SWRCB Releases List of Delinquent Filers for Annual Water Diversion and Use Reports
Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) released its annual deficiency list of water right holders who have thus far failed to file their annual water diversion and use reports for calendar year 2019 as required by SB 88 (2015). The deficiency list is available here and contains more than 4,500 delinquent filers organized alphabetically by county.
Under SB 88, all water rights holders are required to annually report their diversion and use of water to the SWRCB. For appropriative water rights holders (e.g. stock pond certificates, stock pond registrations, licenses and applications), the deadline for such reports is April 1 of each year. For those diverting pursuant to a water rights statement (e.g. pre-1914 and riparian rights), the deadline for such reports is July 1 of each year.
Under California Water Code section 1846, the SWRCB may fine non-filers up to $500 per day for each day in which the violation occurs—that is, for each day between the filing deadline and the submittal of the annual report. CCA recommends that all members review the deficiency list and take corrective action as soon as possible if their name appears on the list. While the filing deadlines have passed, corrective action may avoid an enforcement action altogether and/or minimize any penalty assessed by the Water Board.
Reports must be made electronically using the SWRCB’s Water Right Form and Survey Submittal Portal. If you need assistance filing your report, contact the SWRCB’s Division of Water Rights directly at (916) 323-9393. For further information, contact Kirk Wilbur at the CCA office at (916) 444-0845.
Updates on USFS, BLM Closure Orders and Other Restrictions
Last week, the Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) of the U.S. Forest Service issued new regional orders related to the ongoing wildfire emergency in the state. Regional Order No. 20-18 extends the general prohibition on the use of ignition sources on all National Forest lands within California, but adds a new exception for Developed Recreation Sites, where the use of “a portable lantern or stove using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel” is now permitted.
Regional Order No. 20-20 extends the full closures of the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests (closure orders for the Klamath and Six Rivers National Forests were lifted on Thursday, with Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests opening the following day). Both regional orders are effective through Thursday, October 8, though CCA expects the orders will again be extended in some form at that time (the Region 5 office has stated that it will re-evaluate its closure orders daily based on current conditions).
CCA staff has been in regular contact with US Forest Service leadership at the regional headquarters in Vallejo and has been assured by the Region 5 office that the closure of these four National Forests does not apply to livestock grazing permittees. As with the prior closure orders, Regional Order No. 20-20 exempts “Persons with a Forest Service non-special-use written authorization to conduct non-recreational activities, such as…grazing livestock.” According to John Exline, the Region 5 Director for Ecosystem Management, any permittees “that may be directly affected by on-going fires… should be working with their respective range administrators and local line officers” regarding access on the closed forests.
According to Exline, the 14 forests that no longer fall under the closure order “will be issuing any specific geographic closures for their individual forests if warranted by the Forest Supervisor.” Permittees should not assume that all or any specific portion of a national forest is open merely because that forest does not appear on the regional closure order. Indeed, most national forests not covered by Regional Order No. 20-20 have issued partial closure orders for areas impacted by wildfire or at continued risk of wildfire. CCA urges permittees to carefully review applicable forest closure orders by visiting the forest’s website, contacting your range administrator or contacting the CCA office.
The Bureau of Land Management’s California State Office has also issued a statewide order prohibiting campfires and all open flames on BLM-managed lands within the state. All statewide, district and field area closures and restrictions can be viewed here.
If you are a permittee with questions or concerns about USFS or BLM closures, or if you have any other wildfire concerns with which CCA staff can assist you, please contact the CCA office at (916) 444-0845.
