Former CCA President Dave Daley Testifies Before Congress on Wildfire Resilience
On Thursday, former CCA President Dave Daley testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. Daley was one of four witnesses appearing at a hearing on “Wildfire in a Warming World: Opportunities to Improve Community Collaboration, Climate Resilience, and Workforce Capacity.”
After a brief introduction from his Congressman, Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01), Daley briefly recounted his experience of the 2020 Bear Fire (part of the North Complex fire). “It was dramatic,” Daley said. “Two-hundred thousand acres in very few hours. Not only was my cowherd destroyed, but the legacy of my family and my home. The entire ecosystem of the Plumas National Forest was devastated. We could spend a lot of time arguing what caused it, but I really prefer we think about some solutions instead of simply what the causes may be.”
Throughout the hearing, Daley stressed the need to control the threat of wildfire through active management such as prescribed fire – including cultural burns practiced by Native American tribes – and livestock grazing.
“I don’t have simple solutions,” Daley told Congressional representatives. “I would suggest that we could look to prescribed fire. I want to thank the Newsom Administration in California. They’ve been very proactive with us in the Cattlemen’s Association to at least begin to investigate solutions of prescribed fire and solutions of grazing as alternatives. So I ask you to think about actually doing something and talk to those of us who are actually affected.”
Daley also spoke to the value of livestock grazing on lands within the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction, noting that “As a rancher, and an expert in animal science, I can tell you that the nimblest tool to address dense grasses in the most protective way is to graze these landscapes.”
The entire Subcommittee hearing can be viewed here, and the full text of Daley’s written testimony submitted for the Congressional record can be read here.
State Senate Proposes $3.4 Billion in Funding for Drought Resilience
On Thursday, the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy approved a proposal to spend $3.4 billion to shepherd the state through the current drought. While the proposal is not a detailed spending plan, it does outline the Subcommittee’s drought spending priorities.
The proposal includes $500 million for “Emergency Drought Water-Use Efficiency,” half of which would be utilized to provide “grants for agricultural water-use efficiency projects including building and upgrading irrigation and treatment ponds.” The plan also includes $350 million for implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Plan, $200 million for “Resilient Water Infrastructure Projects,” and $285 million to protect fish and wildlife from the impacts of drought, among other spending priorities (the full proposal is available here). At the urging of Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), the proposal will also earmark $15 million for the Klamath River Basin.
While most of the proposal would be funded through the General Fund and previously approved bond funding, just under one-third of the plan would be paid for using federal funds available under the American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.
According to Subcommittee Chair Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), the spending proposal is aimed at “here and now” drought considerations. To fund longer-term projects, legislators are looking to place an approximately $6-7 billion bond on the 2022 ballot addressing wildfire prevention, safe drinking water, drought preparation and flood protection (the legislative vehicles for these bond measures are AB 1500 and SB 45).
Gov. Newsom Signs Law Providing Tax Break to PPP, EIDL Recipients
On March 1, CCA reported that Governor Gavin Newsom had signed into law a $7.6 billion legislative package intended to expedite economic assistance to small businesses and others impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We noted at that time that the Legislature and Newsom had not yet acted on legislation, AB 80, “which would conform California tax law to new federal tax treatment for COVID-19 relief loans provided through the Small Business Administration [SBA], such as Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans or Economic Injury Disaster Loans [EIDL].”
After receiving assurances from the Biden Administration that the legislation does not run afoul of federal stimulus legislation, Governor Newsom on Thursday signed AB 80 into law.
Under the bill, California small businesses whose PPP or EIDL loans are forgiven by the SBA will not be required to pay taxes on that money and can deduct qualifying expenses, but only if the small business can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in profits for at least one quarter due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cattlemen’s Beef Board Now Accepting Producer Nominations
Interested in helping shape the beef checkoff? Now is your chance to get involved! The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking nominees for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board now through June 6, with three seat openings for the Southwest Unit (California and Nevada).
The Board is authorized by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 and is made up of 101 members representing 34 separate states, four units of geographically grouped states and one importer unit.
Any beef producer who owns cattle may be nominated. Producers must be nominated by a USDA certified producer organization (including CCA) and submit a completed application. USDA will select appointees from the nominated producers.
Interested California producers should express their interest in serving to Lisa in the CCA office at email@example.com by June 1. To learn more about the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and being nominated, click here.
Newsom Proclaims Drought Emergency for Russian River Watershed
Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency “in Mendocino and Sonoma counties due to drought conditions in the Russian River Watershed.”
Newsom announced the state of emergency from the parched lakebed of Lake Mendocino, which currently sits at 43% of its normal capacity.
The emergency proclamation directs the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Food and Agriculture to take numerous actions to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of drought in the Russian River Watershed. Of particular interest to ranchers in the region will be a provision in the proclamation enabling the SWRCB to “Adopt[ ] emergency regulations to curtail water diversions when water is not available at water rights holders’ priority of right or to protect releases of stored water.” The SWRCB previously curtailed Russian River Watershed water diversions in 2014 at the height of the last drought.
As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, on April 7 a bipartisan group of state lawmakers called on Governor Newsom to declare a statewide drought emergency. Newsom, however, has signaled that he is unlikely to do so. “We have to target our solutions regionally,” Newsom said. “Parts of the state are in extreme conditions like this; other parts of our state are not experiencing the kind of extreme conditions that we’re experiencing here in Northern California.”
Final Round of COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant Program Applications Closes Tomorrow
The final round of funding for the California COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant Program administered by California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) closes tomorrow, May 4, at 5:00pm. Both currently waitlisted and new applicants are eligible to apply, and CalOSBA will begin notifying applicants of grant rewards as early as this Friday.
Eligible businesses will have their grant applications scored “based on COVID-19 impact factors incorporated into the Program’s priority criteria.” Grant awards range from $5,000 to $25,000 based on the small business’s annual revenue.
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 sole intermediary for the Program) can be reached via phone at (888) 612-4370 between 7am and 7pm or contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.