March 2018

Recently a very well-respected farmer and farm bureau member attended the Ag Roundtable meeting at the MCFB office where GAR Tootelian provided an update of safety requirements and was blown away by what is required to operate an ag business these days.  He asked that I tell members what they needed to do to be in compliance with all of the red tape, and that I needed to do so in large bold letters in our newsletter.  My response to him was that although we may not use the front page of this publication to scare people into compliance, we do make a conscious effort to share articles and flyers about what’s going on.  Here a MCFB, we do our best to try to bring everyone up to speed with what is required of them by law, but often times little to no attention is paid to these things.  There’s a reason why MCFB focuses its safety trainings to specific areas…We try to hit the big issues, and make sure our members have an affordable method to achieve compliance, although many think it’s just about Farm Bureau making money, so they don’t care to participate.

By law every ag employer (as well as other industries) must have an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan, as well as maintain it in a way that employees know what’s in it.  You must also have updated OSHA posters in a place visible and accessible to your employees.  Now I know employers think they can keep the same posters for several years in a row, but not this year.  There were significant changes in the posters effective January 2018, meaning you MUST replace them.  Did you also know, that an employee cannot operate a forklift without proper certification?  It doesn’t matter if the operator is you (the employer), your son or daughter, or an employee; the operator must have proper training and certification.  Did you also know that if any of your employees use masks for chemical applications (other than paper masks) they must be Fit tested on a yearly basis, and to do so they must have a medical exam?  Did you also know that employees should be properly trained on ATV and Tractor operation, as well as all harvest equipment?  These are just a few of the trainings that are easy to take care, and MCFB offers the opportunity to do so.

Safety trainings are underway for the year, all of which cover these specific topics as well as a few others (including heat illness).  I urge all of you to spend a few bucks and send your employees to these trainings because it’s a lot cheaper to pay MCFB than it is to pay the regulating body that will impose a penalty for non-compliance.  A penalty for failing to post a Federal OSHA poster can be up to $7,000, the failure to post the California poster could be $1,000, not to mention additional penalties for the various other specific posters that are missing, and for what?  Not posting a set of four posters that will cost you $100…Pay the $100 for the posters and put your mind at ease.  I’m guessing most members spend more than that a year on Starbucks and wine.  I also encourage all of you (as I usually do) to reach out to MCFB with any other needs.  We are here to do our best not only to advocate on your behalf, but ensure that you’re well taken care of, and in compliance with whatever the state requires of you.

On a lighter note, our Annual Scholarship Wine and Beer Tasting is set for May 6, 2018, at Peters Brothers Nursery.  This is our one and only scholarship event for the year, and with support from our members and community, MCFB is able to award multiple multi-year scholarships to deserving students in our county.  The last few years, we’ve been able to award over $40,000 per year to students.  I hope that you will come out and join us for an afternoon filled with wine, beer and food.  Tickets will be available at the MCFB office as well as from MCFB board members, and there are still sponsorship opportunities available.

Looking forward to hearing from and/or seeing you all soon.

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