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Hand Washing: Sanitation That Saves Lives

AnnMargaret Dwyer
Originally Published in Food Safety

We can all agree that handwashing is important. We know that washing your hands prevents you from getting sick, helps prevent the spread of germs, and helps keep our food safe. But time and time again we see people choose to not wash their hands, knowing full well they should be. Why does this happen? It is important to understand why people do not wash their hands, that way more effective techniques can be created to enhance your facility’s handwashing culture.

The Psychology of Not Washing Your Hands

Many people do not wash their hands after they go to the bathroom. But why? Pol Rodellar from VICE chose to ask people why exactly they don’t partake in this sanitary process in the article “People Explain Why They Don’t Wash Their Hands After Peeing”. A few responses to note were:

“People just wash their hands because that’s what they see in films. I sometimes do it in front of people who I saw just washed their hands-I suppose it’s out of respect for others. I guess I don’t do it for myself, but for them.”

Sara, 26

“It’s a fact that washing our hands is just something we do to fit into society. This morning, while I was using the urinal, a colleague who had just finished peeing started thoroughly washing his own hands. So when I finished, I had to do the same so that guy- who continued to wash and dry them as if he had just come out of a mine – didn’t think I was some filthy urchin. So here’s to wasting water and soap and a disposable paper towel just because I can’t be bothered to explain my toilet habits to my colleagues.”

Jordi, 30

“I normally wash my hands before I pee because they’re always dirty due to my job. I only wash my hands afterwards if I splash myself. And to be honest, I’ve stopped worrying about contracting things down there.”

Martin, 28

“I don’t have time to be constantly washing myself. I actually think we all clean ourselves too much – it can’t be good for our skin. Our society is too sterilized and it’s not natural.”

Lucia, 22

But Why?

In a study conducted by scientist Thomas Berry and his colleagues on a university campus, Berry wanted to analyze whether or not gender played a role in handwashing behaviors in the bathroom. The team observed 170 subjects in a public restroom and found that the action of hand washing and for how long were based on the activities the subjects conducted in the restroom. In the study, 91% of women washed their hands. This was attributed to all the women using a cubicle to go to the bathroom. When looking at the men, 87.5% of men washed their hands when using the cubicle but only 59.4% washed their hands when using the urinal. The conclusion was that to the subjects, going to the bathroom in the cubicle warranted more hand washing.

In addition to whether each subject washed their hands, those that did were timed. An important note is that the median time for handwashing showed both men and women washing their hands for less than ten seconds. This is troublesome since the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggested time for handwashing is 20 seconds. This study shows that if your staff is more likely to use a urinal when going to the bathroom, a greater emphasis on handwashing procedures must be put in place to protect food from being contaminated.

When to Wash Your Hands

The more someone washes their hands, the less likely they are to spread germs and disease. In a manufacturing facility all employees should wash their hands before or after the following:

  • Before beginning work
  • Before preparing food
  • Before handling an injury such as a cut
  • After using the bathroom
  • After sneezing or coughing
  • After touching your hair or face
  • After taking out the trash
  • After using cleaning materials
  • Before changing jobs handling raw and ready to eat food

How to Wash Your Hands

As directed by the Center for Disease Control(CDC):

“Follow these five steps every time.

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them”.

The Science Behind Handwashing

Not washing your hands after going to the bathroom is a leading cause of the spread of infections and diseases. Feces is a common source of Salmonella, E.coli 0157, and norovirus, and can also cause certain respiratory infections. “A single gram of human feces—which is about the weight of a paper clip—can contain one trillion germs”. For this reason, in your facility, it is important to ensure that handwashing practices always remain front of mind by having handwashing diagrams with instructions at every hand washing station.

In addition to germs being spread because hands are not washed after using the bathroom, germs can also spread is animal feces inadvertently on raw meat. Cross-contamination and poor sanitation practices can cause these invisible germs to spread.

The Impact Hand Washing Can Have

“Teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy. Handwashing education in the community:

Reduces the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%

Reduces diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%

Reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%

Reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57%

It is not easy to establish a handwashing program that works. To do so you need an engaged staff who feels a sense of ownership for your company’s food safety culture and understands that they are a determining factor in whether your company produces safe food. Hand washing training and seminars need to be part of your “always-on” food safety program because ultimately your entire staff affects your end product and the bottom-line.

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California League of Food Producers (CLFP) Annual Meeting April 30

News Release

California League of Food Producers

For more information:  Lisa Jager, 916-640-8150,

CLFP Annual Meeting April 30

The California League of Food Producers (CLFP) will hold its 2020 Annual Board of Directors Meeting on April 30 via webinar. The meeting will be presided over by outgoing 2019-20 chair Ross Siragusa, The Kraft Heinz Company. Michael Mariani, Mariani Packing Company, Inc., is expected to be elected and welcomed as the 20-21 chair.

Siragusa is Head of Agriculture & Seed for Kraft Heinz and works out of its Stockton, CA, office. Mariani is a Partner with Mariani Packing, which is based in Vacaville, CA.

Members will hear legislative and regulatory updates from CLFP’s Government Affairs Directors Trudi Hughes and John Larrea, as well as information on how the coronavirus is affecting California’s food
processing industry.

CLFP is an association representing the interests of both large and small food and beverage processors throughout the state. CLFP works to help ensure a favorable and profitable business environment for its members and the food processing industry. The association also has affiliate members that provide a wide variety of products and services to the industry

The Food Processing Expo is produced each February by CLFP, and is the largest event of its kind in California. The 2021 Expo will be held February 9-10 at the Sacramento Convention Center.

For more information, visit CLFP at and the Expo site at

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Food Labeling Requirements for Manufacturers and Updated Compliance Dates

By Michael Shabaka, Ph.D., Manex Director of Sales and Innovation Excellence

On May 27, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published the final rule amending food label requirements.

The final rule amends the labeling regulations for conventional foods and dietary supplements to provide updated nutrition information on the label to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices with a compliance date of July 26, 2018 for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales, and July 26, 2019 for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales.

The FDA recently extended these dates to January 2020 and January 2021 respectively. The FDA has created a Small Industry Compliance Guide to help companies better understand who needs to be compliant and how to become compliant. The FDA does not intend for the document to serve as legal advice and refers to this document as recommendations for compliance. Upon review of the 38-page document, it notes that all food, including supplements and infant foods must be compliant with the new labeling requirements, but there are some exceptions.

Under 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 101.9(j), product exceptions to the new label requirements generally include:

  1. foods offered for sale by a retailer who has annual gross sales made or business done in sales to consumers that is not more than $500,000;
  2. foods offered for sale by a retailer who has annual gross sales made or business done in sales of food to consumers of not more than $50,000;
  3. medical foods; and
  4. foods that contain insignificant amounts of all nutrients (e.g., coffee beans, tea leaves).

If your small business does not manufacture foods that fall within these four exceptions, then you must be fully compliant with the new rules by January 2021.Compliance with the new labeling requirements can be confusing. For example, section V titled: “Which Nutrients Must Newly be Declared, and What Changes Have Been Made to Nutrients Previously Required or Allowed to be Declared?” provides an example of how to address added sugars and what is considered added sugar.

