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May 24, 2021

CCA Bills Survive “Suspense Day” Culling
Thursday was “Suspense Day” in Sacramento, the day on which the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees hear bills referred to the committees’ suspense files (the suspense file is comprised of bills that are projected to cost the State $150,000 or more and which are set aside by appropriators throughout the session to be considered later).

Approximately 537 bills were on the Assembly’s suspense file and 357 on the Senate’s. At the end of the day, about one-quarter of those bills (231, to be exact) were axed by appropriators.

CCA had two sponsored bills up for consideration on Suspense Day: AB 1103 (Dahle), which would establish a statewide framework for local “Ag Pass” programs, and SB 332 (Dodd), which incentivizes prescribed fire application by minimizing practitioners’ financial liability. Both survived Suspense Day, passing out of their respective appropriations committees on unanimous votes.

Significant bill culling is likely to continue beyond Suspense Day: on Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that legislators “will only be allowed to pass 12 bills to the opposite house.” CCA does not anticipate that this announcement will impact our sponsored bills, but the announcement will certainly limit the total bills progressing through the Legislature this year.

THIS THURSDAY: NCBA Hosts “America the Beautiful” (30 by ’30) Producer Discussion
Following the Biden Administration’s preliminary report on “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” the Administration’s plan to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030, CCA-affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is convening regional forums to discuss the Administration’s efforts with beef producers. (CCA’s previous reporting on the “America the Beautiful” Report is available here.)

According to NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources Kaitlynn Glover, “NCBA must continue to guide the administration’s conservation efforts to ensure these large frameworks recognize and incorporate the good work cattle producers already do, and avoid any unintended consequences for our lands, waters, businesses, and communities.” To that end, NCBA is hosting regional meetings to elicit direct feedback and discussion from cattle producers.

NCBA will host its “America the Beautiful Producer Discussion” webinar for Region VI (which includes California as well as Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah) this Thursday, May 27, from 8:00-9:00am Pacific. Members are encouraged to register for the webinar in advance and may register here.

Congressmembers Push DOJ to Advance Investigation into Anticompetitive Practices
Last Monday, a group of Senators and Representatives sent a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division to continue its civil investigation into whether the nation’s four biggest meatpackers have engaged in anticompetitive activity.

On May 22, 2020, DOJ’s Antitrust Division sent civil investigative demands to the nation’s largest meatpackers. In the past year, the DOJ has not released any results of the investigation and the Congressional letter notes that “there is no information to even suggest whether the investigation has concluded or is still ongoing” in the wake of leadership transitions at DOJ, including after the Presidential transition.

In a statement issued Monday, CCA affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) welcomed the bicameral letter. “Despite strong consumer demand and reopening across much of the country, cattle producers face significant business challenges. The farmers and ranchers NCBA represents are contending with high market volatility, drought, and extreme input costs, and they can’t capture the value they deserve for the high-quality product they supply,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane.

“We have a high supply of cattle at one end of this equation and a high demand for U.S. beef at the other, but the middle is being absolutely choked by the lack of processing capacity. It’s in the best interests of both producers and consumers for the Department of Justice to get to the bottom of the current market dynamics, and asses why they seemingly always result in producers getting the short end of the deal. Cattle producers deserve to know whether or not the price disparity that has plagued our market is the result of anti-competitive or other inappropriate practices in the packing sector.”

CCA will continue to keep members informed of any developments in DOJ’s investigation.

Represent California on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Express Interest by 6/1
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 lisa@calcattlemen.org by June 1. To learn more about the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and being nominated, click here.

USDA Issues 90-Day Progress Report on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Strategy
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a 90-Day Progress Report for its Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Strategy. USDA is undertaking the initiative in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.

The report outlines seven recommendations for USDA to consider in developing a Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Strategy. These include preparing USDA to better quantify and track the climate benefits of the Strategy; developing a Strategy that works for all farmers, ranchers and forest landowners; and supporting new and better markets for climate-smart agricultural and forestry products.

Perhaps of greatest interest to Californians in the wake of 2020’s historically catastrophic wildfire season, the Report also recommends USDA “Develop a forest and wildfire resilience strategy.” That strategy should include “Increas[ing] the rate of fuels reduction to decrease the risk of severe wildfire.” Specifically, the report suggests “that in order to significantly reduce the risk of high-intensity wildfire, USDA must increase the scale of its actions by two to four times more than is currently treated” (for reference, the agency treated 2.65 million acres in Fiscal Year 2020).

CCA will continue to keep you apprised of USDA’s efforts to develop and implement a Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Strategy.

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, on May 10 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.

