard, California KYLE RICHARDSON Garry Richardson Farms, Bakersfield, California JOSEPH A. RODRIGUEZ The Growers Company, Inc., Somerton, Arizona BRUCE TALBOTT Talbott’s Mountain Gold, LLP, Palisade, Colorado RYAN TALLEY Talley Farms, Arroyo Grande, California BRUCE C. TAYLOR Taylor Farms California, Salinas, California JACK VESSEY Vessey and Company Inc, Holtville, California MIKE WAY Prime Time International, Coachella, California STUART WOOLF Woolf Farming & Processing, Fresno, California ROB YRACEBURU Wonderful Orchards, Shafter, California

Yours truly, Dave Puglia President and CEO Western Growers

MAY | JUNE 2023


Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

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