California OK's Fire Disaster Loan Guarantees, Microloans

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The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank’s (IBank) board of directors on Oct. 25 approved a new Disaster Relief Loan Guarantee Fund Program and an expanded microloan program to assist businesses affected by the wildfires in Sonoma County and other state declared disaster areas at Tuesday’s meeting in Sacramento.

Just days after the wildfires devastated areas of Sonoma County, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB) reached out to the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to seek out financial assistance for county businesses impacted by the fires, according to Al Lerma, EDB director of business development and innovation.

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A Shrunken Delta Tunnels Project? Decision Time Is Upon California

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A new option has entered the discussion of Delta water supplies: one cross-Delta tunnel instead of two.

For now, California’s WaterFix proposal, pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown, is for two tunnels under-crossing the Delta for 35 miles, allowing up to 60 percent of Delta water exports to come from the main channel of Sacramento River. Implementing such a major project requires extraordinary political and financial support that so far is lacking.

Delta water users involved in WaterFix have failed to reach consensus on the project and how it would be funded. The Westlands Water District voted against funding the WaterFixand the Santa Clara Valley Water District voted for a scaled-back project. President Donald Trump’s Interior Department offered an ambivalent statement on the project Wednesday, further adding to the confusion.

Under these conditions, the WaterFix project could shrink to become a single-tunnel state-only project supported mostly by urban water users and some Tulare basin agricultural contractors.

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Recent Outbreaks Make FDA's Draft Guidance for LM in RTE Food Timely

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Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes) is an environmental pathogen that can contaminate foods and cause a mild, non-invasive illness (listerial gastroenteritis) or a severe, invasive illness (listeriosis). Although the number of outbreaks and illnesses from this pathogen are not high compared with other pathogenic organisms, such as Salmonella, listeriosis is considered to be a significant foodborne pathogen since the illness outcome is severe and the fatality rate is high.

In light of recent notable outbreak incidents with foods such as caramel apples and ice cream, the publication of FDA’s draft guidance for L. monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods is timely. Control of the process environment is important to minimize potential cross contamination of RTE foods by this environmental pathogen. This draft guidance provides a comprehensive tool to help protect public health and reduce the incidence of listeriosis. The construct of the document is thorough and well laid-out. It is intended for the food manufacturer that is subject to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and is required to follow current good manufacturing practices for human food of part 117 (CGMP – Subpart B) and/or the requirements for the hazard analysis and risk-based Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) in 21 CFR 117 (PCHF).

The guidance identifies several examples of measures that could significantly minimize or prevent the contamination of RTE food with L. monocytogenes. This guidance is not intended for the food manufacturer of RTE food that receives a listericidal control measure applied in the final package or before packaging.

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A Perspective on EPA's Waters of the U.S. Regulation

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You have undoubtedly heard of the controversy concerning the regulatory redefinition of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It relates to the extent of the jurisdiction of federal versus state regulations relating to the Clean Water Act (CWA) implementation. It is an extremely complex and convoluted legal and policy issue. The resolution might have an impact on wastewater discharges from some of your facilities, so it might be worth at least keeping track of the legal and regulatory issues, especially if the outcome might affect your business. Certainly, hundreds of state, federal and industry lawyers, judges and their staffs have been engaged in the action. It will probably be decided ultimately by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Ag Act Advances from Judiciary Committee

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WASHINGTON -- Late on Wednesday afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee approved H.R.4092, the Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act) on a close 17-16 vote. The Committee’s action is just the first step in what will be a long and important legislative process. Federal legislation is needed to fully address the labor crisis afflicting agriculture and horticulture in America. Chairman Bob Goodlatte and the Committee have tackled this challenge by drafting a bill that revamps the H-2A guest worker program, which he considers dysfunctional and difficult for the business owners who rely on it.

"It is a costly, time-consuming, and flawed program," Goodlatte said in a statement. "They must expend a great deal of time and money each season in order to prove to the federal government what nearly everybody already knows to be the case: legal, dependable domestic farm labor is very hard to find."

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