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From Headquarters

President Trump Signs COVID Relief and Omnibus Spending Package; Includes Significant Provisions for Ranchers
On Sunday evening, President Donald Trump signed into law a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill and a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill. The legislation, previously reported in last week’s Legislative Bulletin, includes critical provisions for cattle and livestock producers.

Below are the key provisions of the bill for California cattle producers.

CFAP for Cattle Producers:
The latest COVID-19 relief package authorizes a third round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), providing additional payment to ranchers for cattle in inventory between April 16 and May 14 (the same period covered by CFAP 1’s Part 2 payments and CFAP 2). The aid comes from $11 billion appropriated for use by the Secretary of Agriculture for COVID-19 relief.

For Slaughter cattle: 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 Slaughter cattle: 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)]. It should be noted in conducting those calculations that breeding stock and cull cattle were not eligible for CFAP 2 payments.

Based on the bill language, CCA has calculated the following per-head payment rates under CFAP 3. These rates should not be taken as authoritative; CCA will provide greater clarity when USDA releases details regarding CFAP 3:

Category Definition CARES Rate CFAP1 pmt/head CFAP2 pmt/head CFAP 3 pmt/head
Slaughter cattle: fed cattle Cattle with an average weight in excess of 1,400 pounds which yield average carcass weights in excess of 800 pounds and are intended for slaughter* $214 $33 $55 50% x (214 – 33 – 55) = $63
Feeder cattle < 600 lbs. Cattle weighing less than 600 pounds $102 $33 $55 50% x (102 – 33 – 55) = $7
Feeder cattle > 600 lbs. Cattle weighing more than 600 pounds but less than the weight of slaughter cattle-fed cattle $139 $33 $55 50% x (139 – 33 – 55) = $25.50
Slaughter cattle: Mature cattle Culled cattle raised or maintained for breeding purposes, but which were removed from inventory and are intended for slaughter $92 $33 $0*

*Cull cattle/ breeding stock excluded

25% x (92 – 33 – 0) = $14.75
All other cattle Commercially raised bovine animals, excluding beefalo, bison, and animals used for dairy production or intended for dairy production $102 $33 $55**

**Breeding stock excluded

25% x (102 – 33 – 55) = $3.50

($17.25 for breeding stock)

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 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 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) exemption for livestock haulers, extending the waiver through 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.” Second, the bill “prevents any funding being used to list the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act during this fiscal year.”

CCA will continue to keep members informed regarding the 5,593-page bill’s impacts on the cattle industry as further details emerge.

LAST CHANCE: Participate in the KSU Grazing Management Survey by Thursday
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.

USFWS Finalizes “Habitat” Definition, Updates Critical Habitat Exclusions Under ESA
On December 16, 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.

US Forest Service to Update Rangeland Management Directives
Earlier this month, 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.

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

Billions of dollars spent on fighting California wildfires, but little on prevention Los Angeles Times “Wara is not alone. Environmentalists and tribes are calling on the state to ramp up prevention spending. A diverse coalition of groups — including Defenders of Wildlife, the Wine Institute and the California Cattlemen’s Assn. — recently urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to spend $1.5 billion next year on what it called wildfire resilience: Wildland fuel reduction, prescribed fire and making rural communities more fire-resistant.” To continue reading, click here.

Ag Pass program aims to improve wildfire preparedness Western Livestock Journal “‘After being at the Carr, Sonoma, Creek and Camp fires for months at a time, I started developing the program from the fire side and presented it to California Cattlemen’s Association a couple years ago,’ Stornetta. ‘This was a great collaborative effort. After meeting with our fire safe council, we are looking at the program being fully adopted very soon.’” To continue reading, click here.

Materials coalition challenges state’s endangered species determination Concrete Products “The lawsuit does not challenge the merits of whether the western Joshua tree should ultimately be protected under the California Endangered Species Act. Instead, it asserts the petition for consideration did not meet basic, foundational requirements of the California Endangered Species Act to enable the Commission to determine whether such protection might be appropriate. The coalition lawsuit includes CalCIMA, the California Cattlemen’s Association, California Manufacturers and Technology Association, California Business Properties Association, High Desert Association of Realtors, and City of Hesperia.” To continue reading, click here.

Get involved with local agriculture community Patterson Irrigator “California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is a strong statewide organization created to support the ranching families in the state. Under the CCA umbrella are county chapters which provide each county the opportunity to connect members who promote the cattle industry at a grass roots level to the state who represents the entire industry in legislative and regulatory affairs.” To continue reading, click here.

GUEST COMMENTARY: No easy answers for fire-weary Western ranchers Columbia Missourian “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.

Industry News

In Devil’s Garden, California’s majestic wild horses trapped in no-win fight for survival The Sacramento Bee “The six horses in the pen whinnied and stamped their feet, their eyes wide with fear. A helicopter had just chased them off their grazing lands deep in the Modoc National Forest and into a temporary holding corral. They were terrified of their confinement and the smell of humans.” To continue reading, click here.

An endangered wolf was shot to death in California. Then the armed agents showed up The Sacramento Bee “At least seven California game wardens wearing bulletproof vests and sidearms drove into Big Valley, past alfalfa fields and cattle pastures. Their pickups crunched along a dirt road before turning onto a ranch.” To continue reading, click here.

Wyden introduces prescribed fire legislation Lake County Examiner “Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden joined by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell have introduced Senate Bill 4625 — the National Prescribed Fire Act of 2020 — to support the United States Department of Agriculture and Interior in conducting more prescribed fires throughout the United States.” To continue reading, click here.

Dec. Magazine Cover

California Cattleman

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