The guideline states that added sugars are defined as sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type, (21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(iii)). This definition includes single-ingredient foods, such as individually packaged table sugar (see Section V.A.1.(a).(i) and Ref. 1). But there appears to be another twist that can make the new rules confusing and why I believe the FDA is giving smaller manufacturers more time to comply.

For example, the following do not fall under the definition of added sugars. Sugars in fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent juices that are sold to consumers (e.g., frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) (21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(iii)).  Sugars in fruit juice concentrates that are used to formulate the fruit component of jellies, jams, or preserves in accordance with the standards of identities set forth in 21 CFR 150.140 and 150.160 (21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(iii)). Sugars in the fruit component of fruit spreads (21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(iii)).  Sugar alcohols and Sugars in juice concentrates that are counted towards percentage juice label declaration under 21 CFR 101.30 for 100 percent juice or 21 CFR 102.33 for juice beverages (21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(iii)). Sugars in juice concentrates that are used to standardize the Brix values of a single species juice consisting of juice directly expressed from a fruit or vegetable in accordance with 21 CFR 102.33(g)(2) (21 CFR 101.9(c)(6)(iii)). Naturally-occurring sugars found in milk and dairy ingredients, except lactose as defined in 21 CFR 168.122.

The food labeling laws can be a daunting task, especially if there are product changes or reformulations. The additional year that the FDA has provided to ensure manufacturers are compliant can help businesses become fully compliant with the new food label requirements. Does your business understand the new label rules, and will your business be fully compliant with the new food label requirements on January 1, 2021?

About the Author

Michael Shabaka, Ph.D., is the Director of Sales and Innovation Excellence for Manex. He has over 20 years of business development, sales and marketing experience, spanning several industries including biotech, high tech, publishing, environmental lab services, and the non-profit sector. Dr. Shabaka holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior with a concentration in Transformative Learning and Change from the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. He also holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing and Finance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from Holy Names College, Oakland. He can be reached at

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The New “Business as Usual” with COVID-19

Written by Tara Sweeney

Food & Facilities Episode on The New “Business as Usual” with COVID-19

The COVID-19 virus is forcing businesses in critical industries, like food processing and manufacturing, to make many changes very quickly. Closures and new operating procedures are popping up throughout all of commerce, and new information is constantly emerging. Updated versions of this article will be available through our website. This article contains current COVID-19 information that will help you and your company adapt to this shifting business landscape. To help you adapt to the temporary, new normal created by the COVID-19 outbreak, this article contains the following: 

  • WHO Symptoms for COVID-19
  • If You Contract COVID-19
  • Facts About COVID-19 that the CDC is Emphasizing
  • FEMA Factchecks
  • How COVID-19 Could Affect Workplaces
  • Jobs and Exposure Risk
  • Federal Critical Infrastructure Sectors
    • Manufacturing
    • Food & Agriculture
  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) 
  • Assistance for Small Businesses During the Outbreak

The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person through close contact (within 6 feet) and respiratory droplets from an infected person through coughing or sneezing. The first US case was reported on January 21, 2020.

WHO Symptoms for COVID-19

It is essential to understand that the COVID-19 virus affects different people in different ways.  It is a respiratory disease and most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without requiring special treatment.  However, people who have underlying medical conditions and those over 60 years old have a higher risk of developing severe disease and death. The WHO has outlined what the typical symptoms are, along with additional, less common symptoms.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • dry cough

Other Symptoms Include:

  • shortness of breath
  • aches and pains
  • sore throat
  • and very few people will report diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.

Lowering your chances of contracting Covid-19 is simple: avoiding contact with persons who are sick; avoiding touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth); washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. However, the CDC has outlined steps to take if you do contract COVID-19 despite taking precautions.

If you contract COVID-19:

  1. People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.
  2. People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing should call their doctor and seek medical attention.
  3. Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  4. Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  5. Avoid sharing personal household items.
  6. Wear a face mask.
  7. Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow.
  8. Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds.
  9. Clean all “high-touch” surfaces (phones, doorknobs, steering wheels, etc.) daily.
  10. Monitor your symptoms.

With these precautions if you contract COVID-19, it is also important to recognize misinformation taking footholds during the uncertainty of this crisis. Both the CDC and FEMA have responded to some of the most common misconceptions that have been circulating.

Facts About COVID-19 that the CDC is Emphasizing:

  1. Diseases can make anyone sick, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
  2. Some people are at increased risk of getting COVID-19. (Above 60 years of age and those with pre-existing conditions.)
  3. Someone who has completed quarantine or who has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people.
  4. You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms.
  5. Using protective precautions to keep yourself and others safe is simple.

Visit the CDC website for the latest information:

Where the CDC is emphasizing information directly related to the disease outbreak, FEMA has had to rebut disease tangential misinformation. It is important to check your primary information sources credibility and to not assume secondary information sources are factual. During times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to verify the source of the information.

FEMA Factchecks

  1. Hantavirus is not a new disease. Transmission from one human to another may occur, but is extremely rare. It is primarily contracted through touching waste products of infected rodents. Visit for more information.
  2. There is no national lockdown. It is being determined at the state and local levels. The fifteen day shelter in place suggestion is to minimize exposure and prevent the continued spread of the disease. The latest information and resources are available at
  3. FEMA does not have military assets. Like all emergencies, response is most successful when it is locally executed, state managed and federally supported.  Each state’s governor is responsible for response activities in their state, to include establishing curfews, deploying the National Guard if needed and any other restrictions or safety measures they deem necessary for the health and welfare of their citizens.
  4. Stockpiling groceries and supplies is not suggested. Food supplies are likely to spoil and you want to minimize chances of contact. Demand is high for grocery, household cleaning, and some healthcare products–stores need time to restock.
  5. The U.S. Government is not mailing checks in response to COVID-19 at this time. If you’re contacted about such a check, at the moment, it’s a scam. Keep an eye on the FTC website for more information about this and other common COVID-19 related scams. 
    1. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has passed both the house and Senate and been signed by President Trump on March 27th. Both  CNN and Fortune Magazine report that it could take five to six weeks for the federal government to cut checks and send them out. The $2 trillion package includes a provision to send checks directly to many Americans. The amount is based on annual income: individuals earning up to $75,000 and heads of household up to $112,500 will receive a $1,200 rebate from the federal government. Whereas, couples who earn up to $150,000 will receive $2,400. Above those income levels, the benefits are gradually reduced by $5 for every additional $100 income. This will be capped at $99,000 for individuals, $146,500 for heads of household, and $198,000 for couples. Parents are eligible for a $500 rebate per child.

With these foundational facts on the disease and clearing up tangential misinformation, it is also  imperative to take precautions in the workplace to prevent spreading the virus. OSHA has issued guidelines on how to prepare workplaces for COVID-19. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as considerations for doing so. Aside from safety compliance, the outbreak has affected which industries are still running and can affect the operations of those that are.

