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April 19, 2021

From Headquarters

UPDATE: Gov. Newsom Signs Legislation Providing $536 Million in Early Action Wildfire Funding
On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 85, approving a $536 million “early action” funding plan for wildfire resilience. Early action funding augments the current fiscal year budget and can be spent almost immediately on fuels treatment projects and other resilience initiatives. Governor Newsom signed the bill alongside legislative leaders at a fuels management project in the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area which helped protect a Butte County community from the 2020 North Complex Fire.

The agreement includes $198 million for funding wildfire fuel breaks, $283 million for forest health and resilient wildlands and $27 million for home and community hardening, among other funding. Altogether, the early action funding is more than $200 million greater than the amount initially proposed in Governor Newsom’s January 8 Proposed Budget.

CCA issued a statement praising the $536 million appropriation but noted that “this is only the beginning. More work needs to be completed to correct the mismanagement of our landscapes over the last 100 years.”

The move came just two weeks after Governor Newsom announced $80.74 million in Emergency Fund spending to support early action on fire fuels management and wildfire response efforts, enabling the hiring of 1,399 additional firefighters including “fire crews for fuels management.”

More information about the wildfire funding agreement is available in the April edition of Hot Irons and the May edition of California Cattleman.

UPDATE: USDA Designates All California Counties as Primary or Contiguous Natural Disaster Areas Due to Drought
As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on March 5 designated “50 California counties as primary natural disaster areas due to recent drought.” The natural disaster designation was justified by the U.S. Drought Monitor designating those counties as having Severe (D2) drought for at least eight weeks or Extreme (D3) or Exceptional (D4) drought at any time.

California’s remaining eight counties—Monterey, Orange, San Benito, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Ventura—are immediately adjacent to counties designated as primary natural disaster areas, and thus have been designated as “contiguous natural disaster areas.” Counties in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon which are immediately adjacent to one of the 50 counties designated as primary natural disaster areas are likewise deemed contiguous natural disaster areas.

The primary and contiguous drought designations make ranchers in every county of the state eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), such as FSA emergency loans, and from the Small Business Administration (SBA), such as Economic Injury Disaster (EID) Loans. Applications for assistance from FSA or SBA under the drought designation must be submitted no later than November 5.

To apply for an emergency loan or inquire regarding other drought disaster relief resources available through FSA, ranchers should contact their county FSA office. You can find your county office’s contact information by clicking on northern California or southern California here and then clicking on your county. To apply for an EID Loan or other assistance from SBA, producers should visit SBA’s website, here, or contact SBA via phone at 1-800-659-2955 or via email at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

FDA Releases Report on 2020 Central Valley Leafy Green E. coli Outbreak
In early April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the release of a report on the investigation into a Fall 2020 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. In its announcement, FDA states that “we identified the outbreak strain in one cattle feces composite sample taken alongside a road approximately 1.3 miles upslope from a produce farm with multiple fields linked to the outbreak through traceback. In addition, several other samples tested positive for other [Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC)] strains, including E. coli O157:H7. While no direct source or route of contamination was identified, the investigation provided insights into potential sources of contamination, including livestock activities on adjacent land.”

It is worth noting that the report does not conclusively demonstrate a causal link between cattle grazing and the illness outbreak. It is possible, for instance, that both cattle and leafy greens were contaminated with the outbreak strain of E. coli from wildlife or another source.

FDA has recommended that the agricultural community in the Central Coast continue to “work to identify where this reoccurring strain of pathogenic E. coli is persisting and the likely routes of leafy green contamination,” including through participation “in the California Longitudinal Study [(CALS)], and in the locally-led, locally-convened California Agricultural Neighbors (CAN) workgroup.” CCA is participating in both CALS and CAN, and in other California food safety initiatives outlined here.

On April 6, California Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross issued an open letter encouraging farmers and ranchers to participate in the California Longitudinal Study; if you are interested in participating or learning more, contact Dr. Michele Jay-Russell at UC Davis or contact Kirk Wilbur in the CCA office.

USDA Announces $10 Million in WHIP+ Assistance for Certain Commodities
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it has made $10 million available from the agency’s Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) “to assist agricultural producers impacted by the worsening drought conditions in the Klamath River Basin.” WHIP+ assistance is being made available for drought losses in 2018 or 2019 and requires at least a D3 drought rating from the U.S. Drought Monitor in the producer’s county to be eligible.

WHIP+ only covers losses for “crops, trees, bushes, and vines that occurred as a result of those disaster events, milk losses due to adverse weather conditions, and losses to on-farm stored commodities.” While the available assistance is not directly applicable to cattle production, it may provide relief for producers with diversified operations.

Further details are available from USDA’s press release, here.

CDFA Releases Draft Report on Farmer- and Rancher-Led Climate Solutions
In early February, CCA reported on stakeholder meetings hosted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to solicit insights regarding “farmer- and rancher-led climate change solutions.”

Earlier this month, CDFA released its draft report based on those stakeholder meeting. CDFA is soliciting public comments on the draft report to better inform the agency’s understanding of farmer- and rancher-led climate change solutions. Comments are due no later than 5:00pm on April 30 and may be emailed to CDFA’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation at cdfa.oefi@cdfa.ca.gov.

Feedback received by CDFA will ultimately inform the Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy developed by various state agencies as mandated by Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-82-20, which also established the goal “to conserve at least 30 percent of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030” (often referred to as the “30 by ’30” initiative).

USDA Seeks Information on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry
On March 16, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public input on the agency’s Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Strategy. USDA’s Strategy is in furtherance of President Biden’s January 27 Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

The notice requests information on how USDA can “encourage voluntary adoption of agricultural practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure resiliency to climate change” and “utilize programs, funding…and other authorities to decrease wildfire risk fueled by climate change,” among other issues.

