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July 13, 2020

COVID-19 From Headquarters

California Governor Announces Closure of Indoor Dining, Bars and Other Services, Effective Immediately
During today’s press conference on the state’s response to COVID-19, Governor Newsom announced that due to increasing cases of COVID-19 infection and the increase in hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions around the state, effective today (7/13/20) all counties must close indoor activities including dine-in restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers (bowling alleys, batting cages, etc.), zoos, museums and cardrooms. Furthermore, across the state all bars, breweries and pubs must close both indoor and outdoor services.

The Governor also announced counties that have been on the state’s “County Monitoring List” for three consecutive days will be required to immediately shut down all indoor activity of these sectors: fitness centers, worship services, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services (nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors), hair salons and shopping malls. Businesses and services in these sectors may continue to stay open if modifications are made for operating outside or by pick-up. The counties impacted by these further restrictions make up 80% of the state’s population and include: Colusa, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Yolo, Yuba and Ventura.

For more information on the monitoring status of your county, click here.

State Legislature Postpones Return Among COVID-19 Outbreak
When the California legislature adjourned for Summer Recess just before Independence Day, lawmakers planned to return to session today. But with two lawmakers and a handful of staffers at the Capitol testing positive for the coronavirus, the legislature is delaying its return two weeks until Monday, July 27.

Last Monday, Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Marina Del Rey) announced that she had tested positive for the coronavirus two days earlier. Then on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) announced that he had been hospitalized with COVID-19 since Sunday, July 5.

It is believed that the virus spread on June 26, when the Assembly met in person to vote on the state budget.

The delay comes as the legislature was already rushing through a pandemic-shortened legislative session. The legislature shut down on March 16 as the state began to roll out shelter-at-home policies, with the Assembly not returning until May 4 and the Senate returning one week later. The legislature must conclude its lawmaking before a Constitutional deadline of August 31.

CCA, NCBA Lobby Congress for Additional COVID-19 Relief
Late last month, CCA and national affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)—along with 33 other livestock associations—submitted a letter to Congress regarding priorities the beef industry would like to see incorporated in possible “Phase 4” COVID-19 legislation. The Senate and House of Representatives are likely to tackle another phase of COVID-19 relief legislation upon their return from recess beginning July 20.

Of primary concern to many cattle ranchers, the letter encourages Congress to improve USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Currently, “Part 2” of CFAP only provides ranchers $33/head for cattle owned after the April 15. Noting the arbitrary nature of this cutoff date and the significant market impacts to America’s cattlemen, the letter asks that USDA “be provided the guidance and additional resources necessary to address” those market impacts.

Other priorities highlighted in the letter include increasing processing capacity at packing plants and making greater acreage available for emergency haying and grazing under the Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Program.

“The assistance provided to rural America through the CARES Act represented a critical step toward ensuring U.S. cattle producers remain operationally viable in the short-term during the height of COVID-19,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “However, as our nation collectively works to rebound from this pandemic, we have a clearer understanding of the challenges that remain for our industry, as well as the long-term solutions needed to facilitate a robust recovery. While CFAP was a good start, these cattle assistance payments can be improved upon and tailored to provide additional support to those in our industry who have been especially affected by market disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, further measures such as emergency haying and grazing under the Conservation Reserve Program, a fed-cattle set aside pilot program, and the waiving of overtime fees for Federal Meat Inspectors can be utilized by Congress to ensure the beef supply chain is stronger moving forward.”

PPP Application Deadline Extended Through August 8
On July 4, President Trump signed S. 4116, a bill extending the application deadline for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through August 8. PPP had initially expired at the end of June, but $130 billion remained in the fund at that time.

More information from CCA regarding SBA’s PPP is available on CCA’s COVID-19 webpage, here.

From Headquarters

SWRCB Preparing to Develop ‘Statewide Grazing Guidance’
In 2015—thanks largely to the grassroots efforts of CCA members—the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) scrapped its Grazing Regulatory Action Project (GRAP), a misguided effort which sought to establish statewide grazing regulations founded on a faulty correlative assumption that water quality impairments near grazing operations were caused by those grazing operations.

When the SWRCB discontinued GRAP, it committed to examining “effective non-regulatory efforts for [Best Management Practices] implementation,” including revisiting, revising and revitalizing the 1995 Ranch Water Quality Management Plan process and water quality ‘short courses’ that had been successfully implemented by hundreds of ranchers to safeguard water quality.

Last Tuesday, the SWRCB convened a virtual meeting of grazing water quality stakeholders to discuss development of its “California Rangeland Water Quality Guidance,” or Statewide Grazing Guidance, which will seek to update the 1995 Ranch Water Quality Management Plan.

As an initial step, the SWRCB is requesting feedback on a California Grazing Survey, which solicits information such as the water quality benefits and other impacts of grazing, types of BMPs that safeguard water quality, etc. CCA staff and leadership are working with grazing water quality experts to craft CCA’s responses to the survey, but welcomes members to participate in the survey, as well. Survey responses are due by July 22.