How COVID-19 Could Affect Workplaces

  • Absenteeism. Workers could be absent for many reasons: they are sick;  they are caregivers for sick family members; they are caregivers for children if schools or daycare centers are closed;  they have family members to at-risk people at home, such as immunocompromised; they are afraid to come to work because of fear of possible exposure.
  • Change in patterns of commerce. Consumer demand for items related to infection prevention (e.g., respirators) is likely to increase significantly, while consumer interest in other goods may decline. Consumers may also change shopping patterns because of a COVID-19 outbreak. Consumers may try to shop at off-peak hours to reduce contact with other people, show increased interest in home delivery services, or prefer other options, such as drive-through service, to reduce person-to-person contact.
  • Interrupted supply/delivery. Shipments of items from geographic areas severely affected by COVID-19 may be delayed or cancelled with or without notification.

The OSHA COVID-19 webpage offers information specifically for workers and employers:

Jobs and Exposure Risk

OSHA outlines the different job industries and their risk of exposure to the virus by very high, high, medium, and low exposure levels. 

  • Very high exposure risk jobs are those with high potential for exposure to known or suspected sources of COVID-19 during specific medical, postmortem, or laboratory procedures. 
  • High exposure risk jobs are often peripherally related to very high risk exposure jobs. 
  • Workers in the medium exposure risk category may be in contact with the general public (e.g., in schools, high-population-density work environments, and some high-volume retail settings). 
  • Low exposure risk groups do not require contact with people or are infrequently exposed to the general public.

OSHA also outlines five steps employers can take to responsibly prevent their workers from being exposed to COVID-19.

  1. Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
  2. Prepare to Implement Basic Infection Prevention Measures
  3. Develop Policies and Procedures for Prompt Identification and Isolation of Sick People, if Appropriate.
  4. Develop, Implement, and Communicate about Workplace Flexibilities and Protections
  5. Implement Workplace Controls
    1. Engineering Controls
    2. Administrative Controls
    3. Safe Work Practices
    4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Despite the pandemic, many industries are considered too critical to close, and must remain in operation during closures with limitations.

Federal Critical Infrastructure Sectors

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has comprehensively outlined the specific sectors that the Federal Government has deemed critical. Two such sectors are manufacturing, along with food and agriculture.

Critical Manufacturing Sectors

Critical Manufacturing Industries with Sub Industries

Primary Metals ManufacturingIron/Steel Mills and FerroAlloy

 Alumina and Aluminum Production and Processing

Nonferrous Metal Production and Processing
Machinery ManufacturingEngine and Turbine

Power Transmission Equipment

Earth Moving, Mining, Agricultural, and Construction Equipment
Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Component ManufacturingElectric Motor


Transportation Equipment ManufacturingVehicles and Commercial Ships

Aerospace Products and Parts

Locomotives, Railroad and Transit Cars, and Rail Track Equipment

Products made by these industries are essential to many other critical infrastructure sectors. The Critical Manufacturing Sector focuses on the identification, assessment, prioritization, and protection of nationally significant manufacturing industries that may be susceptible to manmade and natural disasters. CISA has an existing plan from 2015. For more information, please contact the Sector-Specific Agency at 

Critical Food and Agriculture Sectors

Homeland Security has recognized Agriculture as a critical industry. As such, these closures do not apply to this sector.  The Food and Agriculture Sector is almost entirely under private ownership and is composed of an estimated 2.1 million farms, 935,000 restaurants, and more than 200,000 registered food manufacturing, processing, and storage facilities. This sector accounts for roughly one-fifth of the nation’s economic activity.

The Food and Agriculture Sector is critically dependent on many sectors, but particularly with the following:

Water and Wastewater SystemsClean Irrigation and Processed Water
Transportation SystemsMovement of Products and Livestock
EnergyPower the Equipment Needed for: Agriculture Production and Food Processing
ChemicalFertilizers and Pesticides Used in the Production of Crops

For resources available to Food and Agriculture Sector partners, visit the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration websites.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Department of Labor is administering new paid leave requirements effective through December 31, 2020. Each covered employer must post in a conspicuous place on its premises a notice of FFCRA requirements. Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who takes paid sick leave under the FFCRA and files a complaint or institutes a proceeding under or related to the FFCRA. Employers in violation of the first two weeks’ paid sick time or unlawful termination provisions of the FFCRA will be subject to the penalties and enforcement (Sections 16 and 17 of the Fair Labor Standards Act. 29 U.S.C. 216; 217.)

FCRA Coverage and Qualifying for Leave

CoveredNot Covered
Certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.Most Federal employees are not covered by these expanded provisions for family and medical leave, but are covered by paid sick leave. 
Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption.

Qualifying for Leave

Up to 80 hours paid sick leave.Paid sick leave equal to hours worked on average over a 2-week period.
If Workers are Unable to Work or Telework Due to:
1) Being subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
2) Being advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
3) Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
Employees taking leave shall be paid at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).
4) Caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
5) Experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury; or.
Employees taking leave shall be paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate (over a 2-week period).
6) Caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.,Full-time employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave at 40 hours a week

Part-time employees are eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period. 

Employees taking leave shall be paid at 2/3 their regular rate or 2/3 the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $200 per day and $12,000 in the aggregate (over a 12-week period—two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave).

Assistance for Small Businesses During the Outbreak

Covered employers qualify for dollar-for-dollar reimbursement through tax credits for all qualifying wages paid under the FFCRA. Qualifying wages are those paid to an employee who takes leave under the Act for a qualifying reason, up to the appropriate per diem and aggregate payment caps. Applicable tax credits also extend to amounts paid or incurred to maintain health insurance coverage. For more information, please see the Department of the Treasury’s website.

Opportunities and resources for emergency funding outside of these tax credits are available through the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce (CACC). Their Business Triage Center has a dedicated team to help small businesses get access to capital by packaging their loans and providing credit enhancement services, supporting applications to Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Disaster Loans and the IBank’s Small Business Disaster Relief Loan Guarantee Program. They can also help direct applicants to one of their various lending institution partners.  Additionally, the CACC created a survey to determine how to best assist small businesses statewide. Your input will better enable them to prioritize your business needs during these uncertain times.

CalAsian Chamber of Commerce Business Triage Center contact information.

The U.S. SBA is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses in designated states or territories suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). SBA Disaster Loans are limited to federally declared disaster states or territories. Therefore, your State or Territory may not yet be eligible for assistance. However as of March 17, 2020 they have issued revised criteria that makes more businesses eligible for the loans.

Under newly revised criteria

  • States or territories are only required to certify that at least five small businesses within the state/territory have suffered substantial economic injury, regardless of where those businesses are located.
  • Disaster assistance loans will be available statewide following an economic injury declaration. This will apply to current and future disaster assistance declarations related to Coronavirus.

As of March 20, 2020, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five territories and one tribe are working directly with FEMA under the Nationwide Emergency Declaration for COVID-19.

The USDA extended the application deadline for the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to no later than April 15, 2020. Contact the Rural Development office for the RBDG deadline in your state. For additional information on the REAP deadline, see page 16925 of the March 25, 2020, Federal Register.

