To read the full version each week, please subscribe below.

COVID-19 Updates From Headquarters

Congressional COVID Relief Compromise, Omnibus Spending Package Includes CFAP Payments Among Other Provisions for Ranchers
Since the onset of the pandemic, CCA has continued to work closely with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) to ensure that the federal government eliminates any obstacles in the food supply chain and that all producer losses directly associated with COVID-19 are addressed by Congress. Earlier today, the House shared details on a new funding package—$900 billion for COVID-19 relief and $1.4 trillion in appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year—which includes critical provisions for cattle and livestock producers.

The deal includes a new round of direct payments to cattle producers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), with the aid coming from $11 billion designated for use by the Secretary of Agriculture for COVID-19 relief.

While NCBA staff is continuing to analyze the almost-5,600 page ‘‘Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021,’’ below are the key COVID-19 provisions of this bill for California cattle producers, as identified by NCBA and CCA staff.

CFAP for Cattle Producers:
The bill provides additional assistance for cattle producers impacted during the height of the pandemic.

For Slaughter/Fed cattle, Feeder cattle greater than 600 lbs., and Feeder cattle less than 600 lbs., the payment is calculated using the following formula: [(Cattle inventory for the period April 16-May 14 x 50%)(CARES Act Sales Rate – CFAP 1 inventory rate – CFAP 2 inventory rate)].

For example, under regulations implementing the CARES Act, the sales rate for Slaughter/Fed cattle was set at $214. Under CFAP Round 1, a producer could obtain $33/head for inventory held between April 16 and May 14. Under CFAP Round 2, that producer was eligible for another $55/head for those cattle. $214 – $55 – $33 = $126. Because the legislation requires the inventory to be multiplied by 50%, however, this equates to eligibility for $63/head of Slaughter/Fed cattle. (Per-head payments will differ for Feeder cattle greater than 600 lbs. and Feeder cattle less than 600 lbs. based on per-head figures in the CARES Act and CFAP Rounds 1 and 2; CCA will further clarify these rates for members when CFAP Round 3 is announced.)

For Slaughter/mature cattle and All other cattle, the payment is calculated using the following formula: [(Cattle inventory for the period April 16-May 14 x 25%)(CARES Act Sales Rate – CFAP 1 inventory rate – CFAP 2 inventory rate)]. For example, regulations implementing the CARES Act set the sales rate for “All other cattle” (breeding stock) at $102/head. Under CFAP Round 1, a producer could obtain $33/head for inventory held between April 16 and May 14. Breeding stock were ineligible for CFAP Round 2. $102 – $33 = $69. Because the legislation requires the inventory to be multiplied by 25%, however, this equates to eligibility for $17.25/head of All other cattle (breeding stock). (Calculations for per-head payments will differ for Slaughter/mature cattle based on per-head figures in the CARES Act and CFAP Rounds 1 and 2; CCA will further clarify these rates for members when CFAP Round 3 is announced.)

Establishment of a Dealer Statutory Trust:
The bill establishes a Federal livestock dealer trust to ensure that livestock producers are paid for their animals, securing a policy priority outlined in CCA policy. Note, this provision is identical to the Securing All Livestock Equitably (SALE) Act of 2020. 

Grants for Improvements to Meat and Poultry Facilities to Allow for Interstate Shipment:
The bill provides $60 million to make facility upgrade and planning grants to existing meat and poultry processors to help them move to Federal inspection and be able to sell their products across state lines. The bill also requires USDA to work with States and to report on ways to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment program. This is a modified version of the RAMP UP Act, spearheaded by NCBA earlier this Congress. 

PPP Tax Deductibility:
The bill specifies that forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans will not be treated as taxable income; this is a win for CCA, which joined more than 700 other organizations asking that the provision be included in the COVID relief bill. The legislation also includes $284 billion in a second round of PPP loans and simplifies the forgiveness process for loans under $150,000.

In addition to the above coronavirus relief provisions, the bill contains crucial items for the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). According to NCBA, the FY21 provisions relevant to those in the cattle business and livestock sector include:

  • Extending Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) through September 30, 2021;
  • Maintaining the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) provision for livestock haulers, extending the waiver September 30, 2021;
  • Addressing the Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI) shortfall by providing $32 million in funding for FY21; and
  • Renewing exemptions for livestock producers from EPA greenhouse gas reporting requirements for FY21.

The Public Lands Council has noted two additional components of the bill relevant to public lands ranchers. First, the package “provides $115 million for the Bureau of Land Management to continue work in their multi-year proposal to decrease wild horse populations during this fiscal year.” The deal additionally “prevents any funding being used to list the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act during this fiscal year.”