Legislation Introduced to Improve Marketing Environment for Cattle Producers
On Thursday, Congressman Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced the Price Reform in Cattle Economics (PRICE) Act in the House of Representatives. The PRICE Act contains numerous provisions intended to improve the marketing environment for cattle producers, including policy that CCA and CCA affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) supported in a June 30 letter to Congress urging further action in response to the market impacts of COVID-19. Among other provisions, the PRICE Act would:
- Provide small and very small meat processors financial relief from overtime and holiday fees paid to federal meat inspectors, increasing overall processing capacity;
- Allow the interstate sale of state-inspected meat when purchased online;
- Authorize federally-guaranteed loans and federal grants for the construction of new meat processing facilities or the expansion of existing meat processing facilities;
- Require USDA’s Chief Economist to study the feasibility of cash market mandates such as the “30/14” and “50/14” proposals; and
- Authorize emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acreage during pandemics, including COVID-19.
A section-by-section breakdown of the PRICE Act can be found at Congressman Johnson’s website, here, and a more detailed breakdown of the legislation will be included in the October 15 edition of CCA’s Hot Irons newsletter. NCBA continues to work closely with Congressman Johnson’s office regarding the PRICE Act, and CCA will keep you informed of any developments as the bill makes its way through the legislative process.
Legislation Introduced to Provide Additional Hours of Service Flexibility
Last Tuesday, Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) introduced S. 4720, the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act. The legislation would provide livestock haulers additional relief from existing Hours of Service regulations.
Specifically, the HAULS Act seeks to add a 150 air-mile exemption to Hours of Service regulations on the back end of hauls for transporters of livestock and agricultural commodities. The 150 air-mile backend exemption would be in addition to the current 150 air-mile exclusion that applies to the front end of hauls. Both the existing front-end exemption and the proposed back-end exemption are intended to give farmers and ranchers additional time to safely navigate rural roads and seek to ensure animal welfare when livestock are being hauled.
The HAULS Act would also apply the agricultural exemption to the Hours of Service regulations year-round and nationwide. Currently, each state is responsible for determining when the agricultural exemption is applicable based on state-defined planting and harvesting periods. While California has adopted a year-round planting and harvesting period, there is significant variation among planting and harvesting periods nationwide.
(The above provisions are substantially similar to those included in H.R. 4919, The Responsible and Efficient Agriculture Destination (TREAD) Act, introduced last November and co-sponsored by California Congressmen John Garamendi and Doug LaMalfa. The TREAD Act has not progressed in the House.)
Finally, the HAULS Act expands the definition of an “agricultural commodity” eligible for the agricultural exemption to the hours-of-service rules. While livestock falls under the existing definition, the HAULS Act would expand the definition of “agricultural commodity” to include animal feed and the ingredients used in animal feed, among other products.
In other Hours of Service news, on Wednesday President Trump signed H.R. 8337, a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through December 11. The Continuing Resolution contains a provision maintaining the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) delay for livestock haulers through December 11.
Numerous Efforts Underway to Improve Federal Endangered Species Management
As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has in recent months proposed two regulations intended to reform the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The first of these proposals was a regulatory definition of “habitat,” which USFWS proposed to limit in part to “areas with existing attributes that have the capacity to support individuals of the species” (CCA submitted comments on the proposed rule on September 4). The second proposed rule concerns how USFWS will determine which lands should be excluded from critical habitat designations made under the ESA, including when federal lands may be excluded from critical habitat designations (CCA will be submitting comments generally in favor of the proposed rule prior to the Thursday deadline).
In addition to these regulatory efforts to reform the ESA, in recent weeks there has been movement on two major bills intended to make statutory improvements to the ESA.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed S. 3051, the America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act. The ACE Act would provide payments to ranchers who experience livestock depredations by federally protected endangered and threatened species and would authorize funding for producers to implement non-lethal deterrence measures. Additionally, the ACE Act would provide funding to improve invasive species control, seeks to develop innovative ways to reduce human/predator conflict and establishes a task force to address Chronic Wasting Disease concerns. The ACE Act is currently awaiting President Trump’s signature.