Knowing the symptoms and preventative measures is only the start. Businesses must take responsibility for their employees’ health by adapting their daily operations, and are required to provide sick leave when prevention is not enough. In light of these responsibilities, business owners are not without help: the Federal government will be providing tax breaks to employers for those companies impacted by the outbreak and Chambers of Commerce, like CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, are providing assistance in acquiring additional funding. Be sure to visit our website and social media to read real-time updates to this article, curated content from other industry information leaders, and share how COVID-19 is affecting your business.

Be sure to contact CACC or your local SBA office to see what assistance your company may qualify for. Email CACC with “COVID-19 IMPACT – Technical Assistance Needed” in the subject line. Cha Xiong: 916-389-7489,; Linda Thor: 916-389-7478,

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Four Takeaways from the 2019 Safety and Maintenance Expo

On October 22, 2019 West Coast Industrial Solutions hosted the first annual Safety and Maintenance Expo! It was held in Clovis California in the Clovis Veteran’s Memorial District’s state-of-the-art event space. Representatives of industry ranging from food growing and processing, manufacturing, education, utilities, services, and regulatory agencies walked
the trade show floor. Attendees were also able to participate in presentations on Valley Fever training, the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), business safety and risk management, and workplace violence prevention and response. Here are the key takeaways from the four presentations made during the expo.

1) Valley Fever training will be required May 1st, 2020.

What is Valley Fever and what are its causes? According to the Mayo Clinic, Valley Fever is a fungal infection caused by spores of coccidioides organisms that can be found in the soil. These spores can be breathed into the lungs after they have been made airborne by any activity that stirs the soil: farming, construction, or strong winds. The first major presenter was Protec Safety Consultants’ Ralph Morales, who provided training for the awareness, prevention, and treatment of Valley Fever. This training was in compliance with California’s Assembly Bill 203 requiring certain construction employers in areas most affected by Valley Fever (including, but not limited to, the counties of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Tulare) to provide effective awareness training by May 1st, 2020. This training will be required annually for all employees for professions that participate in digging, grading, or other general earth moving operations; Even if your company is operating vehicles on dirt roads—because the activity can cause the Valley Fever fungus spores to become airborne.

To ensure your company is Valley Fever ready and AB 203 compliant, you can visit, contact Ralph Morales at, or call his office at (559) 900-7471.

2) The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act and Changes in Enforcement.

The FDA’s most sweeping reform of U.S. food safety laws in 70 years is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The act was meant to address food safety issues and how to prevent them in the U.S. food supply. It was originally signed into law in 2011, with the seven rules being finalized in subsequent years. The second presenter, Safe Food Alliance’s Senior Food Safety Manager, Jon Kimble, explained the FDA’s rules in this law, how they intend to approach addressing these food safety issues, and what is expected of the food industry. These rules include: preventative measures to be implemented in growing and harvesting crops; the proper procedures for processing, transporting, and storing food; the proper importing of food items; and preventing tampering in the food supply. Mr. Kimble punctuated the outlining of these rules with the latest changes the FDA was making to enforce them.

If your company requires food safety training, food safety system development and implementation, root cause analysis, management of internal audits, or advisement on conducting third-party audits, you can contact Jon Kimble at, or browse Safe Food Alliance’s website

3) Establishing a Safety and Risk Management Plan can Improve Employee Relations and Keep Costs Down

After having over 20 years experience in occupational safety and risk management James G. Parker Insurance Associates’ Vice President, John Cleveland, suggested that the foundation of risk management policies can help businesses have better employee relations and work practices as well as cost savings and mitigation of volatile insurance related expenses. Cleveland outlined the four main rules he has established for businesses to follow and how to apply them. Firstly, he suggested establishing clear expectations, policies, and procedures to ensure peak task performance. Secondly, Cleveland stated employees will generally meet performance expectations and criteria communicated to them. Thirdly, he warned each individual employee comes with their own safety and risk causes that they will bring to the workplace with them. Lastly, the manager working most closely with the employees should be motivating, recognizing, and communicating expectations appropriately.

If your company could benefit from a safety and risk management plan, reach out to James G. Parker Insurance at or contact John Cleveland at

4) Workplace Violence is Preventable–Know the Signs and How to Respond

Annually, an estimated two million U.S. workers experience violence on the job. Though the warning signs are often overlooked, there are almost always ways to prevent impending violence. Our fourth and final presenter, Alvarez Associates’ President, Hector V. Alvarez, taught a course on Workplace Violence Prevention and Response. He used his over 25 years of experience to craft a course suitable for all staff to learn awareness, tools, and resources to help protect the workplace—and those in it—from the threat of violence. Alvarez covered the dynamics of workplace violence, how to establish personal safety strategies, how to establish workplace safety strategies and resources, how to recognize safety warning signs, and how to form a protocol for properly responding to Active Violence.

If your company requires training in workplace violence prevention and response browse or contact Hector V. Alvarez at

These presenters exhibited alongside our other event participants:

If you missed 2019’s event, don’t worry! The magazine is planning another event on September 17, 2020 at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District. Register for your booth today and you will receive a complimentary business card ad in the July-September 2020 quarterly issue! Final deadline for the booth and advertising space special is May 25, 2020.

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COMPANY PROFILE: United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley

United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley (UHC) began as a grass roots health care initiative in the early 1970s by Orange Cove and Parlier community members. People who lived and worked in these small rural California cities had to drive over 40 miles to reach the nearest emergency room, and local healthcare resources were few and far between. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), UHC does everything it can to serve everyone, but especially people in underserved populations to receive the quality of healthcare they deserve.

Colleen Curtis, UHC President and CEO

Colleen Curtis has been President and CEO since 2008 and is UHC’s biggest advocate. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and effective strategic planning with an all-volunteer Board of Directors, UHC has been able to dramatically expand from only seven health centers in 2010 to seventeen health centers today and have plans for growth to reach twenty-four by the end of 2020. UHC currently has a staff of over 800 employees to deliver care to more than 90,000 patients with 515,000 clinical appointments annually to underserved communities primarily composed of Hispanic farm laborers and agricultural workers.

Through the expansion of health centers located across three Central Valley Counties of Fresno, Tulare and Kings, the UHC mission has remained focused on the underserved:

“We are committed to the lifetime wellness of our communities by providing accessible, comprehensive quality health care to everyone, with compassion and respect,
regardless of ability to pay.”

And in each health center, UHC provides state-of-the-art healthcare in all of its beautifully designed and furnished facilities including those in rural communities like Huron, Mendota, and Earlimart which are among the poorest towns in California.

Each UHC health center offers a combination of comprehensive primary healthcare services
including medical, dental, optometry, integrated behavioral health, chiropractic, prenatal care, as well as, other specialty services, ancillary services including pharmacy, x-ray, and clinical laboratory along with urgent care extended hours on weekends and free patient transportation. UHC also provides free enrollment services to assist patients with medical coverage and has a sliding scale for noninsured patients. The majority of their employees are bilingual, and everyone is incredibly welcoming and provide excellent patient focused services.