UC Cooperative Extension Ranch Water Quality Videos
Last fall, the University of California Cooperative Extension published a Ranch Water Quality Planning Curriculum and you can take advantage of these resources for free on YouTube. To get started with the materials, UC Cooperative Extension, Marin County recommends watching the following five preview videos:

  1. Science of Grazing Management and Water Quality (link)
  2. Public Lands Grazing and Water Quality (link)
  3. Nutrient Dynamics and Water Quality on California Rangelands (link)
  4. Fate and Transport of Sediment (link)
  5. Rangeland Management of Waterborne Pathogens from Livestock and Wildlife (link)
To access the complete video series, including the full versions of these educational videos, click here to go to the series playlist.

CCA Upcoming Events

CCA Virtual Workshop: Reducing Wildfire Risk & Preparing for the Threat of Wildfire
May 26, 7-9AM
Join us on this Wednesday, for a virtual workshop to learn about reducing wildfire risk & preparing for the threat of wildfire. This event is free and open to all, but registration is required. Click here to register through the Zoom website.

Topics and Speakers
7:00am – 7:15am Welcome

Kirk Wilbur, Vice President of Government Affairs, California Cattlemen’s Association

7:15am – 7:45am Safely and effectively prepare for public safety power shutoffs by utility companies when necessitated by weather events which increase fire risk
Rich Noonan and Mike Wilson, Public Safety Specialist, PG&E

7:45am – 8:15am Establishing and maintaining adequate defensible space
Randy Harris, Battalion Chief/Fire Marshall, City of Paso Robles

8:15am – 8:45am Ensuring the producer is properly insured in the event of wildfire and is properly insured for any fire-suppression activities the producer undertakes
Kevin Hoppin, Vice President, Wraith, Scarlett & Randolph

Grant logos

Upcoming Events

NCBA Region VI “America the Beautiful” Webinar
May 27, 8-9:00am
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is hosting a webinar to solicit feedback on the Biden Administration’s plan to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and water resources by 2030. This webinar is aimed at producer’s in NCBA’s Region VI, which covers California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. To register in advance, click here.

PLC “America the Beautiful” Webinar
June 18, 8-9:00am
The Public Lands Council (PLC) is hosting a webinar to solicit feedback on the Biden Administration’s plan to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and water resources by 2030. This webinar is open to public lands permittees from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. To register in advance, click here.

CCA in the News

Rumors have been flying since an adventurous wolf went missing in California Los Angeles Times “The California Cattlemen’s Association, which had been keeping track of the wolf’s progress in weekly bulletins, has decided not to announce that OR-93’s radio collar has gone silent. ‘That fact doesn’t give us much new information that is beneficial to our members,’ said Kirk Wilbur, the association’s vice president of government affairs. ‘For all we know that wolf is still running around in the place where the collar quit sending signals.’” To continue reading, click here.

Running out of water and time: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought? CalMatters “Katie Roberti of the California Cattlemen’s Association told CalMatters that ranchers are facing the most severe conditions in decades. ‘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.” To continue reading, click here.

Industry News

Beef cattle grazing more help than harm for endangered plants and animals University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources “Research recently published in the journal Sustainability documents a role for livestock grazing to support the conservation of imperiled plant and animal species in California.” To continue reading, click here.

Hiring and retention in the US Forest Service is a growing issue Wildfire Today “A senior-level wildfire management person in the U.S. Forest Service (FS) told Wildfire Today that there are hundreds of vacant permanent firefighting positions in California. The agency’s difficulties in recruiting and hiring seasonal and permanent firefighting personnel has resulted in multiple hotshot crews not qualifying to respond to a fire with 18 personnel, the minimum required by interagency standards.” To continue reading, click here.

BLM to Begin Wild Burro Gather Near Ridgecrest Bureau of Land Management “The Bureau of Land Management Ridgecrest Field Office will begin a gather of 300 wild burros in the Centennial Herd Area located in San Bernardino and Inyo counties, roughly 10 miles north and east of Ridgecrest, on Friday, May 28. The gather is necessary to address resource impacts and reduce the risk of burro-vehicle collisions.” To continue reading, click here.

BLM issues seasonal fire restrictions for most of central California YubaNet.com “The Bureau of Land Management announces seasonal fire restrictions, including temporary limitations on target shooting, effective May 21. The restrictions are for public lands managed by the Central Coast, Mother Lode and Ukiah field offices due to dry conditions and wildland fire danger. These seasonal restrictions are in addition to the year-round statewide fire prevention order, issued on April 28, 2020, and will remain in effect until further notice.” To continue reading, click here.

May Magazine Cover

California Cattleman

May has arrived and this month’s magazine has something for everyone. CCA President Tony Toso shares a column on “A Closer Eye On A Possibility to Address Beef Market Manipulation.”

A few CCA members share about their direct-to-consumer beef sales, two members of California’s cattle ranching community are remembered and the 2021 Auction Market Directory is available all in this issue.

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