Register NOW for the Virtual CCA Board of Directors Meeting on Thursday
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the CCA Summer Board of Directors Meeting has gone virtual this year—but that shouldn’t limit your participation! The virtual meeting will be held via Zoom this Thursday, August 20 at 1 p.m. and CCA encourages you to take part in the meeting.
Agenda items include, but aren’t limited to:
- California Legislative Update
- 2020 Election & Proposition 15
- Live Cattle Market Update
Registration is free, but required. All attendees must register to listen in and ask questions. Contact Katie in the CCA office to register and with any registration questions.
Speak up in Support of Wild Horse Management on the Modoc National Forest
Wild horse populations on the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory of the Modoc National Forest have long been out of control. Though the U.S. Forest Service has set an appropriate management level (AML) on the Devil’s Garden at 204 to 402 horses, the population has substantially exceeded the AML for years; current estimates peg the population at over 2,000 wild horses.
Fortunately, in recent years the USFS has taken steps to manage the population of horses on the Devil’s Garden. In 2019, 499 horses were gathered from the Modoc National Forest, held at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals and offered up for adoption. This year, the Modoc National Forest is proposing to gather another 500 horses. While this will not bring the horses down to the AML, it is a necessary step in the right direction.
Overpopulation can have dire consequences for the horses, which compete for scarce water and forage resources (to say nothing of the dire environmental consequences of overpopulation and the impacts upon resource uses like ranching). Unfortunately, despite overpopulation’s impact on the horses and their humane treatment during and after these gathers, wild horse advocates are mounting a massive campaign in opposition to the gather. According to one source familiar with the planning process, the USFS has already received 6,000 emails opposing the gather, most of them form letters.
To counter these opposition voices, CCA urges members to email the USFS in favor of the proposal to gather 500 wild horses on the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory. Emails should be submitted to the Modoc National Forest at SM.FS.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Potential talking points suggested for your support email include:
- Excess wild horses have a devastating impact on native vegetation and wildlife;
- Wild horse overpopulation has led to reduction in permitted livestock grazing, hurting local ranchers and Modoc County’s agriculture-reliant economy;
- Helicopter/motorized gathers are safe; and
- Managing wild horses closer to AML will improve the health of the wild horse herd and the health of the range.
In addition to email comments, the Modoc National Forest will accept public comment during a virtual meeting on Thursday, August 20 at 4:30pm. More information (including instructions for participating in the virtual meeting) is available here.
USDA Extends CFAP Deadline to September 11
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is extending the deadline for producers to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The new deadline for submitting a CFAP application is September 11 (applications were initially scheduled to close on August 28).
According to CCA affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), there has also been a significant change regarding how USDA is disbursing producers’ CFAP payments. To ensure that available program funds were not depleted before all producers could receive payment, USDA initially remitted only 80% of producers’ calculated CFAP payment, with the other 20% to be paid at a later date. According to NCBA, USDA will now be automatically issuing the remaining 20% of the calculated payment to existing applicants, and new applicants will receive 100% of their total payment upon application approval.
Additional information on applying for CFAP is available from USDA at www.farmers.gov/cfap and from CCA here.
Hours of Service Exemptions for Livestock Haulers Extended Through September 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 on August 14, but last week FMCSA extended the Emergency Declaration another month, through midnight on September 14. The current Emergency Declaration applies to a limited class of 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.
Register Today for the Public Lands Council Virtual Annual Meeting
This weekend, CCA-affiliate the Public Lands Council (PLC) announced that, due to the unprecedented disruptions caused by COVID-19, it will be holding its 2020 Annual Meeting virtually. The meeting will be held Wednesday, September 23 and Thursday, September 24.
“While we are disappointed we will not gather in-person this year, this decision was made to prioritize the health of our members and continue PLC’s long-held commitment to robust policy development processes,” said PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover.
Because this year’s meeting will be held virtually, PLC is able to offer the meeting at no cost. This is a particularly good opportunity for ranchers who have not previously attended the PLC Annual Meeting to get a sense of what the meeting is like, and CCA encourages public lands permittees to register for the event.
You can register for the 2020 PLC Annual Meeting—including General Sessions and Committee Meetings—here.
USFWS Proposes New Definition of “Habitat” Under ESA
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has published a proposed rule to define the term “habitat” under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the first time.
The USFWS proposes to define “habitat” as “The physical places that individuals of a species depend upon to carry out one or more life processes. Habitat includes areas with existing attributes that have the capacity to support individuals of the species.”
While the proposal has been met with predictable alarm from environmental organizations, it is necessitated by the United States Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Weyerhaeuser v. USFWS. Weyerhaeuser concerned critical habitat designation for the dusky gopher frog. In its designation, the USFWS included 1,544 acres of private land in Louisiana that the agency acknowledged could never be inhabited by the species without significant changes to the land, such as prescribed burning and tree repopulation. In Weyerhaeuser, the Supreme Court clarified that land must logically be habitable by a species in order to be designated critical habitat and overturned the USFWS’ designation of critical habitat.
In response to Weyerhaeuser, the USFWS is now proposing to define “habitat” as “areas with existing attributes” sufficient to support a species.