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The Basics of Food Tolerances and Maximum Residue Limits

Written by Wiley A. Hall, 4th, Ph.D.
Originally Published in Safe Food Alliance, Testing & Analysis

An MRL (Maximum Residue Limit) or a food tolerance, as it is known in the USA, is the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that can be found in or on food. While any food with a pesticide residue under an MRL should be safe to eat, it is important to remember that an MRL is not a safety limit. That being said, a residue over an MRL is not necessarily a safety hazard, but rather a violation of good agricultural practices (GAP).

If you are growing, packing, importing/exporting, or otherwise involved in the domestic or global trade in agricultural commodities, it is critical that you be aware of any MRLs that may affect your commodity and the regulations around them. This article is meant to give you a basic introduction of pesticides and their limits, but no single article can cover all the complexities and local variations in MRLS. If you have questions about your specific situation, reach out to your PCA, local farm advisor, grower group, or a Safe Food Alliance representative.

Let’s start with some definitions.


A pesticide is defined by the EPA as: “Any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.”, “Any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.” or “Any nitrogen stabilizer”.

Active Ingredient

The active ingredient (AI) in a pesticide is the chemical or chemicals that actually have the desired effect and do the heavy lifting (the AI in Round Up is glyphosate). The rest of a pesticide product is the inert ingredients such as solvents (e.g. water) and adjuvants which are additives that improve pesticide performance (spreaders, wetting agents).

Pesticide Residue

A pesticide residue is the trace amount of any pesticide remaining on the crop after treatment
(and any post treatment steps required by the label, such as a reentry period). It is important to note that an MRL may refer to an AI, adjuvant, or any other residue that results from a pesticide application, like metabolites. Remember, all MRLs are specific to a pesticide and crop combination. For example, if you find the fungicide Imazalil on oranges, and the market does not have an MRL for it, then any Imazalil residue found on an orange is illegal (a positive list system or PLS).

Default MRLs

Some markets, like Europe or Japan, have default MRLs where if there’s no specific MRL for a given crop/ pesticide, but the pesticide isn’t specially banned, the MRL defaults to a given value (usually 0.01ppm). These default MRLs are generally set to around the current limit of detection for most pesticides, though, so there’s often little difference between a default MRL and no MRL.

Residue Definition

The last important definition we’ll discuss is the residue definition. The residue definition tells you what chemicals need to be measured to determine if your commodity conforms with the MRL. For example, the residue definition for the herbicide oxyfluorfen is just the chemical oxyfluorfen, but for fosetyl-aluminum both the parent compound, fosetyl-aluminum and the chemical it degrades into in the environment, phosphonic acid, needs to be measured. This can also change based on the commodity and market: the residue definition for glyphosate for wheat in the United States is different than the definition for almonds in Australia.

How are MRLs made?

While an MRL is not a safety limit, the setting of an MRL begins with safety testing.

How It’s Done

  1. The registrant of a pesticide performs animal studies to determine the smallest amount of the active ingredient that the animal can be exposed to before having an adverse reaction. This amount is the no observable adverse effect level or NOAEL.
  2. From there, they take the NOAEL and multiply it 100 times to give a range (Safety Margin) to include as much of the population as possible.
  3. The safety margins and two toxicological values are then applied: the smallest amount that it is acceptable for humans to consume at one sitting (acute reference dose or ARfD) and the smallest amount that it is acceptable for humans to consume on a long-term basis (acceptable daily intake or ADI) are calculated.
  4. The registrant carries out field trials, where the pesticide is applied to the commodity at the highest proposed rate and the crop is then handled according to GAP.
  5. Finally, the MRL is set based on statistical analysis on the range of pesticide residues found on the crop from the field trials, after all applicable harvest activities. What that means is they analyze how much of the crop is left after harvest and measure if it might get people sick.

Following The Directions

Again, while the MRL needs to be at a safe level (all sources of consumption are summed and the MRL is only approved if the public’s estimated consumption is under the ADI and ARfD), it is really a way of ensuring that GAP was followed in the application of the pesticide. If the instructions in the pesticide label are followed, the pesticide residue, by the time the commodity reaches the consumer, should be under the MRL. It is important to follow the label, as an MRL violation is a sign that GAP was not adhered to, possibly risking harm to the environment, workers and those who live nearby the spray site.

How to Stay Informed on MRLs

The world of pesticide regulations is large and constantly changing. Even the basic information
covered in this article may seem like a lot to have to keep track of, without getting into the specifics of how MRLs work in each individual market. Europe alone is worth its own (much longer) article, one that might go out of date in the time between writing and reading. The good news is that all the information you need to stay informed on the state of MRLs is publicly available if you know where to look.

For the most up to date information, make sure to stay in communication with any PCAs, farm advisors, or grower groups who may have firsthand knowledge of your crop, growing methods, and target market.

Second, visit an online database where you can find information on what MRLs there are for your crop and market. Online databases are available for the United States, Europe, Japan, Korea, Canada, for starters, but that can still be a lot to have to keep straight. Bryant Christie Inc. keeps an excellent MRL database that covers over “…1000 pesticides, 875 commodities, and 125 markets”; due to a grant from the federal government. Access is free to users within the United States.

Remember, the key to avoiding pesticide residue issues is to stay informed. By knowing where there may be potential issues ahead of time and testing for residues before you ship your commodity, you can manage your pesticide risk.

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Unions Can – and Will – Play a Leading Role in Tackling the Climate Crisis

Written by Matt Perry, Reader in Labour History, Newcastle University
Originally Published in The Conversation

How did a billionaire win over coal miners in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to become president? Three words: “Trump digs coal”. By linking deindustrialisation and the decline of working communities in America’s “rust belt” to environmental regulation, Donald Trump could paint his greener rivals as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. Never mind that climate change and pollution will hit working class people hardest – when it’s “jobs or the planet”, the former will always be a more immediate worry for the precarious and impoverished.

It needn’t be that way though. The campaign for One Million Climate Jobs, organised by the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group, has put workers at the forefront of its vision for tackling the climate crisis. The proposals for a Green New Deal in the US and the UK are supported by trade unions which represent millions of workers. Both projects demand jobs are protected and new ones created as part of a “just transition” from the carbon economy.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) backed the September 20 day of international climate strikes and millions of workers joined the protests that school students had launched. This kind of mass mobilisation will be crucial to climate action and the role trade unions play will be indispensable. But worker-led environmentalism isn’t a recent phenomenon – the history of labour and green movements are intertwined.

You have nothing to lose but your planet

Trump’s “workers-versus-the-planet” framing misunderstands the origins of the climate crisis, which go back to the private enclosure of common land in the UK. This forced people from rural areas and into crowded urban slums, creating the first proletariat. Once there,industrialists switched from water-powered mills to coal-powered factories to intensify the work routines of these new urban workers.

The ‘dark satanic mills’ of ‘Cottonopolis’: Manchester, England
in 1840 during the height of its cotton industry.

Coal powered travel helped bosses find cheaper labour overseas and strengthened their authority over an insurgent working class. At every step, workers resisted this transition. The high point of this long battle was the English plug riots of 1842 – viewed as the world’s first general strike – when textile workers literally pulled the plug on the coal-fired boilers of their factories.

