Governor Newsom Expands Drought Declaration to 39 Additional Counties
Late 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.” As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, however, Newsom was hesitant at that time to issue a statewide drought declaration, stating that “We have to target our solutions regionally.”
While Newsom still has not issued a statewide drought emergency, this afternoon the Governor issued a proclamation finding a state of emergency “to exist in the Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and Tulare Lake Watershed Counties due to drought.” Those watersheds cover 39 counties, bringing the total number of counties with operative drought declarations to 41.
The order enables the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to modify reservoir releases “to conserve water upstream later in the year in order to protect cold water pools for salmon and steelhead” and to improve water quality.
According to a press release from the Governor’s office, “The state of emergency also enables flexibilities in regulatory requirements and procurement processes to mitigate drought impacts.” The proclamation further directs the SWRCB to “consider emergency regulations to curtail water diversions when water is not available at water right holders’ priority of right or to protect releases of stored water.” The SWRCB previously curtailed water diversions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Russian River watersheds in 2014 and 2015 at the height of the previous drought.
CCA will continue to keep you apprised of any state and federal actions taken in response to California’s ongoing, extreme drought conditions.
Senate Subcommittee Proposes $1 Billion/Year in Wildfire Funding as Newsom Prepares “May Revise”
Governor Gavin Newsom declared last week “Wildfire Preparedness Week” in California. Fittingly, Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy kicked off the week with a proposal to fund wildfire resilience at $1 billion a year over the next five years.
Governor Newsom’s Proposed Budget, release Jan. 8, called for $1 billion in total wildfire resilience funding – $323 million in “early action” funding and $677 million through the regular Fiscal Year 2021-22 budgeting process. As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, the State last month allocated $536 million in early action wildfire prevention funding immediately available for use in the current fiscal year. Now, Senate Subcommittee No. 2 is proposing to augment FY 2021-22 wildfire funding – and to pre-fund wildfire prevention efforts over the following four years through the creation of a Wildfire Prevention and Resilience Fund.
The Senate Subcommittee proposes significant increases in “Resilient Wildlands” appropriations, including forest resilience funding for Cal Fire and funding for stewardship of state-owned lands. Funding for “Forest Sector Economic Stimulus” would also be significantly augmented under the plan. On Monday, CCA testified in support of the Subcommittee’s plan, but urged greater investments for prescribed fire application under the proposal.
The Wildfire Prevention and Resilience Fund – if adopted into the budget and signed into law – would receive $200 million annually from the State’s cap-and-trade program as dictated by SB 901 (2018). The other $4 billion would come from this year’s General Fund, which currently sits $16.7 billion ahead of Department of Finance projections thanks to higher-than-expected tax revenues.
The Senate Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy also recently proposed $3.4 billion to combat the current drought. These proposals come as the Legislature prepares for the release of Governor Newsom’s “May Revise” of the FY 2021-22 Budget, which will be released later this week. CCA will continue to keep members apprised of budget developments as negotiations in Sacramento progress.
Biden Administration Releases Initial “America the Beautiful” (30×30) Report
A week after taking office, President Biden issued an “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” Among other things, the Order directed the secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture and Commerce Departments and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality to submit a report “recommending steps that the United States should take…to achieve the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.”
On Thursday, the Administration released the report, which rebrands the “30 by ’30” initiative as “America the Beautiful.” According to CCA affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the report “includes many of the priorities that are most important to cattle and sheep producers, including the protection of private property rights, learning from successful working lands management, and leveraging the expertise of ag producers for the benefit of lands, wildlife, and all land users.”
The report specifically identifies “six recommended areas of early focus for the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to conserve and restore America the Beautiful.” One of those six priorities is to “incentivize and reward the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, ranchers, farmers, and forest owners,” and the report identifies the 2023 Farm Bill as an opportunity for the Legislature to enhance federal programs that incentivize farmers’ and ranchers’ good stewardship.
CCA will continue to work with NCBA to shape the Administration’s “America the Beautiful” proposal, ensuring it recognizes and reflects the vital role that cattlemen play in stewarding the nation’s land, water and wildlife resources. CCA will continue to keep you informed about developments on both the federal “America the Beautiful” proposal and California’s own “30 by ’30” initiative.
Wolf OR-103 Enters Siskiyou County
Last week, CCA was notified by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) that a radio-collared wolf designated OR-103 had entered California through northeastern Siskiyou County on May 4. CDFW subsequently issued an update to its “California’s Known Wolves – Past and Present” document reflecting the presence of a new wolf within the state. A pair of wolves nicknamed the “Whaleback Pair” are also currently within Eastern Siskiyou County.
OR-103 is a male wolf born in 2019 or 2020, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife – which collared the animal – is not currently certain of its pack of origin.
Brand Inspection Fees to Decrease Starting July 1
Today the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Bureau of Livestock Identification (BLI) announced that starting July 1 the price of inspection fees will be lowered by 10 cents per head of cattle. In a press release announcing the change CDFA explained, “The Bureau’s advisory board and CDFA Secretary Karen Ross made the determination due to a budget surplus in the program that developed after the BLI moved to mobile applications that lessened the amount of time spent on paper work.”
“We are pleased to be able to lower fees and as a result leave our livestock producers with a little more money for their operations,” Secretary Ross said in the release. “We commit to regular reviews of fee structures in all of our programs and will make adjustments when necessary and/or warranted. I want to thank our Bureau of Livestock ID for an outstanding job in keeping expenses to a minimum.”
Former CCA President Dave Daley Testifies Before Congress on Wildfire Resilience
Late last month, 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 (Dave is introduced to give his testimony at about minute 42), and the full text of Daley’s written testimony submitted for the Congressional record can be read here.
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 April 29 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 firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1. To learn more about the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and being nominated, click here.