The legislative package must still be approved by the House and Senate and be signed into law by President Trump, but CCA does not expect the provisions outlined above to be altered significantly during the legislative process. CCA and our national affiliates will continue to examine the legislation and will keep CCA members apprised of important provisions—and their implementation by federal agencies—in future editions of Legislative Bulletin.

2021 Legislative Session Delayed One Week Among COVID-19 Concerns
On Friday, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that the 2021 legislative session will be delayed one week “in an effort to keep members, Legislative staff, and all staff in the Capitol as safe as possible” as California grapples with unprecedented COVID-19 infection rates.

The Legislature, which had initially been scheduled to reconvene on January 4, is now expected to reconvene on Monday, January 11. (In the meantime, Governor Gavin Newsom will release his 2021-22 Proposed Budget by the Constitutionally mandated deadline of January 10, likely on Friday, January 8.)

The Senate and Assembly previously convened for an organizational session on December 7, including the swearing-in of legislators. In the two weeks since, legislators have already introduced 250 bills. While the delay will keep the Legislature from considering and moving legislation, CCA will continue to analyze bills that have been introduced and will continue discussing CCA’s wildfire priorities with legislators and their staff.

From Headquarters

USFWS Finalizes “Habitat” Definition, Updates Critical Habitat Exclusions Under ESA
On Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) published a final rule defining the term “habitat” under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The final rule defines the term “habitat” only for the limited purpose of designating critical habitat under the ESA. It states that “For the purposes of designating critical habitat only, habitat is the abiotic and biotic setting that currently or periodically contains the resources and conditions necessary to support one or more life processes of a species.”

The rule was necessitated in part by the United States Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Weyerhaeuser v. USFWS. In Weyerhaeuser, the Supreme Court clarified that land must logically be “habitat” for a species in order to be designated “critical habitat” for that species. (In doing so, the Supreme Court overturned the designation of 1,544 acres of private land as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog, finding that without significant changes to the land, such as prescribed burning and tree repopulation, the land could never be populated by the species.)

Two days later, on December 18, the USFWS issued a related final rule outlining regulations for excluding land from critical habitat designations for threatened and endangered species. Most notably, the final rule allows the USFWS to consider excluding federal lands from critical habitat designations in the same manner that it currently considers exclusions of non-federal lands (this is a reversal of a 2016 policy which held that USFWS could not typically exclude federal lands from designations).The rule achieves this end by allowing the USFWS to evaluate the “extent to which consultation would produce an outcome that has economic or other impacts, such as by requiring project modifications and additional conservation measures by the Federal agency or other affected parties, on a case-by-case basis.” This regulation allows the USFWS not only to consider undesirable economic and other impacts that critical habitat designation may entail for federal agencies, but also allows the agency to consider impacts to grazing permittees and other users of federal lands.

As with the “habitat” definition, the critical habitat exclusion rule was partly prompted by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Weyerhaeuser. CCA, which filed an amicus (or “friend of the court”) brief in the Weyerhaeuser case, provided input on both regulations in partnership with the Public Lands Council and Western Resources Legal Center.

Both rules become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The definition of “habitat” will become effective on January 15, 2021, and the final rule for critical habitat exclusion will take effect on January 19, 2021.

LAST CALL: Purchase Your LMRF Raffle Tickets by Tomorrow
CCA’s Livestock Memorial Research Fund (LMRF) is 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 Trailerand 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. Call the office by EOD tomorrow, Dec. 22, to pay by credit card and secure your last minute tickets. 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.

US Forest Service to Update Rangeland Management Directives
On Friday, the US Forest Service released the text of proposed revisions to the agency’s Rangeland Management Directives governing grazing permits and allotment administration. The proposal includes amendments to the Service’s Rangeland Management Manual, the Grazing Permit Administration Handbook and the Allotment Management Handbook.

The revisions to the Rangeland Management Directives would be the first in 30 years and are intended to make the Directives “more usable, modern and conform to recent legislation,” as well as to provide greater clarity and management flexibility. The revisions are intended to address major themes such as facilitating succession planning and conservation flexibility.

The US Forest Service is accepting public comment on the proposed revisions through Tuesday, February 16, 2021. The Service will also host two informational webinars on the proposed revisions via Microsoft Teams, which can be accessed by clicking the webinar attendee links near the bottom of the page here. The webinars will be held Wednesday, January 6 and Tuesday, January 12 from 9:00am-noon Pacific.