In their new urban grimescapes, workers suffered from the toxic raw materials and effluence of the factories they worked in. Class determined whether city dwellers lived in the smog around chimneys or with clean air in leafy suburbs, and it still does.

Born out of the acute stress of living in polluted and disease ridden slums, working class movements won public health reforms that have became the standard, such as proper sanitation and rubbish disposal. Working class people have always valued nature in leisure time too, whether it’s cycling, fishing, pigeon-fancying, dog walking or tending allotments.

Unions have long campaigned against workplace hazards, and it’s workers who fight the impacts of climate change every day. Firefighters risk their lives to rescue people from more frequent flooding and wildfires and the Fire Brigades Union has campaigned against staff cuts, inadequate levels of equipment and a lack of training to deal with hazards like polluted floodwater.

A world to win

Environmental struggles litter labour history, but they’re not always the stories you read about. The modern environmental movement emerged, to a large extent, from Rachael Carson’s brilliant Silent Spring – a book published in 1962 which revealed the devastating ecological consequences of pesticides in post-war America. But the book overlooked the acute burden on vulnerable agricultural workers who are forced to use these chemicals.

During a spectacular organising drive and protests by the United Farm Workers in the 1960s, union leader Cesar Chavez exposed the damage these toxins caused to Latino labourers, winning concessions from their employers and standing up for them against anti-migrant racism.

Belfast, July 30 2019:
Workers from the Harland and Wolff shipyard, where the Titanic was built,
protest against the potential closure of the yard.
DJ Wilson/Shutterstock

Today, the shipyard that built the Titanic – Harland and Wolff in Belfast – is threatened with closure, but its workers are defiant. They demand that the shipyards be nationalised and used to create renewable energy infrastructure. This offers an exciting glimpse of the leading role that workers can take in the enfolding response to the climate crisis.

Elsewhere in the world, labour organisations have allied with indigenous people against developments that threaten their lands and destroy the local environment. In British Columbia, unions supported First Nation resistance to pipelines and tar sands oil extraction, while the rubber tappers’ union demonstrated against destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Such a broad alliance is needed to tackle climate change, and that means mobilising labour in its widest sense – women in the household economy the rural poor, indigenous people, fishing communities, the unemployed and school students. Equally, understanding the configuration of power and ideology that drives the fossil fuel economy – big businesses, geopolitical rivalry over oil and gas resources, nationalistic buck-passing, corporate PR and those who blame overpopulation. With CO2 emissions rising, there’s little time to waste.

Working class environmentalism is part of the solution to the climate crisis. If successful, the movement will give new meaning to the old maxim: “the cause of labour is the hope of the world”.

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Innovations in Irrigation for SGMA Compliance Ease: Fresno State #AgTechDay Showcase

Written by Tara Sweeney

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

USDA State Shares of Total U.S. Irrigated Acres 2012 Pie Chart

Anyone in California can tell you—California is facing a water problem. The majority of that water is being consumed by agriculture—according to the USDA, it accounts for 80 percent of the United States’ water consumption. In many Western States, it can account for over 90 percent. In 2012, California was the state with the second largest agricultural acreage at 7.9 million—at about 14 percent of the Nation’s total.

In the wake of increasing drought risk in “The Sunshine State” the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into California law in September 2014, the act requires local governments and water agencies to reduce water use, reaching a balance between pumping and recharging groundwater basins by 2040 for critically overdrafted basins, then 2042 for the remaining high and medium priority basins.

Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs)

Localized GSAs work within city governments to meet their specific land-use and water-management requirements; SGMA groundwater management is a platform that can help local growers, GSAs, and local governments track and monitor water use in relation to current basin levels. UC Davis defines the SGMA online portal, under the California Department of Water Resources, as a platform for local GSAs to create groundwater sustainability plans to show how they plan to balance groundwater pumping with groundwater replenishment within 20 years, without undesirable results such as subsidence—the sinking of an area of land due to the movement of underground materials. These local agencies will create local solutions that will vary from basin to basin.

How are growers meant to track their ET (evaporation to transpiration) ratio efficiently, to ensure that they are compliant with GSAs by adopting Groundwater Sustainability Plans? Each GSA has specialized requirements to react to their specific local legislation as well as their local water needs. As such, growers need to start looking into innovations in irrigation. Innovations for both assistance in monitoring water-use for ease of reporting to their GSA’s, and to streamline the efficiency of their growing operations.

Fresno State AgTechDay Showcase

That’s where Fresno State’s AgTechDay comes into play; on November 15, 2019 The Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) hosted the event at Fresno State’s Water, Energy, and Technology (WET) center that acts as a hub of innovation incubating companies that can create products that will make tracking water usage—and meeting SGMA regulations more manageable.

Bill Green, Center for Irrigation Technology’s Education Manager was quoted as saying,

“The Center for Irrigation and Technology is excited to host, encourage and facilitate conversations surrounding real-world issues in water, energy, and agriculture. Our goal is to help lead those conversations, but also inform and educate those who wish to learn more, or reach a higher level of sustainability within those three industries.”

The event provided monitoring and controlling device option overviews for the industry with examples. An Agricultural Consultant, Researcher, and Sales Representative explained how their methods and devices worked at the water source at the plant source, and devices that worked in-between. Below is a brief explanation of their offerings and how they can benefit growing operations at each stage in the water management process.

At the Water Source

Some of the technologies proposed would help growers and GSAs monitor water use at the source. Examples of which are specialized fertigation—injection of fertilizer or nutrients into the irrigation system—methods, collecting data via digital platforms to upload to the SGMA online platform, and monitoring power and water data wirelessly at the point of utility power meters.

Stock Image of Blueberries

Among the orchards in Fresno State’s Agricultural Laboratory, Agricultural Consultant William D. Jones proposed a strategy—based on his research with blueberries and similar crops—for more efficient fertigation. Firstly, that the measurements of concentration of fertilizer in the water source (parts per million) and amount of fertilizer applied to the field (pounds per acre) of fertilizer nutrient elements. Secondly, placement of the elements directly in the root zone. Thirdly, more suitable fertigation equipment were key to improving crop yield and quality for growers while protecting the groundwater resource from the leaching of those chemicals.

Most growers base their fertigation measurements on the amount (lbs/acre) of fertilizer; Jones suggested that this can cause an inconsistency and overuse of fertilizers. As such, Jones suggested fertigation be measured by concentration (ppm) in the water provided at the root source to both provide consistent fertilizer application, as well as preventing excess fertilizer nutrients being carried into the groundwater resource. Jones created a chart outlining the amount of fluid fertilizer and pounds of nutrient element per one acre inch of water for each element. Useful dry fertilizer products he noted were urea, ammonium sulfate, ammonium phosphate, MAP, DAP, calcium nitrate, ammonium nitrate (scarce), and potassium nitrate. Useful fluid fertilizer products he noted were CN 9, CAN 17, UAN 32, and 10-34-0 Polyphosphate.

