Are You Able to Assist CCA Members Hard-Hit by Fires?
Last week, CCA was approached by a member hard-hit by the SCU Lightning Complex Fires that tore through the Bay Area in August and September. The fires burnt through the entire ranch—roughly 3,500 acres. “We have lost every bit of winter feed,” the member writes. “We are in desperate need of winter pasture for approx. 100 spring-calving cows.”
If any CCA members should have pasture availability for 100 cows, please contact Kirk Wilbur in the CCA office.
Additionally, CCA understands that many other members may be struggling to find available forage given this year’s devastating fires. Should you have pasture/forage availability or if you’re seeking pasture for your cattle, feel free to contact CCA. While we cannot guarantee forage solutions for CCA members, we are committed to doing everything in our power to accommodate the needs of California ranchers during this unprecedented fire year.
California Voters Reject Proposition 15
On November 10, one week after polls closed on Election Day, the Associated Press officially projected the defeat of Proposition 15. “No” votes eclipses “yes” votes by a margin of more than 550,000 at the time of AP’s call, and that gulf has only widened in the six days since, with the vote margin standing at more than 650,000 votes—or just shy of 4% of all votes—as of press time.
Proposition 15 had sought to roll back property tax limitations enshrined in 1978’s Proposition 13 by taxing commercial properties at current market value. The measure would have increased property taxes statewide by $11.5 billion. While proponents noted that agricultural land would be exempt from increased property taxes, Proposition 15 would have increased taxes on agricultural buildings and improvements: barns, feedlots, and even fruit trees or vines would have incurred significantly higher taxes. CCA strongly opposed Proposition 15 and mounted a robust public outreach campaign to defeat the tax increase in the months leading up to the election.
And the efforts of California’s farmers and ranchers paid off! According to Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable and co-chair of the No on Prop 15 campaign, “From day one, we knew that if voters understood the harm this deeply flawed tax hike would impose on California’s economy and its families, farmers and small businesses, voters would reject this ill-advised effort.” CCA and farmers and ranchers throughout the state played an essential role in educating California voters about the Proposition’s potentially devastating consequences: forcing ranching families out of business, incentivizing development of open space and increasing food prices for California consumers.
By rejecting Proposition 15, California voters avoided those dire consequences. CCA thanks ranchers throughout the state for their grassroots efforts to marshal opposition to the flawed tax proposal.
Purchase Tickets Now for the LMRF Raffle
‘Tis the season: CCA’s Livestock Memorial Research Fund (LMRF) is now selling tickets for its annual trailer raffle with all proceeds going to the LMRF scholarship fund. This year’s grand prize trailer is a 2021 18’ Swift Built Steel Gooseneck Livestock Trailer and the reserve prize is a utility/ATV trailer. The prizes for this year’s raffle have once again been generously donated by American Ag Credit, CoBank and Farm Credit West.
Raffle tickets are $100 per ticket or $250 for three tickets and can be purchased by calling the CCA office at (916) 444-0845. A virtual drawing to select the winners will take place on Dec. 29. Tickets must be received at the CCA office by Dec. 22 to be eligible to be entered. Best of luck to all who purchase tickets and thank you for supporting the upcoming leaders of California’s cattle industry.
Election Results Still Coming into Focus Two Weeks After Election Day
As California continues to tally the votes from the November 3 general election, a few races remain too close to call. As of press time, approximately 95% of ballots statewide had been tabulated (it is unknown exactly how many ballots remain outstanding, as California law allows ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 to be received as late as Nov. 20). Below is a recap of the election based on information available as of November 16.
As discussed in more detail above, California voters rejected Proposition 15, which would have increased commercial property taxes by more than $11.5 billion.
On Wednesday night—eight days after Election Day—the Associated Press announced that California voters had approved Proposition 19. Proposition 19 will allow Californians who are over 55, disabled or who are the victims of wildfires or other natural disasters to transfer the tax base of their primary residence to a replacement residence, and will require a tax reassessment for an inherited residence not used as the inheritor’s primary residence. CCA took no position on Proposition 19, but urged members to carefully consider its purported “Expan[sion of] tax benefits for transfers of family farms.” As of press time, the “yes” votes on Proposition 19 had an advantage of approximately 340,000 votes, leading by a margin of 51.1% to 48.9%.
