Grazing Permittees Exempt from Recent U.S. Forest Service Closures
Yesterday, the Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) of the U.S. Forest Service issued a press release announcing the closure of eight National Forests throughout the state of California. The closures, along with other precautions, are aimed at combatting the ongoing wildfire crisis throughout the state and ensuring the safety of National Forest visitors.
Shortly after the announcement was made, the Region 5 office reached out to CCA staff to clarify that these closures do not apply to livestock grazing permittees. According to John Exline, the Region 5 Director for Ecosystem Management, “these orders do not apply to those with active grazing permits except for those that may be directly affected by on-going fires. Those permittees should be working with their respective range administrators and local line officers.”
The National Forests closed by the order are the Angeles, Cleveland, Inyo, Los Padres, San Bernardino, Sequoia, Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests. In addition to closing those eight forests, Region 5 has prohibited the use of any ignition sources on National Forest lands statewide and has closed campgrounds throughout the state. These closures went into effect at 5:00pm yesterday, and will remain in effect until further notice, subject to daily re-evaluation.
As the Region 5 press release puts it, “Most of California remains under the threat of unprecedented and dangerous fire conditions with a combination of extreme heat, significant wind events, dry conditions, and firefighting resources that are stretched to the limit.” These factors—and more than 12,000 lightning strikes over the past three weeks—have resulted in more than 2 million acres burned statewide as of Monday, an unfortunate record for a California fire season.
If you are a permittee with questions or concerns about the Forest Service’s closures, or if you should have any other wildfire concerns with which CCA staff can assist you, please contact the CCA office at (916) 444-0845.
CCA Proposition 15 Tele-Town Hall Meeting Tonight
As you may know or have read in the September issue of the California Cattleman, CCA is doing a full-court press to try to defeat Proposition 15 on this November’s ballot. To engage you in this grassroots effort, we are hosting a tele-town hall meeting TONIGHT at 7. At the start of the meeting, CCA will call all members that have phone numbers on file. To ensure participation, you may also join the meeting by calling in. To receive access information call the CCA office at (916) 444-0845.
On the call we will provide an update on the campaign, discuss what you can expect between now and election day and explain how you can play a role in helping defeat the largest tax increase in state history!
Foothill Abortion Vaccine Now Available to Cattle Ranchers
After decades of research, money and hopes being poured into finding a vaccine for Epizootic Bovine Abortion (EBA), commonly known as Foothill Abortion Disease, a vaccine is now available for producers to obtain through veterinarians. The announcement was made by Hygieia Biological Laboratories (Hygieia) on September 3rd after the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Center for Veterinary Biologics gave conditional approval for the vaccine to become commercially available.
“The news that Hygieia has received a conditional license to provide EBA vaccine to California’s beef producers is amazing, as this disease is responsible for millions of dollars in losses to California beef producers annually,” said Tom Talbot, a veterinarian and past CCA President.
“As a veterinary student many years ago, I spent time working for researchers who were confident they would be the ones that would provide a solution for this disease,” Talbot said. “Little did I know at the time that it would be several decades later before this day would actually arrive. Congratulations to all of those who had a role in this endeavor.”
Due to the lengthy process it takes to develop a new vaccine, it is not uncommon for new products with no existing substitutes, such as the EBA vaccine, to first enter the market with a conditional license. With CCA’s support, the vaccine has been on experimental trial since 2015 and has remained as one of the Association’s top research priorities for decades.
“This license to produce EBA vaccine is the result of many years of hard work by CCA, UC Davis, Dr. Jeffrey Stott, Myra Blanchard and Hygieia,” CCA President Mark Lacey said. “Additionally, a large investment was made to help develop this vaccine by our Livestock Memorial Research Fund. I commend the members of that committee for their fundraising efforts and commitment to the goal of creating a vaccine that will benefit our members.”
In addition to the investments CCA and its members have made, efforts by the University of California and the University of Nevada, Reno have been vital in leading to this vaccine.
According to Hygieia’s announcement, the vaccine is available in 30-dose vials and can be given to open animals of 6 months of age and older, at least 60 days prior to the initiation of breeding. To learn more about the vaccine, email Jenna Chandler at email@example.com.
Recovery Workshops Available for Ranchers Impacted by the SCU Wildfire
The Office of Emergency Management for Santa Clara County has announced three workshops will be held to assist ranchers impacted by the SCU Lightening Complex Wildfires. The announcement of the workshops is posted here and is featured below.
These workshops provide a “one-stop-shop” for resources and information on how to rebuild and recover. Topics include: Federal financial assistance programs, debris and hazardous material cleanup, septic and water/well systems, rebuilding and more. Representatives from involved agencies will be present to answer questions. Please wear your face coverings and honor social distancing for COVID-19.
