Join CCA TOMORROW for a Discussion About Proposition 19
Voters in the 2020 General Election approved Proposition 19, a Constitutional amendment that changes certain property tax rules. Of greatest interest to CCA members are the provisions of Proposition 19 which change how parent-child or grandparent-child property transfers operate. Intended to limit tax benefits for transferees who use inherited property as a vacation or rental home rather than as a primary residence, Proposition 19 also impacts ranchers transferring the “family home” or “family farm” to their children or grandchildren.
In the months since Proposition 19’s passage, CCA has received numerous questions from concerned members seeking to better understand Proposition 19. And there’s good reason for this confusion and concern, as Proposition 19 is ambiguously written in many respects and has even resulted in contradictory interpretations from the California State Board of Equalization. To clear up some of this confusion, CCA will be hosting a Proposition 19 discussion on Tuesday, February 2 at 7:00pm (in advance of the transfer provisions’ effective date of February 16).
During the discussion, CCA staff will seek to clarify what tax provisions Proposition 19 does and does not alter, resolve some of the rumors and confusion surrounding the Proposition and outline legislation and regulation needed to implement and clarify the Proposition (and how CCA is engaging in those efforts).
The discussion will be held over Zoom and is available only to current CCA members. To register for the FREE meeting, click here. For a step-by-step guide on how to join the meeting, click here. Additionally, if you have specific questions about Proposition 19 you’d like addressed on the call, please email them to CCA Vice President of Government Affairs Kirk Wilbur at email@example.com.
Biden Administration Follows in California’s Footsteps, Commits U.S. to “30 by 30”
Last Wednesday, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Section 216 of the order commits the United States to “the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.”
The move mirrors action taken in California on October 7, 2020, when Governor Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order committing the state to the “30 by 30” goal (for more information on California’s participation in the “30 by 30” initiative—and CCA’s reaction—see the October 12, 2020 edition of Legislative Bulletin).
As was the case with Governor Newsom’s Executive Order, President Biden’s directive does not specify what factors will qualify lands or waters as “conserved.” Rather, the Order directs various federal agencies to submit a report proposing “guidelines for determining whether lands and waters qualify for conservation.” The Order also directs the Secretary of Agriculture to work with farmers and ranchers to “initiate efforts…to encourage the voluntary adoption of climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices that decrease wildfire risk” and provide other ecological benefits.
In the hours after the Executive Order was signed, CCA issued a statement stating in part that “CCA is committed to working with the Biden administration…. Just as California cannot reach its conservation goals without working with ranchers to conserve rangelands and expand grazing in our state, the United States cannot meet this 30×30 target without collaboratively working with the ranchers who manage millions of working lands across the country.” (CCA’s national affiliates also released statements in response to the Executive Order. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association statement is available here; the Public Lands Council response is available here).
CCA will work with the Administration—particularly the Department of Agriculture—to ensure that federal “30 by 30” efforts recognize the essential role ranchers play is conserving our open and working landscapes, as well as the numerous ecological benefits conferred upon the landscape by livestock grazing. CCA staff will keep you apprised of any developments in the state and federal “30 by 30” initiatives as they develop.
President Biden’s Executive Order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps, akin to the Civilian Conservation Corps of the Great Depression, intended “to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation, and address the changing climate.”
A White House fact sheet on Biden’s climate Executive Orders is available here.
California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program Accepting “Round 2” Applications
Tomorrow morning at 8:00am, the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program will begin accepting a second (and final) round of grant applications. Applications must be submitted no later than Monday, February 8 at 6:00pm.
The program, administered by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), originally accepted grant applications from December 30, 2020 through January 13, and began awarding grants on January 15. Applicants who submitted applications during Round 1 but who were not awarded a grant need not reapply for Round 2; according to the program website, “qualified applications will be automatically rolled over into the next funding round for consideration.”
Eligible businesses will have their grant applications scored “based on COVID-19 impact factors incorporated into the Program’s priority criteria.” Those factors are overviewed at the Program’s website under the heading “How will grant recipients be determined?” Grant awards will be based on the small business’s annual revenue: small businesses with annual revenue between $1,000 and $100,000 will be eligible for up to $5,000 in grants, those with revenues between $100,000 and $1 million will be eligible for up to $15,000 in grants and those with incomes above $1 million but not exceeding $2.5 million are eligible for upwards of $25,000 in grant funding.
Approval notifications for the second round of applications will be issued between February 11 and 18. Waitlist notices will go out on February 22 and notices of non-selection for the grant program will be issued on February 24.
The program is currently funded at $500 million, but the Equitable Recovery for California’s Businesses and Jobs plan included in Governor Gavin Newsom’s Proposed Budget (released January 8) proposes an additional $575 million for the grant program. It is not yet clear how the program will be administered in the event that the Legislature appropriates those funds (for instance, whether the program will accept new applications at that time).