In the California State Assembly, Republicans will gain a seat, though Democrats will continue to enjoy a supermajority in the lower chamber.
Democrats have gained at least two seats in the state’s upper chamber, with Democratic challenger Dave Min and Josh Newman defeating Republican incumbent Senators John Moorlach and Ling Ling Chang, respectively. Races in Senate Districts 21 and 23 remain quite close as of press time, with the Republican candidate in each race holding the lead.
In Washington, D.C., Democrats will continue to hold a majority in the House of Representatives, though that majority has narrowed with Republicans picking up at least six House seats as of press time. In California, Republican challengers have regained at least two seats that flipped Democratic in the 2018 “blue wave” midterm election. Last Tuesday, Rep. Harley Rouda conceded defeat to Republican challenger Michelle Steel in California’s 48th Congressional District, and on Friday incumbent Democrat Gil Cisneros conceded to challenger Young Kim in the District 39 race.
A third potential Republican pickup among California’s Congressional delegation remains too close to call as of press time, with former Republican Congressman David Valadao 2,065 votes ahead as he seeks to reclaim his former District 21 seat from incumbent Democrat TJ Cox. The result of the race may not be known for at least another week, with the Kings County Election Department announcing that it will halt its Election canvass operations until Saturday, November 21 due to concerns regarding a COVID-19 exposure.
In California’s 25th Congressional District, Republican Mike Garcia—who won a May 12 special election for the seat vacated by the resignation of Democratic Representative Katie Hill—was leading Democratic challenger Christy Smith by a mere 104 votes as of press time.
Also of note in California’s Congressional elections, former Congressman Darrel Issa has won the House seat vacated by Duncan Hunter, keeping the 50th District in Republican control.
An important House committee will experience a shakeup as a consequence of this year’s election: House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN7) lost his bid for reelection, meaning that the Ag Committee will see new leadership in the 117th Congress. Fresno-area Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA16) has announced his candidacy for the chairmanship, as has Rep. David Scott (D-GA13). On Thursday, a broad coalition of more than 60 California agricultural organizations—including CCA—wrote to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging Costa’s appointment to the post.
Control of the Senate remains unclear, with both Senate races in Georgia set for a January 5, 2021 runoff election after incumbent Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both failed to secure at least 50% of the vote. If one or both incumbents win, Republicans will retain control of the Senate. If Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both win their elections, the Senate will be split 50-50 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting any tie-breaking votes.
Even in that worst-case-scenario for Republicans, however, it should be noted that moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV) has gone on record as opposing many legislative priorities of the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party (such as ‘packing’ the Supreme Court by increasing its size from nine to 13 justices). In short, regardless of the final composition of the Senate, the upper chamber will likely be a moderating influence on federal policy over the next two years.
CCA will continue to provide updates as outstanding votes are tallied and election results become more certain.
Interior Secretary Bernhardt Reins in GAO Act with Secretarial Order
In August, the Great American Outdoors (GAO) Act was signed into law over the objections of livestock groups like CCA and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. As we wrote in Legislative Bulletin then, “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.”
Prior to the GAO Act’s implementation, Congress would annually evaluate proposed federal land acquisitions for funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and would determine the appropriate level of funding for acquisitions during the appropriations process. Under the GAO Act, however, the federal government automatically receives $360 million in mandatory annual funding for the purchase of lands throughout the country.
Fortunately, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt early last week issued a Secretarial Order that could minimize the negative repercussions of the GAO Act. The Order requires that “A written expression of support by both the affected Governor and local county…is required for the acquisition of land, water, or an interest in land or water” under the LWCF. The Order also requires that “All acquisitions…must occur with voluntary, willing sellers.”
CCA’s national affiliates were quick to praise Secretary Bernhardt’s move. “States and local stakeholders know best what their communities need and should be directly involved in these decisions,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “Ranchers appreciate Secretary Bernhardt’s work to make certain LWCF cannot be used as a tool for rampant, unchecked acquisitions that would compromise the health of Western landscapes and federal agencies’ ability to manage the lands and waters already under their purview.”
