CCA Slates New Officer Team, Hosts Virtual Convention
Last week CCA hosted its 104th Annual Convention consisting of policy meetings, the CCA Board & Membership meeting, a CattleFax Market Update, an outlook on the weather and more, all via Zoom. While a virtual convention wasn’t the preferred option to gather for the annual end of the year event, many members participated, and the business of the Association was handled.
On Friday, as the Association wrapped up its first-ever virtual convention with the CCA Board & Membership meeting, CCA President Mark Lacey also finished out his presidency. When Lacey stepped in as president in November 2018, there was no way of knowing what his term would bring, but he remained strong and led as needed through every challenge and unknown of 2020.
With Lacey’s term ending, Mariposa County cattle rancher Anthony (Tony) Toso moved up from CCA First Vice President and is well-equipped to lead the Association as president for the next two years. In addition to a change in president, after many years of service, CCA Treasurer Rob von der Lieth also concluded his time on the CCA Officer Team, with Bev Bigger of Ventura County Cattlemen’s Association taking on the role.
Additionally, CCA Second Vice President Greg Kuck finished out his two-year term. Steve Arnold of San Luis Obispo County now moves up as CCA First Vice President. Trevor Freitas, who has served in the leadership of CCA’s Feeder Council, and Rick Roberti of Plumas-Sierra Cattlemen’s Association will serve as CCA Second Vice Presidents. John Hammon of Tulare County has one year remaining in his term as CCA Second Vice President.
CCA extends many thanks to all of the outgoing officers for their time and dedication to serving California’s cattle industry and looks forward to a prosperous 2021 with this new team.
Look for more information on this year’s convention meetings to come in the December Hot Irons and in the January 2021 California Cattleman magazine.
BLM Issues Environmental Analysis for Great Basin Fuels Reduction Activities
On November 27, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Fuels Reduction and Rangeland Restoration in the Great Basin, a region that includes portions of northeastern California.
CCA previously reported on the draft PEIS in April and June, urging ranchers “to support BLM’s Preferred Alternative, Alternative B (‘Protect, Conserve, and Restore Sagebrush Communities’), which encourages the use of targeted livestock grazing for fire fuels reduction.” In the final PEIS, BLM has indeed selected Alternative B, which provides the widest array of tools for fuels management and was the only alternative considered which explicitly acknowledged the role that targeted grazing plays in combating hazardous fuels accumulation and managing the prevalence of invasive species.
According to CCA-affiliate the Public Lands Council, “This PEIS does not authorize specific projects… but is the NEPA document that will be the basis for environmental analysis for projects in the coming years. This document is likely to face legal challenges, but none yet have been publicly announced.”
Hours of Service Exemptions for Livestock Haulers Extended Another Two Months
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.
The Emergency Declaration has been extended on numerous occasions, most recently through December 31, 2020. Last Tuesday, however, FMCSA issued an expansion and extension of the modified Emergency Declaration, which expands the hours of service exemption through February 28, 2021.
The current Emergency Declaration applies to a limited class of freight, including livestock and livestock feed. As with previous extensions of the Emergency 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.
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.
LAST CHANCE: CFAP 2 Applications Due by December 11
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.
PRF Comments Due December 21
“There are storm clouds on the horizon for livestock producers who utilize the Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) Pasture, Rangeland and Forage insurance program (PRF),” according to CCA’s partners at AgRisk Advisors.
Without input from the ranching community, RMA commissioned a review of PRF from a third-party contractor with no experience in rangelands or livestock production. Subsequently, RMA issued a series of “Alternative Recommendations” proposing significant changes to the PRF program which, beginning in 2022, would cause PRF to cease functioning as intended as a valuable risk management tool for livestock producers and forage growers.
For producers who already utilize PRF, the Alternative Recommendations would alter those producers’ Coverage Level, Productivity Factor, and Interval selections. RMA suggests disallowing coverage during winter months along with utilizing four-month Intervals, changes which would eliminate PRF’s usefulness as a risk management tool.
Long-term, it is essential that RMA give cattlemen a seat at the table in developing its risk management tools. In the short term, however, these harmful adjustments to PRF are likely to be implemented unless RMA is flooded with comments from impacted producers.
AgRisk Advisors has created a website for producers to easily review this proposal and provide comments to RMA. CCA encourages members to visit www.PRFadvisors.com/savePRF and follow the detailed instructions to provide input to RMA before the December 21 comment deadline.
For more information, contact Kirk Wilbur in the CCA office.
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.
FSA Announces ECP Signups for 41 Counties Impacted by Wildfire
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is currently accepting Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) applications in 41 California counties affected by this year’s wildfires. Applications will be accepted until January 28, 2021.
ECP provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to help repair land and structures damaged by natural disasters such as wildfire. For example, 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 is now accepting ECP applications in Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba counties.
FSA recommends that anyone seeking to utilize the ECP first apply with a county FSA office before undertaking repair or rebuilding, as “FSA’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and environmental compliance review process must be completed before any actions are taken.” You can find contact information for your County FSA office here.
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.
According to an FSA press release, “FSA County Committees will evaluate applications based on information provided and if applicable, an on-site inspection of the damaged land, taking into consideration the type and extent of the damage. Submission of an application does not guarantee that cost-share funding will be provided.”
More information about FSA disaster recovery programs, including ECP, is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/disaster.
All responses will be kept in strict confidence, with the data analysis being released in summary form only with no identifying information included.
The survey should take approximately 20 minutes to complete and includes questions related to your cattle operation and grazing management practices. The study is being conducted by Kansas State University faculty and graduate student researchers.
With your help, the U.S. beef industry will be better positioned to communicate our efforts to produce beef in a sustainable and efficient manner.