Analysis of Governor’s Wildfire-Related Budget Proposals Recommends Strategic Plan
Last Friday, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) issued a report on “The 2020-21 Budget: Governor’s Wildfire-Related Proposals,” which examined “22 proposals for wildfire-related augmentations across multiple departments” of the State government outlined in Governor Gavin Newsom’s initial budget proposal, issued January 10.
One major concern of the analysis is that some budget allocations may be insufficiently justified or inefficiently allocated because the State has no unified, overarching wildfire-mitigation strategy. To address this concern, the LAO recommends “that the Legislature require the development of a statewide strategic wildfire plan…to inform and guide state policymakers regarding the most effective strategies for responding to wildfires and mitigating wildfire risks.”
That strategic plan is necessary, according to the LAO, in part because of the sheer number of stakeholders involved in wildfire management, including state and local government, federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service, public utilities and private landowners. “The entities often face competing demands and complicated incentives that might not fully account for wildfire risks,” the LAO reports, and a strategic plan may work to better unify the efforts of these stakeholders.
The LAO finds that, even in the absence of a unified wildfire strategy, some of the Governor’s budget proposals are nevertheless reasonable, such as a wildland firefighting research grant, defensible space education programs and the establishment of a Wildfire Forecast and Threat Intelligence Integration Center. Numerous other proposals, however, lack sufficient implementation details in the initial budget or are simply not justified, according to the LAO.
To see the detailed recommendations of the LAO on each of the Governor’s wildfire-related budget proposals, click here.
CDFW Expands “Three Strikes” Mountain Lion Policy to Central Coast and Southern California
On February 13, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued a memo expanding its “three strikes” mountain lion depredation policy to the Central Coast and Southern California regions. The memo makes clear that the policy is in response to the recent petition to list mountain lions in the region as threatened, stating that the policy’s geographic extent includes “the full extent of the proposed Southern California and Central Coast [Evolutionarily Significant Unit] boundary as set forth in the petition to list the ESU of mountain lion as threatened under CESA, which was recently filed with the Fish and Game Commission.”
Under the policy, CDFW will only permit non-lethal “take” of a mountain lion (e.g. pursuit and hazing) after the first and second instances in which a mountain lion is confirmed to have perpetrated a depredation of livestock or domestic animals. Only upon the third confirmed depredation by a mountain lion will CDFW issue a lethal take depredation permit.
Beginning in December of 2017, CDFW issued the policy for mountain lions in portions of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Santa Ana Mountains. CCA and other agriculture organizations have challenged the legality of the policy.
The memo also declares that “all mountain lion depredation permits within the” region “will require the convening of a Response Guidance Team (RGT) and no final permit decision will be made without RGT/headquarters involvement and approval.”
The policy does not appear to impact one’s ability to take a mountain lion caught in the act of depredation. Fish and Game Code § 4807(a) is clear that “any mountain lions that is encountered while in the act of pursuing, inflicting injury to, or killing livestock, or domestic animals, may be taken immediately by the owner of the property or the owner’s employee or agent” so long as the take is reported to CDFW within 72 hours.
CCA believes that the three-strike policy is contrary to California law, and is pressing CDFW to reverse the policy. To see CDFW’s memo (including a map of the policy’s geographic boundaries), click here.
NCBA Expresses Concerns as Brazilian Beef Regains Access to U.S.
On Friday, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that Brazilian beef will once again have market access in the U.S., therefore ending the policy that has banned Brazil from exporting raw intact beef into the U.S since June 22, 2017.
“FSIS confirmed that Brazil has implemented the corrective actions and has determined that its food safety inspection system governing the production of raw intact beef is equivalent to that of the U.S,” FSIS said in a constituent update. “As a result, effective February 21, 2020, FSIS is lifting the suspension on raw intact beef products exported from Brazil to the U.S. Raw intact beef products from Brazil will be subject to re-inspection at U.S. points of entry by FSIS import inspectors as is required with meat, poultry, and processed egg products from other countries.”
The 2017 suspension of all fresh beef from Brazil was implemented due to concerns that Brazilian beef did not measure up to U.S. safety standards. In the announcement of the suspension in 2017, it was stated that the rate at which FSIS refused entry of meat products from Brazil was significantly higher than the rate of rejection of meat imports coming from the rest of the world.