The three workshops are as follows:
- Wednesday, September 9th at 11:00 a.m. at the Harvey Bear County Park, San Martin. Directions: Just head to the Harvey Bear County Park in San Martin on San Martin Ave., do not go in the main gate but go past it and you will see a gravel driveway that goes back to the barn. Take that gravel drive.
- Monday, September 14th at 6:30 p.m., Costa Alameda Cattlemen’s Association, Pleasanton. For RSVP and location, call (925) 519-9017.
- Wednesday, September 16th at 9:00 a.m. Laird Park, 8520 Grayson Rd., Modesto. Directions: Right on San Joaquin River East of Hwy 33.
Lassen Wolf Pack Responsible for At Least Two More Livestock Depredations
Last week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued two Livestock Loss Determination reports confirming cattle depredations by the Lassen Wolf Pack on August 17 and August 23 (CCA is aware of reports of another confirmed depredation by the Lassen Pack in late August, but a formal report regarding the possible depredation has not yet been published to the CDFW website).
Both depredations occurred on private properties in Southern Lassen County. The August 17 incident had all the hallmarks of a wolf attack. Additionally, “Wolf tracks were observed near the carcass, and wolves were heard howling nearby during the investigation,” according to the investigation report.
The investigation of the August 23 incident began when “a livestock producer observed three wolves (1 adult, two pups) in a pasture containing livestock” and subsequently discovered the carcass of a 700-pound steer. USDA APHIS Wildlife Services and CDFW investigated, determining that the steer had been killed by wolves the prior night. With data from the Lassen Pack’s satellite collars confirming the Pack’s presence between 2am and 6am, CDFW concluded that at least one member of the Lassen Pack had killed the animal.
The full Livestock Loss Determination report for August 17 can be viewed here, and the August 23 report can be viewed here.
USFWS Proposes Rule Regarding Critical Habitat Exclusions
Last Friday, CCA submitted comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) regarding how the term “habitat” should be interpreted under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Today, the USFWS has published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a related rule regarding how the agency will determine which lands should be excluded from critical habitat designations made under Section 4(b)(2) of the ESA.
In addition to applying a new framework for when the agency will conduct an exclusionary analysis, the Proposed Rule creates a process for critical habitat exclusions to be applied on federal land. According to CCA affiliate the Public Lands Council (PLC), “This is a reversal of a 2016 policy that [dictated that] the agency did not typically exclude federal lands from designations of critical habitats.” According to PLC, the Proposed Rule also recognizes that critical habitat designations on federal lands carry costs and other burdens for grazing permittees and others who manage and utilize federal lands, and the Proposed Rule reflects that these burdens on non-federal partners should be factored into the critical habitat analyses.
Today’s publication kicks off a 30-day comment period that will close at 8:59pm Pacific on Thursday, October 8. CCA will carefully review and comment upon the Proposed Rule prior to that date.
LAST CHANCE: CFAP Application Deadline Closes Friday
This Friday, September 11, is the deadline by which agricultural producers affected by the market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic must apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Information on applying for CFAP is available from USDA at www.farmers.gov/cfap and from CCA here.
Additionally, USDA recently announced a significant change regarding its disbursement of 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. Now, however, USDA will automatically issue the remaining 20% of the calculated payment to existing applicants, and new applicants will receive 100% of their total payment upon application approval.
USDA FSA Offers Wildfire Recovery Assistance
As reported in last week’s Legislative Bulletin, amid the current catastrophic wildfire season USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is seeking to highlight its wildfire recovery programs for California’s ranchers and other agricultural producers.
On August 21, FSA released a press release overviewing available wildfire recovery assistance programs offered by the agency, such as the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). The press release also details how producers should document wildfire losses. CCA recommends all members suffering wildfire impacts read the press release in its entirety.
In recent weeks, CCA has received several inquiries regarding the less-well-known FSA Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). ECP provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to help repair land and structures damaged by natural disasters such as wildfire. In particular, ECP funds can be utilized for a variety of fencing projects, including “livestock cross fences, boundary fences, cattle gates, or wildlife exclusion fence on agricultural land.”
FSA recommends that anyone seeking to rebuild fencing or other structures first apply with (or at the very least, notify) their county FSA office before undertaking repair or rebuilding. You can find contact information for your County FSA office here. ECP designations are made by an FSA County Committee, but ranchers can begin the process of applying for ECP assistance even before a county ECP designation is made.
ECP funding can cover up to 75% of total repair/rebuilding costs, not to exceed $500,000, and producers may have the option of receiving an advance of up to 25% of the expected repair costs prior to beginning work.
More information about FSA disaster recovery programs, including ECP, is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/disaster or at the CCA website at calcattlemen.org/fireresources. Additionally, USDA has released a factsheet titled “Disaster at a Glance,” designed to explain what is covered under each USDA disaster program. The factsheet is available here.
Register Today for the Public Lands Council Virtual Annual Meeting
Last month, 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.