The second of these measures is the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020 (S. 4589), introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), which seeks to make statutory improvements to the ESA. The Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020 would:
- Recognize voluntary conservation measures undertaken by ranchers and other landowners, and factor those voluntary measures into ESA determinations and recovery plans;
- Establish a prioritization system for listing petitions and other regulatory matter based on the urgency of a species’ circumstances, conservation efforts, and available data;
- Empower states to lead recovery planning efforts for listed threatened and endangered species; and
- Reauthorize the ESA for the first time in thirty years, increasing appropriations for the ESA by roughly 15% and focusing that funding on recovery plan implementation and voluntary conservation efforts by private landowners.
CCA will keep members apprised of any developments on these regulatory and legislative proposals to improve federal endangered species management.
Less than One Month to Election Day, Vote No on Prop 15!
As ballots begin to hit mailboxes, CCA continues to urge you to vote no on Proposition 15, and reminds you to keep sharing with your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc., about the devastating impacts the measure could have not just on farmers and ranchers, but on all Californians if passed!
To engage you in this grassroots effort, DefeatProp15.com has been set up to be a resource for you to use now until election day. The website has information specific to the impact this proposition will have on agriculture if passed, as well as links to the No On Prop 15 coalition’s website for explanations of other flaws the measure has.
Visit the site today to get more information and find ways you can engage in the efforts to defeat Prop 15.
UCANR Autumn 2020 Beef Production Webinar Series Begins Tomorrow
Tomorrow, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources kicks off their Autumn 2020 Beef Production Webinar Series, hosting the first of six webinars focused on cattle production and targeted grazing in the series happening throughout October.
The first webinar taking place at 6 pm tomorrow (Tuesday, October 6), is titled “Introduction to Targeted Grazing” and will be hosted by UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor Dan Macon.
“This webinar will provide an overview of targeted grazing, including grazing management, picking the right grazer for the job, livestock management, and customer relations,” according to the announcement on the Ranching in the Sierra Foothill’s website.
Registration is required and the cost to attend is $10. Although tomorrow’s webinar has a small fee to attend, the Tahoe Cattlemen’s Association has sponsored four of the upcoming webinars, making attendance for those events completely free.
To learn more about each webinar—including dates, topics and speakers—and to register for any of the events, click here.
USDA FSA Offers Wildfire Recovery Assistance
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.
Round 2 of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Available
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) intended to provide as much as $14 billion in additional financial assistance to farmers and ranchers hard-hit by the market impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA will accept applications until December 11, 2020. Applications can be submitted online at www.farmers.gov/cfap/apply or via your county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office (click here to find contact information for your county FSA office in California).
“CFAP 2” is a separate program from the first round of CFAP. The original round of CFAP payments was intended to provide producers relief from market disruptions that occurred by April 15; CFAP 2 is intended to provide relief from ongoing market disruptions since April 15. The original round of CFAP payments has no bearing on CFAP 2, and as such ranchers may apply for CFAP 2 even if they received relief payments under the original round of CFAP. Additionally, ranchers who missed the deadline to apply for the first round of CFAP are nevertheless eligible to apply for CFAP 2.
Under CFAP 2, beef producers are eligible to receive $55 per head of cattle based on the highest inventory of eligible cattle owned between April 16 and August 31, 2020 (breeding stock and culled cows are ineligible for payment under CFAP 2). Because CFAP 2 is a distinct program from CFAP 1, an animal for which a producer received a CFAP 1 payment remains eligible for a CFAP 2 payment if that animal was retained during the April 16-August 31 period.
(To find rates for agricultural commodities other than beef cattle, view the “Commodity Eligibility for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2” section at www.farmers.gov/cfap.)
With limited exceptions, an individual or legal entity is limited to $250,000 in total payments for all eligible commodities under CFAP 2. Again, this payment limitation is separate from the payment limitation under CFAP 1. (Producers will also have to certify that they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities.)
More information on CFAP 2 can be found here, and information focused on the livestock sector can be found here. USDA has also provided an FAQ for the program here, and CCA-affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has an FAQ for beef producers here.
CCA and its national affiliates remain committed to seeking full relief for beef producers impacted by the market impacts of COVID-19. For any additional questions about CFAP 2, please contact the CCA office at (916) 444-0845.