Considerations that he suggested for the implementation of a more efficient fertigation system are whether the injection installation system were to be stationary or mobile; whether nutrient configuration be in single tanks—either single nutrient or multinutrient with chemical compatibility considerations— or multiple tanks for multiple elements; along with nutrient types and concentrations to be mindful of.

For more information you can contact William D. Jones, Certified Crop Advisor via email or call his office at (559) 642-3650.

Alongside the canal in the outreaches of Fresno State’s Agricultural Laboratory, PowWow Energy presented on how their digital platform provides integration and reporting. PowWow uses the currently installed SmartMeters to monitor water use—saving on the cost of hardware in that respect—for reporting to GSAs, along with telemetry stations to track the groundwater table. Their system’s algorithms can help set a baseline of data, potentially identify problems, and track measurable results.

Stock Image of a Water Meter

Morgan Halpenny presented the Pumpsight meter, which provides measurement of power and water data via a wireless receiver. providing measurement of power and water data via a wireless receiver. Pumpsight also uses telemetry—the process of recording and transmitting the readings of an instrument—and they are compatible with radio frequency systems that have a common published interface (LoRa, Zigbee, SigFox.)

Firstly, Pumpsight offers pump optimization with efficiency and cost analysis, measuring when and how much water is applied, and being able to respond to line pressure and water table changes. Secondly, the system offers failure prevention by identifying degrading equipment, monitoring well levels for rehab and maintenance needs, and system alerts for blowouts, power outages, or equipment failures. Pumpsight’s data logging feature’s higher frequency of sampling can provide better information resource for making water management decisions, measure the impact of conservation efforts and equipment upgrades, along with recording historical water consumption. Halpenny suggests that the increased frequency will allow users to respond more quickly to water needs, instead of the traditional measurement comparing the beginning of the season to the end of the season.

For more information PowWow can be contacted at or (415) 658-7125.
Pumpsight can be contacted at or (213) 793-5894

The previous technologies monitor water use at the source, further on we will discuss technologies that are attached to the plant and one that acts as a water control measure between the source and the plant.

Attached to the Plant

Researchers from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) evaluated a series of devices that measure sap flow in individual plants, equipping vineyards to optimize irrigation — meeting water conservation goals and realizing energy and financial savings.

EPRI Engineer/Scientist Ryan Berg presented research led by EPRI’s Sudeshna Pabi and Marek Samotyj on “Plant Aware Irrigation” (PAI) developed by Fruition Sciences, supported by the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge Program, through Commission Agreement Manager, Karen Perrin. Researchers assessed PAI’s potential benefits by quantifying water and electricity savings, along with crop quantity and quality at harvest.

The technology uses sap flow sensors installed directly on vine stems. Vines are selected using aerial imagery, and ground-based laser mapping. Proprietary algorithms use sap flow data along with climate data to derive a daily Water Deficit Index (WDI) alerting staff to irrigate crops when an established threshold is reached.

Researchers installed PAI technology at three test vineyards in Northern California’s wine country, each producing a different type of grape (cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and chardonnay). They evaluated results relative to traditional irrigation practices. The vineyards were selected to provide insights into the water/energy nexus and its relevance to climatic and grape variations. In addition to water consumption, data included berry sugar accumulation profiles to assess fruit ripeness and yield measurements over 12 months.

Stock Photo of Grape Vines

They reported that the water stress imposed in PAI treatment blocks indicated an average of 61% water and energy savings across all locations, with no effect on fruit ripening or yields. In fact, researchers and vineyard owners noted a qualitative and quantitative improvement, as measured by earlier berry ripening leading to:
• higher berry color content and more flavors;
• more uniform berry sugar accumulation profile; and
• similar or higher individual berry weight.

The research suggests that monitoring vines directly can potentially help keep plants healthy and producing to meet requirements, while enabling environmental and fiscal sustainability.

For more information you can contact Ryan Berg at or (650) 855-8627.

The last technology to discuss goes between the plant and water source to act as a way to control the irrigation process.

And In-Between

Joseph Gallegos of Drought Diet Products presented a new technology, previously only used on smaller-scale urban, organic farming growing operations—used on berries and similar root systems—where the irrigation system creates a miniature virtual water table for application of water and fertigation nutrients at the root level. The system consists of post-industrial ABS plastic for the piping that is installed at the depth of the root system to release the water directly where it is needed instead of surface treatments which may not penetrate the soil completely. His company is looking for large-scale orchard operations to install an enlarged version of this system alongside every other row of trees. The goal of this is to reduce the loss of water through evaporation, and only use what the trees need. In the winter time the same pipe is used to recharge the groundwater from winter storms or snow runoff—equal to the amount of water
that was taken out during the summer months. End goal is groundwater balancing each crop year. More research needs to be done, to measure how this technology can be translated from small-scale urban farms to large-scale industrial farming methods.

For more information you can contact Joseph Gallegos at
or call his office at (562) 301-5598

These innovations mentioned were only those of the featured presenters, for more information on other innovations available through those that participated in the trade show at Fresno State’s AgTechDay, please contact Courtney Meinhold, (559) 278-2066,; for more information about Fresno State’s Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) contact Charles Hillyer,; for more information about the Water, Energy, and Technology (WET) center call (559) 278-2066 or fax (559) 278-6033).

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Makerspaces— Revolutionizing Manufacturing and Revitalizing the Workforce

Written by Tara Sweeney

What are Makerspaces, FabLabs, and Hackerspaces?


Dale Dougherty, CEO of Make Community describes the Maker Community as “people with creative and technical expertise that have ideas they’d like to make and ideas they want to share.” Even the Maker Community structure is highly adaptable—it is a global network of localized makerspaces. The venue of a makerspace can vary from schools and colleges, to community non-profits, to internal corporate sponsored groups—as long as they provide
the tools, materials, and environment to make andinnovate. Makerspaces developed in the early 2000s on the wave of the DYI movement. Since then, it has become a way for technologists to code and build sophisticated electronics, as explained by the World Economic Forum.

Some makerspaces are informal shared workspaces, whereas others provide informal courses on subjects such as electronics (both hardware and software,) 3D printing, additive or subtractive manufacturing, textiles, biotechnical, auto mechanical, and vacuuforming to name a few. Different types of makerspaces include fablabs and hackerspaces. Downtown Fresno, California has examples of each of these types of makerspaces: Ideaworks which functions more as a general makerspace; the Pi-Shop which acts as a fablab as well as an entrepreneurial
incubator; and Root Hackerspace which—as its name suggests—is a more generalized hackerspace, though it has makerspace capabilities.


Ideaworks makerspace sits in a historical building that once housed an indoor pool; currently, they only utilize the first floor of the building, but as their community base and capabilities grow they plan to expand into the multiple floors. As you make your way through the H Street entrance, guided by the lightbulb gear logo, you will walk into a lobby where they have hints of their home building’s history and various projects on display. A long hallway directly in front of the entrance will lead you all the way to the back of their warehouse; on your right at the mouth of the hallway will be their breakroom that branches off to a textiles room and a small hackerspace. Through the hackerspace you would be able to go to their machining section. To your left is the Board President and Executive Director, Janelle Ozeran’s office. Then the next door to the left is the ceramics room. The door after houses their 3D printers, and at the end of the hall is their woodshop.