More information on the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, including links to apply for the program, is available at https://careliefgrant.com/. For questions, Lendistry (the organization administering the program) can be reached via phone at (888) 612-4370 between 7am and 7pm, or contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIRECT Act Reintroduced in Congress, Would Add Options for Marketing Beef
Last Thursday, Representatives Dusty Johnson (R, SD-At large) and Henry Cuellar (D, TX-28) introduced the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act of 2021, which seeks to create new direct-to-consumer options for beef producers, processors and small meat markets without compromising federal food safety standards.
The Congressmen previously introduced the DIRECT Act in the 116th Congress; CCA reported on the measure in the July 2020 edition of Hot Irons.
Currently, many states have state meat inspection programs that are approved by USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) as “at least equal to” standards set under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Under most circumstances, state-inspected meat can only be sold intrastate. The DIRECT Act would allow processors, butchers or other retailers to sell normal retail quantities (for beef, 300 pounds) of FSIS-approved state-inspected meat via e-commerce to consumers across state lines. Importantly, because these sales would be made electronically, sales are traceable and can easily be recalled if necessary.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted an urgent need for our industry to expand opportunities for state-inspected meatpackers,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NBCA) Policy Division Chair Todd Wilkinson. “NCBA acted quickly last year, advocating to allow more beef to be safely sold online across state lines. The DIRECT Act will allow cattle producers and smaller beef processors to more easily evolve to meet the growing demand for e-commerce sales.”
UPDATED: US Forest Service to Revise Rangeland Management Directives
In December, 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.
Last week, the US Forest Service announced that it will hold a public webinar regarding the proposed revisions on Wednesday, February 3 from 11:00am-2:00pm Pacific time. The webinar will be conducted via the Microsoft Teams platform and will be available here. The agency previously held two public webinars about the proposed revisions on January 6 and January 12 (the PowerPoint presentation given during those webinars is available here; while the Forest Service claims recordings of those presentations will be made available on its webpage for the Rangeland Management Directives, as of press times those recordings had not yet been posted).
The US Forest Service is accepting public comment on the proposed revisions through Tuesday, February 16, 2021.
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.
Beef Quality Assurance Training Online TOMORROW
UC Cooperative Extension in collaboration with the California Beef Council are excited to offer an online Beef Quality Assurance Training and Certification tomorrow, February 2, 2021 at 5:30-7:00 pm. The online training will include presentations on antibiotic stewardship, vaccine administration and handling, record keeping, and carcass quality. There will also be a Question and Answer session with Dr. Gabriele Maier, DVM, Cooperative Extension Specialists in Veterinary Medicine.
This session will be live and will include lots of visuals. It is recommended you log in from a location with reliable internet and be a few minutes early! Attendees will be required to complete a short online quiz post training to receive your Beef Quality Assurance Training Certificate. The link to the test will be shared with attendees following the event.
The event is FREE to participate. Registration is required – please click here to register.
For questions or assistance please contact Tracy Schohr, livestock and natural resources advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Butte Counties at email@example.com or 916-716-2643.
Biden Regulatory ‘Freeze’ Halts Some Trump Admin. Regulatory Reforms
In the hours after President Biden’s inauguration on January 20, his Chief of Staff Ron Klain issued a memo to the heads of all executive agencies titled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.”
For Trump Administration regulations which have not yet been submitted to the Federal Register, or which have been submitted to the Federal Register but not yet printed, the memo encourages agency leadership to hold or withdraw those rules until such time as a Biden appointee can review and approve the rules.
For Trump Administration regulations which have already been published in the Federal Register but which have not yet taken effect, the memo urges agency heads to delay implementation of those rules for 60 days, and suggests those agencies “consider opening a 30-day comment period to allow interested parties to provide comments about issues of fact, law, and policy raised by those rules, and consider pending petitions for reconsideration involving such rules.” If no substantial issues are raised, the rules should be allowed to take effect, the memo says. But if the agency determines after a 30-day comment period that further review is needed, they may refer the rules back to the White House Office of Management and Budget.
A number of late-term Trump Administration regulations could be impacted by the regulatory freeze. For instance, a final rule previously reported in Legislative Bulletin which clarifies that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act does not criminalize incidental take of migratory birds—scheduled to go into effect on February 8—could be halted under the memo. CCA affiliate the Public Lands Council also reports that “the BLM’s recently-finalized sage grouse supplemental Environmental Impact Statements, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of critical habitat for the spotted owl, and both Endangered Species Act rules that were finalized at the end of last year (critical habitat exclusions and “habitat” definition),” among other rules, could be impacted by the regulatory freeze.