University of Wyoming Seeks Participants in Non-Fee Grazing Costs Study
CCA is working closely with researchers at the University of Wyoming (UW) to analyze the non-fee costs of grazing livestock on public lands (the research is funded by CCA-affiliate the Public Lands Council). A random sample of permittees was selected to participate in California and a research packet for the study should have been received earlier this fall. If you were one of those permittees who received the UW survey, CCA encourages you to participate in this study.
Non-fee grazing costs research first began in the 1960s and extended into the 1990s but has not been updated in 20 years. The current project will provide an update on differences in total cost of grazing livestock on private and public land over time (or note if no real change has occurred). The information gained from this research could be used to develop a trend in total costs that can be used for future research and policy.
In order to fully compare federal vs. privately-leased land, this study is also looking for individuals who lease private land for livestock grazing. If you lease privately-owned rangeland to graze cattle, please contact Kasey Dollerschell (whose information is listed below).
One benefit of this study is that it provides CCA and PLC hard data to combat radical environmentalists’ slander that public lands ranchers are ‘welfare ranchers’ based on their willful disregard of the time, money and other resources that ranchers put into improving our public lands. That data is useful in engaging Congress, federal land management agencies and the public on the extra costs involved with grazing livestock on federal land.
If you received the research packet or graze on privately-leased land and are willing to assist CCA by participating in this research, please contact Kasey Dollerschell, the UW graduate student spearheading the study, via email at email@example.com or via phone at (970) 589-9339. Kasey has a quick survey that can be filled out over the phone or sent out and returned via mail or email.
BQA Refresher Webinar Happening Thursday
For beef producers who have previously been Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified, it’s important to dust off your notes from time to time and ensure your practices are still in-line with current BQA standards. This Thursday, November 19 from 6:00-7:00PM, the California Beef Council (CBC) is hosting a virtual webinar to serve as a BQA refresher course.
During this webinar, Dr. Gaby Maier, Beef Cattle Herd Health & Production Specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and Dr. James Oltjen, Animal Management Systems Specialist at UC Davis, will provide a deeper dive into some emerging issues, including current carcass quality issues, record keeping guidelines, and a review of available record keeping software and tools that today’s beef producer may find useful. Moderated by the CBC’s Jill Scofield, this one-hour webinar will be the first in a series of BQA-focused virtual events for California producers.
To register for the free event, click here.
“Sustainable Management of California’s Fire-Prone Landscapes: Using Grazing to Help Keep Communities Safe” Workshop Series Ends Thursday
The final workshop of the California Range Management Advisory Committee and the California Fire Science Consortium’s “Sustainable Management of California’s Fire-Prone Landscapes” series will take place this Thursday, Nov. 19 from 10:00AM-12:00PM.
The first two workshops in the series were held over the past two weeks. The final workshop in the trio happening on Thursday is “Organizing Community-Based Wildland Fuels Management Projects: Approaches and Examples.” The speakers for this week’s workshop are Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension and Elaina Cromer, match.graze; Fadzayi Mashiri, UC Cooperative Extension; and Matthew Shapero, UC Cooperative Extension.
Following the workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in an hour of virtual networking with a panel from the Great Plains Prescribed Burn Association.
To register for the workshops and learn more, click here. Contact Edith Hannigan at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the workshops.
Ranch Water Quality Planning Guide Released
The Ranch Water Quality Plan Instructor’s Guide is now available through the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Publications Catalogue and on the UC Rangelands Website, including the associated instructional and educational videos curated on YouTube. Click here to see an overview video of the Ranch Water Quality Planning Guide.
The online and PDF presentation of these materials is the next evolution of the Ranch Water Quality Planning program, based upon the more than 30 years of research and education conducted by UC Cooperative Extension and partners. The Guide provides the resources and tools to plan and implement Ranch Water Quality Planning workshops and field days for grazing livestock producers, agency staff, and other stakeholders interested in grazing management and water quality.
These new resources provide a wealth of contemporary information about water quality management on rangelands.
For questions and additional information please contact Morgan Doran- email@example.com, David Lewis- firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ken Tate- email@example.com.