As a 501-3c non-profit, Ideaworks is one-hundred percent volunteer driven. “At Ideaworks, we think of ourselves as more of a community workshop,” stated Ozeran. “In addition to just having the shop spaces and the tools that our members can access, we have a community of people who can lend their expertise,” she explained.

They have themed creation days: Metal Mondays, Tech Tuesdays, 3D Thursdays, and Sawdust Sundays—open to the public to tour the facility and learn about the types of courses and equipment that they can offer. Ideaworks Academy offers Vocational Training in industries such as metalwork and welding. They also host a Coder Dojo, meant for seven to 17 year olds to learn simple coding projects—partnering with Kepler Neighborhood school to expose elementary students to coding—that they host in their hackerspace. You can join Ideaworks for their themed days open to the
public, or join the community and attend monthly member meetings. They will also be celebrating Pi Day, March 14th, 2020.

Ideaworks can be contacted at or through text at (559) 840-8749.
For more information browse

Though Ideaworks represents the more generalized makerspace possibilities—there are more specialized versions that expand on their specific tools—such as their 3D printers and their smaller-scale coding bootcamp; FabLabs and Hackerspaces are two such specialized makerspace types.


A Fab Labs or digital fabrication laboratories as defined by Fab Foundation are “places to play, create, learn, mentor, and invent by providing access to the environment, the skills, the materials and the advanced technology to allow anyone anywhere to make (almost) anything.”

The Pi Shop

On the opposite side of the industrial warehouse that holds Ideaworks, is The Pi Shop; and like the juxtaposed physical position the Pi Shop is the other side of the makerspace coin. Where Ideaworks is more informal and focused on the creative and educational opportunities of a makerspace, The Pi Shop offers these same opportunities towards entrepreneurial incubating for product ideation and prototyping.

“Our goal here [at The Pi Shop] is to serve the community: entrepreneurs, start-up businesses and really help them from the idea phase, to the prototype phase, to the launch to market phase and also with the funding and legal aspects. So, in every step of the entrepreneur’ s journey or the start-up business journey, we are there to assist them from start to finish”

– -Kent Pelisari, Manager of Producteurs at The Pi Shop

In-line with its more entrepreneurial focus, The Pi Shop has co-work office spaces where they can host their courses and members can hold meetings. The internal hallway that houses these smaller rooms leads into their large warehouse that holds their larger equipment: CNC, 3D printing, milling, and laser cutting equipment along with gated lockers that members can use to store their projects.

“We are trying to bring manufacturing incubators here in Fresno and having them start their business here, have a hub here, have a headquarter office here, because it’s a great place to start a business. We have a vast network of Manufacturers we work with and one of the things is when you create a product here, we want to get you in contact with manufacturers in the Central Valley or help you build that manufacturing facility. So we have both of those arms to help with that.”

-Kent Pelisari, Manager of Producteurs at The Pi Shop

They offer free workshops monthly—how to pitch, how to network, how to crowdfund, and more.

They are partnering with Merced and Fresno State Universities on capstone projects and work closely with the human powered vehicle club at Fresno State. They are looking to expand by offering workshops targeting high schools for entrepreneurship training. They will be hosting Entrepreneurship A to Z workshops running until April 2020, and business networking events to be announced.

The Pi Shop can be contacted at or via (559) 481-5004.
For more information browse


The first Hackerspace, C-Base a non-profit association in Berlin, Germany was established in 1995 to increase knowledge and skills pertaining to computer software, hardware, and data networks.

Root Access Hackerspace

“Root Access Hackerspace is a community workspace, we are an intersection of three different styles of DYI spaces.” explained former Chief Operations Officer Andrew Runner. They offer woodworking, a hackerspace component—where they do electronic recycling, lock picking, and programming microcontrollers like raspberry pi or arduino—and a fablab component with lasercutters or 3D printers.

The community offers monthly meetups (Raspberry Pi, Intro to Linux, Sip and Stitch) and participates in local events (Hackathon at Fresno State, DevFest, Google Developers Group of Fresno) and host themed meetups (Pumpkin hacking, Hacksgiving).

Root Access Hackerspace can be contacted at
For more information browse

These three makerspaces discussed outline examples of standalone operations as structures for makerspaces. However, there are also structures that work with or within classrooms and colleges, or even corporate and manufacturing facilities.

How do these makerspaces benefit manufacturing? According to CMTC California Manufacturers Network, “Makerspaces allow anyone—students, workers, and executives—to turn ideas into products.” However most, due to their lack of structured courses, do not train students entering the workforce—an especially key need that the industry faces according to Gene Sherman, the founder of Vocademy.

How Makerspaces Benefit Manufacturing

Trained Workforces

My goal is to empower people with modern hands-on skills and make them more valuable to the world.
By doing so, we can drive innovation, solve the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Gap,
and help people find meaningful and well paying careers.

Gene Sherman, Founder of

Vocademy offers hands-on training, which is the next logical step for someone who gets a taste of manufacturing
through a makerspace and wants to start creating structure for workforce development.
Overall trade and tech school enrollment has been declining each year since 2011, as reported by Popular Mechanics. Manufacturing employs 8.9% of the workforce while paying 12% more than other occupations by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers. Despite this, a 2018 Deloitte Institute report notes that 89% of manufacturers can’t find qualified applicants and are leaving jobs unfilled.

In response, Sherman created Vocademy: a “Vocational Academy” meant to train on the key vocational fields. Vocademy offers 40-60 hour training courses in advanced manufacturing subjects: electronics and programming, machining shop fundamentals, welding and fabrication, sewing and textiles, and woodworking fundamentals. In the future they plan to offer CNC machining fundamentals, life skills, and manufacturing career skills. Or students can
combine all these courses into a six month program. Taking courses gives students access to three months of using a makerspace-type lab where they can practice and create. Vocademy currently partners with charter schools and manufacturers that look to it for trained hires.

Gene Sherman can be contacted at or by phone at (951) 660-1803.
For more information browse

Increased ROI

Examples of U.S. companies experiencing a return on investment in makerspaces and the equipment needed are available in California, Michigan, and Kentucky.

The SFMade coalition consists of 400 manufacturing firms in San Francisco—an existing effort to boost the “community of makers” in San Francisco, as reported in The Atlantic. 102 of those firms founded during the economic distress of 2009-2012 increased their employment by 10.5% in 2011 and 12.5% by 2012; they had drawn from a local base of skilled workers—that now would need to be created in other areas of the U.S. through training courses such as Vocademy.

Ford launched a Makerspace facility in Dearborn, Michigan—which experienced a 200 percent increase in intellectual property development in the first year—as reported by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

The FirstBuild microfactory in Kentucky, backed by GE Appliances in partnership with Local Motors, is a co-creation community that invents new home appliances. They grew 1,000 percent—from 23 to over 23,000 employees—in only a few years.

As more manufacturers adopt makerspaces, more research and case studies can be done to more thoroughly analyze other potential benefits that they pose to the industry.