CCA and our national affiliates at the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association are preparing to re-engage with administrative agencies should they re-open 30-day comment periods for Trump Administration regulations impacting the ranching industry. CCA will continue to keep you informed about these regulatory developments.
Paycheck Protection Program Reopens
Among the many provisions in the $2.3 trillion Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 signed into law late last year was $284 billion in funding for a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The legislation also simplifies the loan forgiveness process for borrowers of less than $150,000.
The $284 billion infusion will allow small businesses which did not previously seek a PPP loan—or which were rejected for a loan—to take advantage of the program. However, initial PPP loans are now capped at $2 million, as opposed to the $10 million maximum for the prior round of small business loans. Businesses with up to 500 employees may be eligible for PPP loans.
The new law also allows certain businesses which previously obtained a PPP loan to seek a ‘second draw’ loan. To qualify, the small business must employ 300 or fewer employees and must demonstrate that it has exhausted the full amount of its first PPP loans and saw at least a 25% drop in 2020 revenue compared to 2019 revenue.
Importantly, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 also clarified that PPP loans will not be treated as taxable income, reversing an IRS ruling which would have taxed the loans. This is a win for CCA which, along with more than 700 other organizations, lobbied against PPP loans being treated as taxable income.
PPP loans are currently available through all participating lenders through March 31. For additional details or to apply for a loan, contact your lending institution.
FSA Extends ECP Signups Through March 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. The deadline for ECP applications has been extended to March 31 (applications were initially set to close on January 28).
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 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 https://www.farmers.gov/recover.
Opportunity to Participate in a Wolf-Livestock Depredation Survey
Through a new study, Colorado State University, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection branch and the Western Landowners Alliance are collaborating with livestock producers across the West to better understand the real impacts of wolves on livestock.
“The goal of our research is to address a fundamental concern of the livestock community that the impacts of wolves are underestimated, and therefore available depredation compensation is not representative of the lived experiences of landowners operating on landscapes with wolves…,” the researchers state on the homepage of the survey’s website.
As part of the study, the research team has created a survey and is seeking producer participation. “We would like you to take this survey to help our team better understand wolf depredations from the livestock producer’s perspective. Your participation will help us identify what would constitute a fair compensation program, and your responses are critical as we strive to bring local knowledge to the larger conversation surrounding wolves in the West,” the team explains in the introduction to the survey.
If you are interested in sharing your perspective on wolf-livestock depredations and participating in the study, you can learn more about the research and take the survey by clicking here.
USDA FSA’s Conservation Reserve Program Now Accepting Signups
On January 5, USDA Farm Service Agency’s California State Office announced signups for the Conservation Reserve Program (CPR) are being accepted now through February 12, 2021. Interested ranchers, farmers and private landowners are encouraged to apply.
“Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland,” the press release announcing the start of signups explains. “Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to their local region and the nation’s environment and economy.”
“This signup for the Conservation Reserve Program gives producers and landowners an opportunity to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term,” FSA State Director Connie Conway said in the press release. “This program encourages conservation on sensitive lands or low-yielding acres, which provides tremendous benefits for stewardship of our natural resources and wildlife.”
To learn more about the program, eligibility and get additional information on this enrollment period, click here.
CRP celebrated 35 years of operation in December 2020 and is one of the largest private-land conservation programs in the country. For more information on signing up for the program contact your local County FSA office. You can find contact information for your County FSA office here.
Invitation to Attend the Society for Rangeland Management’s Annual Meeting
The Society for Rangeland Management (SRM) invites you to join their Rangelands New Frontiers Virtual Annual Meeting happening February 15-18. The four-day event includes workshops, poster presentations, networking and more, all centered around topics related to rangelands.
Additionally, there will be three Plenary Sessions focused on highlighting the challenges and opportunities present on rangelands. Plenary Session topics are: February 15, Valuing Ranching and Conservation; February 16, Adapt (or Succumb) To Climate Change on Rangelands; and February 17, Wicked Problems in Wildland Fire.
Registration costs for the event are $100 for SRM members and $50 for SRM students and young professional members. While an additional $25 is added to registrations for non-members, SRM is offering CCA members the chance to register at the SRM rate, regardless of membership with SRM. Contact Katie in the CCA office for more information on how to register at the $100 rate.
To learn more about the 2021 SRM Virtual Annual Meeting, click here.
Participate in the Water Board’s Strategic Plan
The California Water Board’s Central Valley Region 5 is working on a strategic plan “to guide the Board’s priorities for the next 5-7 years.” As part of the process, the Board is inviting all to take a survey and give their input on the plan. To take the survey by February 22, click here.
To see the boundaries the Region covers, spanning from parts of Modoc County down to sections of Kern County, click here.