CCA, which filed a “friend of the court” brief in the Weyerhaeuser case, supports USFWS’ efforts to provide clarity over what constitutes “habitat” under the ESA, and will submit comments in support of the proposal prior to the September 4 deadline.
President Trump Signs Great American Outdoors Act into Law
Earlier this month, President Trump signed into law the Great American Outdoors (GAO) Act over opposition from CCA, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Public Lands Council and 45 other livestock groups nationwide.
Livestock groups had opposed the GAO Act for two primary reasons: first, it facilitates significant federal acquisition of land without Congressional oversight of such acquisitions, and second, it is likely to exacerbate maintenance backlogs which already plague federal lands.
Under existing law, Congress annually evaluates proposed federal land acquisitions for funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund during the appropriations process and determines the appropriate level of funding for such acquisitions. Under the GAO Act, however, the federal government will automatically receive $360 million in mandatory funding annually for the purchase of lands throughout the country.
As we wrote in a June 8 letter urging the Senate to reject the bill, “The federal government already owns more than 640 million acres, controlling a vast majority of the American West. More federal ownership is irresponsible, and in some places it will soon be impossible. In Nevada, federal agencies currently own more than 85 percent of the landscape, leaving precious little to support private enterprise.”
Moreover, the GAO Act will exacerbate maintenance backlogs on federally managed lands. A persistent concern of California’s public lands ranchers has been the failure of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to properly repair and maintain roads and other critical infrastructure on our federal lands. While the GAO Act seeks to address this issue by funding maintenance efforts on existing federal lands, it exacerbates the maintenance backlog problem over the long-term.
While CCA is disappointed that the GAO Act has been signed into law, we will continue to work with our affiliate the Public Lands Council to minimize any deleterious impacts of the legislation as it is implemented by the Trump Administration and federal agencies.
Access from AT&T Offering Affordable Internet for Distance Learning
As students across California are beginning to start new school years with distance learning, AT&T is offering an affordable way to stay connected with Internet service through the Access from AT&T program.
AT&T says this program, “is a low-cost program for home internet access in the 21 states where we offer wireline home internet services to limited income households who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in California.”
Additionally, to help with the impacts of COVID-19, AT&T says the Access from AT&T program is temporarily, “expanding eligibility based on income as well as households participating in National School Lunch and Head Start Programs and waiving home internet data overage fees until 9/30/20 (does not apply to DSL).”
Check out this flyer on the program to learn more. Additionally you can visit www.att.com/access or call (855) 220-5211 to learn more.
Apply for a W.D. Farr Scholarship by Sept. 11
Time is running out for graduate students to apply for a W.D. Farr Scholarship from the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. See the following press release from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for application and deadline requirements.
“The National Cattlemen’s Foundation is now accepting applications for the W.D. Farr Scholarships for the 2020-21 school year. Two $15,000 grants will be awarded to outstanding graduate students who demonstrate superior achievement in academics and leadership and are committed to beef industry advancement. The awards will allow the students to further their study in fields that benefit the industry.
‘Deadline for application submission is midnight CT Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
‘The scholarship was established by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation to honor the successful career of the late W.D. Farr. Farr, a third-generation Coloradan, pioneer rancher, statesman and banker was known for his extraordinary vision. His dedication to improving agriculture, livestock and water development has resulted in significant changes in farming methods that have influenced the practices of ranchers and farmers throughout the nation.
‘To apply for the scholarship, graduate students planning to pursue a career in the beef industry should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, description of applicant’s goals and experience, and statement of belief in the industry, as well as a review of the applicant’s graduate research and three letters of recommendation. All applications must be submitted online.
‘The scholarships will be presented at the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 3-5, 2021. For more information and to apply, visit www.nationalcattlemensfoundation.org.”
2020 CCA Scholarship Applications Due Oct. 1
Applications for the 2020 CCA Scholarships are being accepted now through October 1. In 2019, CCA awarded almost $50,000 in scholarships to students studying agriculture, although scholarship amounts and quantities vary year to year.
Current CCA members (producer, feeder or YCC) that are currently enrolled (or accepted for fall 2020) at a university or college are eligible to apply. Past recipients of the CCA scholarship program may also apply again this year. For a complete list of awards and to download the application visit calcattlemen.org/scholarship. Contact Katie in the CCA office at email@example.com with any questions.
Ranchers Encouraged to Complete USDA Survey
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the release of its annual Producer Satisfaction Survey aimed at helping the agency “understand what it is doing well and where improvements are needed, specifically at the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA).”
While 28,000 agricultural producers will receive surveys directly from USDA in the coming weeks, the survey is open to all farmers and ranchers (including those not directly receiving a survey), and USDA is encouraging all farmers and ranchers to complete the survey.
The survey can be accessed at www.farmers.gov/survey.
“We want to hear from our customers so we can learn what we’re doing right and where we’re missing the mark,” USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey said. “Good data is critical to good decision-making. The more responses we receive, the better we can understand what we need to do to improve our services to America’s farmers, ranchers and private forestland owners.”
According to a USDA press release, the survey is 20 questions and “takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.” USDA expects the survey to be open for at least six weeks.