In addition to questions of food safety standards, Brazil’s history with Foot and Mouth Disease has also caused concerns and made headlines over the years.
While FSIS has now lifted the ban—and says it is certain after many audits and inspections that Brazil has made the correct changes to ensure the safety of their beef is equivalent to U.S. standards—CCA affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is expressing its concerns about Brazilian beef having access in the U.S. again.
“NCBA has frequently questioned the lack of scientific evidence that was used to justify Brazil’s initial access to the U.S. market in 2016, and unfortunately, we were not surprised when Brazil forfeited its beef access to the U.S. in 2017 due to numerous food safety violations” said Kent Bacus, NCBA Senior Director for International Trade and Market Access. “NCBA praised Secretary Perdue for standing up for science-based trade and holding Brazil accountable for their numerous violations by suspending Brazil’s access and subjecting Brazil to undergo a thorough science-based inspection and audit process. It is evident that USDA believes that Brazil has addressed the concerns raised in the audit process, and steps will soon be taken to restore Brazil’s access to the United States.”
Bacus continued to address NCBA’s concerns with the country’s regained access and ensured NCBA will remain committed to monitoring animal health and food safety issues.
“Given Brazil’s history of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and its track record of repeated food safety violations at ports-of-entry, you can rest assured that NCBA will keep an eagle eye focus on all developments with Brazil and we expect nothing less than the highest level of scrutiny from USDA and customs officials,” Bacus said.
NCBA also cautioned how this announcement impacts labeling saying, “The re-entry of Brazilian beef to the U.S. market only further exacerbates concerns about the use of ’Product of USA’ labels on beef sold in the United States.”
CCA will continue to provide updates in Legislative Bulletin on impactful trade and market updates with Brazil and other international trade partners.
GET INVOLVED: Tell Fish & Game Commission Not to List Mountain Lions as Threatened
Earlier this month, the California Fish and Game Commission received more than 4,500 comments in favor of a petition to list mountain lions as threatened throughout the Central Coast and Southern California.
Most of those 4,500 comments likely came from supporters of the Center for Biological Diversity, which on February 7 emailed its vast network of contacts asking them to “Tell the California Fish and Game Commission…It must grant these mountain lions protection under the state’s Endangered Species Act.”
While CCA has vocally opposed the petition, to ensure that CBD’s vocal members do not drown out ranchers’ voices it is essential that ranchers write to the Commission and tell them that mountain lions should not be protected under California’s Endangered Species Act. The most successful comments will be those that address mountain lion impacts to your ranch and likely impacts that mountain lion protections would have upon your operation. Any information you may have about mountain lion population abundance in Southern California or the Central Coast may also be valuable.
Because the Commission has yet to release its agenda for its April 15-16 hearing, CCA encourages you to send your letters to CCA’s Kirk Wilbur at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the CCA office. Letters should be addressed to Eric Sklar, President; California Fish and Game Commission; 1416 9th Street, Room 1320; Sacramento, CA 95814.
$4.65 Million Available in Funding to Upgrade Agricultural Trucks & Equipment
The California Air Resources Board announced the Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions program is accepting applications for funding across 18 California air districts. The funding is to replace agricultural trucks, pump engines, tractors, and more with cleaner equipment to reduce pollution and improve local air quality.
According to the California Air Resources Board, “The statewide Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions (FARMER) program received $132 million in fiscal year 2018-19. Approximately $4.65 million is specifically designated for districts that each contribute less than 1 percent of total statewide emissions from agricultural equipment.”
Applications for funding are due March 1, however, there will be a second round of funding with applications being accepted May 1 through June 1, 2020.
To read the full release about the eligibility for funding and learn more about the 18 districts with access to the FARMER Program, click here.
CDFA’s Healthy Soils Program Now Accepting Applications
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for the Healthy Soils Program (HSP), a program with the goals to build soil organic carbon and reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases.
More details about the HSP Incentive Program are outlined below.
- Grants pay up to $100,000 over three years
- Provides funding available to implement soil management and vegetative practices on farms and rangeland
- Follows NRCS practice guidelines
- Provides funding with no cost-sharing required
To learn more about the HSP, attend the Upcoming Technical Assistance Workshop on March 5th at McCay Hall in Cathy’s Valley. Please send RSVPs for the workshop to email@example.com.
To learn more about the program and the event, click here.