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From Headquarters

President Trump Signs One-Week Continuing Resolution
Last Friday, President Trump signed into law a one-week continuing resolution (CR) which funds the federal government through this Friday, December 18.

The CR extends the following provisions of interest to the livestock sector through Friday:

  • Commodity Credit Corporation reimbursement for payments made under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program;
  • Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) (CCA affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association expects that the final spending package currently being negotiated in Congress will extend LMR through September 30, 2021); and
  • Electronic Logging Device delay for livestock haulers.

The CR provides Congress another week to negotiate an omnibus spending package and COVID-19 relief legislation. CCA will keep members apprised of legislative developments impacting livestock producers.

USDA Finalizes GIPSA Rule
On Friday, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service issued a Final Rule, “Undue and Unreasonable Preferences and Advantages Under the Packers and Stockyards Act,” also known as the GIPSA Rule.

The regulation establishes four criteria for the Secretary of Agriculture to consider when deciding whether a packer “has made or given any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person or locality” in violation of the Packers and Stockyard Act. Those criteria include whether the preference or advantage:

  • Cannot be justified on the basis of a cost savings related to dealing with different producers, sellers, or growers;
  • Cannot be justified on the basis of meeting a competitor’s prices;
  • Cannot be justified on the basis of meeting other terms offered by a competitor; and
  • Cannot be justified as a reasonable business decision.

According to analysis by CCA-affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the final GIPSA Rule is preferable to a 2010 Proposed Rule which would have proved costly to the beef industry. Given that Secretary Vilsack—who was Secretary of Agriculture at the time of the 2010 Proposed Rule—is set to reprise his role as Agriculture Secretary under the incoming Biden Administration, NCBA will be encouraging the new administration to leave the Final Rule in place.

The Final Rule is set to take effect on January 10, 2021.

One Week Left: 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 this week.

CCA Slates New Officer Team, Hosts Virtual Convention
Earlier this month, 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 Dec. 4, 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 Beverly Bigger of Ventura County Cattlemen’s Association now 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.”

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.

Producers Encouraged to Participate in KSU Grazing Management Survey
The U.S. beef industry protects natural resources and biodiversity while simultaneously feeding the world. But as you know, the world does not always recognize all the great work producers do, with activists and others working to create a negative impression of the beef industry. Your assistance is needed to correct that impression. You are invited to complete a short, anonymous survey designed to gain new information on the current adoption and use of grazing management plans in the U.S. beef industry.

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.

To take the survey, click here.

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.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Ashley McDonald at amcdonald@beef.org or Cassie Aherin at Kansas State University at cly2652@ksu.edu.

CCA in the News

Legal Ledger Brief: Comments sought for PRF Program Western Livestock Journal “‘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,’ the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) said in their legislative newsletter.” To continue reading, click here.

Industry News

Ranchers Ready To Work With Tom Vilsack As USDA Secretary Public Lands Council “‘Livestock producers have a long history of working with Former Secretary Vilsack at the Department of Agriculture. Few have the breadth and depth of experience he has in facing issues confronting multiple sectors of our industry. This experience will serve him well as the country and our producers work to recover from the unexpected challenges brought by 2020,’ said PLC President Niels Hansen. ‘As Secretary, he will have the opportunity to utilize grazing as an effective management tool, and we are ready to work with him in this familiar role to show him all of the benefits livestock grazing bring to our nation’s public lands.” To continue reading, click here.

Can ‘fire hardening’ solve California’s home insurance crisis? CalMatters “A program that incentivizes homeowners to mitigate wildfire risk through insurance discounts would be a win-win for insurers and consumers. Creating one is the hard part.” To continue reading, click here.

USDA Forest Service proposes new wildfire prevention directives for power lines Daily Energy Insider “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has proposed two directives addressing the safety and reliability of powerline operations therein to better protect national forests and grasslands.” To continue reading, click here.

Groups blast Trump logging plan aimed at reducing wildfires MSN “Conservation groups are blasting a Trump administration decision officials said will reduce wildfires by streamlining environmental reviews of timber salvage projects.” To continue reading, click here.

Dec. Magazine Cover

California Cattleman

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