In the wake of California’s worst wildfire season on record, there is much that the US Forest Service—an agency within USDA—can do to reduce wildfire risk on the 28.8 million acres of land the agency manages within the state. The agency must substantially increase its application of prescribed fire, remove deadfall accumulated during prior fire seasons and complete NEPA on vacant grazing allotments to ensure that livestock can remove fine fuels which would otherwise provide tinder for wildfires.

CCA and its national affiliate the Public Lands Council will draft detailed responses to USDA’s request for comment over the coming weeks. Interested CCA members can provide comments to USDA by clicking “Submit a Formal Comment” here. Comments are due no later than 8:59pm on April 29.

Upcoming Events

PG&E Offering Ag Power Quality Workshop April 21
April 21, 10am-Noon
Click here to visit the CCA website and learn more about the workshop. Register for the event here.

Upcoming Nature-Based Solutions and 30 by 30 Virtual Regional Workshops
April 20 – May 11, 4-6PM (Click here to see dates for each region)
Your participation and input in these regional, virtual workshops is needed as The California Natural Resources Agency will use them to “provide input on meeting the State’s commitment to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030 and accelerate nature-based solutions to address climate change.” Learn more and find out which regional workshop to attend by clicking here.

What’s “Bugging” Your Beef Webinar
May 19, 6-7:15PM
Join University of California Cooperative Extension for a webinar on beef cattle external parasites and treatment options. Learn more by clicking here and click here to register.

Virtual AB 589 Water Measurement and Reporting Course Scheduled for May 20
May 20, 1-4PM
The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) will offer a virtual water measurement and reporting course as authorized by CCA-sponsored Assembly Bill 589. Those interested in attending the virtual course can pre-register and pay for the course here. There will be a limited number of seats offered for this training in 2021, so early pre-registration is encouraged. Click here for more details.

CCA in the News

5 things you need to know about federal drought aid in California CalMatters “Katie Roberti, a spokeswoman for the California Cattlemen’s Association, said ranchers are facing the most severe conditions in decades, worse than the last drought. ‘While the federal designation is welcomed assistance, without precipitation many California cattle producers are going to be forced to make the difficult decision to reduce the size of their herds, some more drastically than others,’ she said. ‘Feed on rangelands will be limited and we are hearing hay prices will be high. These herd reductions will have a lasting impact on the number of cattle in the West for years to come.’” To continue reading, click here.

CA wildfire resiliency one step closer Western Livestock Journal “The California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) applauded the leadership of the governor and the Legislature, stating it is a ‘major victory for all Californians and the CCA.’” To continue reading, click here.
Bond to Spur Economic Recovery and Combat Climate Change and Food Insecurity, Passes Assembly Agriculture Committee Assemblymember Robert Rivas “‘In 2020, California was hit by a one-two punch of the COVID-19 pandemic and a historically catastrophic wildfire season, exposing significant vulnerabilities for the state’s food-supply chain and agricultural labor force,’ said Kirk Wilbur, Vice President of Government Affairs for the California Cattlemen’s Association. ‘COVID-19 shuttered meat packing facilities, bottlenecking our food-supply infrastructure, which impacted everyone from cow-calf producers to consumers and greatly exacerbating food insecurity. At the height of the pandemic, wildfires scorched 4.2 million acres of the state, incinerating rangelands, livestock, and homes while threatening the health and safety of our agricultural workforce. AB 125 will make much-needed investments in our food and agriculture infrastructure to avoid the serious problems we saw in 2020 and ensure our food supply chain is ready for whatever challenges lay ahead.’” To continue reading, click here.

Training offered in California on water volume measurement system techniques Vegetable Growers News “The California Cattlemen’s Association worked with Assemblyman Frank Bigelow to introduce a bill that would allow a self-certification option. Assembly Bill 589 became law on Jan. 1, 2018. This bill, until Jan. 1, 2023, allows any diverter, as defined, ‘who has completed this instructional course on measurement devices and methods administered by the University of California Cooperative Extension,’ including passage of a proficiency test, to be considered a qualified individual when installing and maintaining devices or implementing methods of measurement. The bill required UC Cooperative Extension and the board to jointly develop the curriculum for the course and the proficiency test.” To continue reading, click here.

Industry News

Cattle grazing at Pismo Preserve help with fire prevention, native plant restoration KCBX “If you go for a hike at the Pismo Preserve over the next few months, you may come across a herd of cattle grazing the rangeland area of the preserve to eat invasive weeds such as black mustard, help restore the diversity of native plant life and reduce the risk of wildfire.” To continue reading, click here.

4 Sonoma County Parks Where You Can Hike with Cows Sonoma Magazine “For those in search of a new hiking adventure, Sonoma County Regional Parks boast a plethora of trails that motivate us to get outside more often. From seaside strolls to mountain climbs, there’s something for everyone to explore. Trails with vineyard views remind hikers of how wineries and agriculture shape this area, but there are other reminders of our agricultural roots that like to pop up along the route.” To continue reading, click here.

California braces for extreme 2021 wildfire season – it’s very dry out there San Francisco Chronicle “Swain said the 2021 fire season is unlikely to surpass the severity of 2020, given the particularly unlucky combination of factors — little rain, a freak August lightning storm and unrelenting autumn winds — that made last year so bad.” To continue reading, click here.

Tensions rise in water battle along Oregon-California line The Sacramento Bee “One of the worst droughts in memory in a massive agricultural region straddling the California-Oregon border could mean steep cuts to irrigation water for hundreds of farmers this summer to sustain endangered fish species critical to local tribes.” To continue reading, click here.

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