CCA staff will review the proposed revisions in collaboration with our national affiliates at the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and will draft written comments on the proposals by the February 16 deadline.

USDA Finalizes GIPSA Rule
On December 11, 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.

ONLY 10 Days Left to Participate in the 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. The survey is open through December 31.

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.

Rangeland Summit Goes Virtual for 2021, Dates Set for Jan. 26-29
The 2021 Rangeland Summit is set to take place January 26-29, this time as a virtual event. The event—hosted by the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition and University of California Cooperative Extension—consists of four afternoons (1p.m. to 3:30p.m. each day) with speakers and experts presenting around the theme of “Hi and Lo Tech on Rangelands Supporting Ecosystem Services.” To view the agenda and full list of speakers, click here.

Registration is required to participate and is now open for the event. To attend all four days of the Summit, the registration cost is $75. One-day registrations can also be purchased for $25 each day. Additionally, the Summit is offering special student discounts at $15 per session or $40 per day.

Access information for the meeting will be sent out upon registering. To register, click here. Stay tuned for additional information on the event, as well as more details to come on the 2021 Photo Contest, sponsored by Point Blue Conservation Science.

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.

CCA in the News

Coalition Urges Action to Address California Wildfires Moving Forward AgNet West “More than 9,600 fires burned more than 4.1 million acres in 2020, damaging more than 10,400 structures and causing 31 fatalities. The coalition is comprised of a total of 18 different organizations. In a letter to Governor Newsom, they call for “urgent action” to help mitigate the destruction caused by California wildfires. Signatories of the letter include The Wine Institute, Sierra Business Council, Defenders of Wildlife, and the California Cattlemen’s Association. The funding requested will be focused on mitigating wildfire damage while providing multiple benefits to wildlife, and water quality. More aggression action to prevent wildfires will also strengthen climate resilience.” To continue reading, click here.

California Cattlemen’s Association and Others Request $1.5 Billion in Funding, Regulatory Changes to Battle Increasing Blazes The Ritz Herald  “A new coalition of forestry, agricultural, business and environmental groups today called on Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature to provide stable and sustainable financial resources of more than $1.5 billion in the Governor’s upcoming budget designed to thwart wildfires that will provide multiple benefits to wildlife, water quality and security, as well as climate mitigation and resilience.” To continue reading, click here.

No easy answers for fire-weary Western ranchers Chicago Sun-Times “Certainly, the author [Dave Daley] knows whereof he speaks. His family has been grazing cattle in what’s now the Plumas National Forest since the 1850s: taking them into the mountains after spring snowmelt and gathering them every October. He has a Ph.D. in animal science and is a past president of the California Cattlemen’s Association.” To continue reading, click here.

Coalition call for “urgent action” on wildfires Morning Ag Clips “A new coalition of forestry, agricultural, business and environmental groups today called on Governor Gavin Newsom and the Legislature to provide stable and sustainable financial resources of more than $1.5 billion in the Governor’s upcoming budget designed to thwart wildfires that will provide multiple benefits to wildlife, water quality and security, as well as climate mitigation and resilience.” To continue reading, click here.

BLM’s Great Basin fuels reduction plan encourages grazing Farm Progress “Groups including the Public Lands Council and California Cattlemen’s Association say they’re pleased that the agency’s preferred alternative explicitly acknowledges the role that targeted grazing plays in combating hazardous fuels accumulation and invasive species.” To continue reading, click here.

Industry News

Chairman Roberts Receives NCBA’s Capitol Hill Top Hand Award National Cattlemen’s Beef Association “The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today recognized U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) with the Capitol Hill Top Hand Award in honor of his long career fighting for cattle producers and rural communities in our nation’s capital.” To continue reading, click here.

California’s Farmworkers Feed the World. Should They Be Next for a Vaccine? KQED “This summer, while many Californians went to work in their pajamas at their kitchen tables, Vicente Reyes went to work in the grape fields of the Central Valley.” To continue reading, click here.

Investors can now trade on and profit from California water — how might that work out? San Francisco Chronicle “It’s not just Californians paying attention to the state’s water supply anymore. It’s Wall Street.” To continue reading, click here.

These California groups want state to spend $1.5 billion on wildfire prevention in 2021 Redding Record Searchlight “A group of agriculture, timber and environmental organizations is asking the state to commit to spending up to $1.5 billion on wildfire prevention programs in the next year.” To continue reading, click here.

Dec. Magazine Cover

California Cattleman

Sign up to receive Legislative Bulletin in your inbox every Monday