According to information released during Tuesday’s virtual meeting, SWRCB staff intends to release a draft version of the Statewide Grazing Guidance sometime in the Fall for public feedback. CCA staff will remain closely engaged in the process and will keep you informed as information develops.

CDFW Releases Policy for Mountain Lion Take Outside Central Coast, Southern California
On Friday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released its policy for issuing mountain lion depredation take permits outside of the Central Coast and Southern California (where the species is currently listed as a candidate for threatened species protections under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). While the “Statewide Mountain Lion Depredation Approach” has not been posted on CDFW’s public website, it is available on the CCA website here.

The take policy for mountain lions outside the CESA candidacy zone is the same as the policy outlined by CCA in May’s Hot Irons and various editions of Legislative Bulletin: in short, CDFW will only issue non-lethal take permits upon a first mountain lion depredation, and may issue a lethal take permit upon a second or subsequent depredations. Importantly, the Departmental Memo now formalizes the policy shared with CCA in May.

The memo does clarify some elements of the take policy. For instance, the memo directs that the Regional Manager has final authority over whether a lethal take permit issues, and outlines that in making that determination the Regional Manager can consider “regional or local research and lion population dynamics, local sentiments, media attention, or other unique circumstances before rendering the final decision.”

The memo also reiterates that any rancher who catches a mountain lion in the act of pursuing, injuring or killing livestock may lethally take the mountain lion so long as that take is reported to CDFW.

For mountain lions in the Central Coast and Southern California, take permits will be issued pursuant to CDFW’s “three-strike” policy as expanded throughout that region on February 13, though CDFW has clarified to CCA that that ‘pursuit-only’ permits are unlikely to issue, and that permits issued in response to a first depredation will likely include additional non-lethal take measures beyond mere pursuit (for instance, the authorized use of non-lethal ammunition such as rubber bullets or bean-bag rounds). Again, mountain lions caught-in-the-act may be immediately lethally taken so long as that take is reported to CDFW.

Hours of Service Exemptions for Livestock Haulers Extended Through August 14
As previously reported by CCA, on March 18 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an Expanded Emergency Declaration exempting livestock haulers from compliance with the federal Hours of Service rules that limit drive time. Under the Emergency Declaration, Hours of Service rest requirements remain in effect, meaning that once a driver returns to his or her “normal reporting location,” that individual must still receive a minimum of 10 hours of off-duty rest.

After multiple prior extensions, the Emergency Declaration had been scheduled to expire tomorrow. Earlier today, however, the FMCSA extended the Emergency Declaration through midnight on August 14 for certain freight, including livestock and livestock feed. Under the modifications to the Declaration, only finished feed products remain exempt from the ordinary Hours of Service regulation; ingredients used in feed product are not exempt from Hours of Service rules. Indeed, most freight exempted under the March 18 Declaration are no longer exempt: in addition to livestock and livestock feed, only medical supplies and safety equipment needed to prevent and treat COVID-19 remain exempt.

In response to FMCSA’s March action, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order also exempting haulers engaged in intrastate or interstate transportation from California’s Hours of Service regulations. California’s exemption remains in effect as long as FMCSA’s Declaration remains in effect.

CCA will keep you informed of any further developments regarding Hours of Service regulations for hauling livestock.

Cattlemen’s Beef Board Now Accepting Producer Nominations
Interested in helping shape the beef checkoff? Now is your chance to get involved! The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking nominees for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board now through August 12, with a seat opening for the Southwest Unit (California and Nevada).

The Board is authorized by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 and is made up of 101 members representing 34 separate states, four units of geographically grouped states and one importer unit.

Any beef producer who owns cattle may be nominated. Producers must be nominated by a USDA certified producer organization (including CCA) and submit a completed application. USDA will select appointees from the nominated producers.

Interested California producers should express their interest in serving to Morgan in the CCA office at morgan@calcattlemen.org without delay. To learn more about the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and being nominated, click here.

Industry News

Prescribed burns, cattle grazing aid in fire reduction AgAlert “As catastrophic wildfires continue to plague California, renewed interest in and support for prescribed burning has made more funding available for groups to plan and carry out controlled fires to reduce fire hazards.” To continue reading, click here.

USDA invests $27M in first wave of foot-and-mouth vaccine bank spending Agri-Pulse “Livestock producers are welcoming the first ‘significant purchase’ of foot-and-mouth disease vaccine by the Department of Agriculture to stockpile a new vaccine bank.” To continue reading, click here.

UCCE leads development of prescribed burn association Morning AgClips “With a $379,785 grant from CAL FIRE, UC Cooperative Extension and the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County are spearheading a community effort to create a prescribed burn association along California’s Central Coast region.” To continue reading, click here.

Upcoming Events

Please stay tuned to updates on social media and in CCA publications for the status of upcoming events and livestock sales as situations continue to change due to the impacts of COVID-19.

July/August Magazine Cover

California Cattleman

The 2020 Bull Buyer’s Guide is out! Read the new July/August issue here.

Throughout this issue you will see advertisements from reputable purebred beef producers who can provide genetics that will propel your cowherd into the future. As you consider adding to your bull battery this fall, outstanding breeders from across the state can supply you with the traits you are seeking.

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