Democratic Legislators Release Two-House Budget Agreement; Negotiations Continue
As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, Governor Gavin Newsom on May 14 issued his “May Revise” of his Fiscal Year 2021-22 Proposed Budget. Bolstered by a $75.7 billion budget surplus and $27 billion in incoming federal aid to the state, Newsom’s budget proposal is a record-breaking $267.8 billion.
On Tuesday, legislative Democrats announced a two-house budget agreement that sets the stage for their negotiations with the Newsom Administration (the Legislature has a constitutional deadline of midnight on June 15 to pass a budget bill). A more detailed report from the Assembly Budget Committee is available here.
Many elements of the Legislative Democrats’ budget agreement approve provisions of the Governor’s May Revise. Below are a few highlights of significant differences between the May Revise and the Legislative Democrats’ vision for the budget:
- The two-house agreement would increase the Governor’s wildfire preparedness and resiliency spending by $292 million dollars, for a total FY 2021-22 appropriation of $1 billion;
- Legislative Democrats propose spending “$3.7 billion over three years to make needed climate resiliency investments,” a $2.4 billion increase over the May Revise proposal;
- The Legislative version of the proposed budget would make school meals free for all students, allowing students “who need a healthy breakfast or lunch…to receive one, year round at their local school.”
Legislative Bulletin will continue to keep you apprised of significant progress on budget negotiations, including reporting on the final budget bill passed by June 15.
Biden Administration Moves to Roll Back Trump-Era ESA Reforms
On Friday, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service announced their intentions to roll back several Trump-era regulatory reforms regarding implementation of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). CCA and our national affiliates the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association fought hard over the past four years to secure these regulatory reforms.
Specifically, the agencies propose to:
- Rescind a regulatory definition of “habitat” which limits critical habitat designations to a location which “currently or periodically contains the resources and conditions necessary to support one or more life processes of a species”;
- Rescind a regulation that allows the USFWS to exclude federal lands from critical habitat designation based on economic considerations and other factors;
- Reinstate the “blanket 4(d) rule,” which extends full endangered species protections to most species only listed as “threatened”;
- Prohibit the agencies from considering the economic impacts and certain other consequences of their ESA listing decisions; and
- Revise regulations governing interagency consultation under Section 7 of the ESA.
While the Biden Administration’s move is not unexpected, it is disappointing. CCA and our national affiliates will continue to advocate for ESA reforms which protect species without unduly burdening cattlemen.
For more information on the proposed rollbacks of the Trump-era ESA reforms, look for the June edition of CCA’s Hot Irons newsletter set to hit mailboxes next week.
CDFW Confirms May 25 Wolf Depredation in Plumas County
On Friday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) posted a depredation report to its gray wolf webpage confirming a wolf depredation of a cow in Eastern Plumas County on May 25. According to the report, bite marks and other injuries found on the cow carcass were consistent with a wolf attack. Additionally, CDFW and USDA APHIS Wildlife Services investigators observed wolf tracks near the carcass and ranch employees reported seeing three wolves nearby the previous day (including one wolf harassing a cow). Given all these factors, CDFW was able to confirm the depredation as a wolf kill.
While the report makes no reference to radio-collar GPS data or to the Lassen Pack, CCA notes that portions of eastern Plumas County are within the range of the Lassen Pack.
CCA Pushes for Congress to Act on Industry Concerns
Last week, CCA’s national affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees to notify the members of “the challenges currently facing our industry and the overall beef supply chain.” CCA is one of the 37 affiliate cattle groups signed on to the letter that outlines the following five industry concerns:
- Increasing Transparency in the Cattle Markets
- Expanding Beef Processing Capacity
- Supporting Labor Solutions to Strengthen the Cattle and Beef Supply Chain
- Supporting Industry Efforts to Reform “Product of the USA” Generic Labeling
- Ensuring Proper Oversight of Cattle Market Participants
“Cattle producers are frustrated, and with good reason. In sale barns and state meetings across the country, we’re hearing the same story of sky-high input costs and intense market volatility. Across the industry, there’s a consensus that market dynamics which consistently squash producer profitability are not sustainable for live cattle or beef producers,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “As members of Congress create policy that directly impacts business conditions for our producers, it is critical that they consider the grassroots input and firsthand experiences of folks on the ground. Our letter provides that perspective and reinforces how urgently we need something to shift here to strengthen the security of the beef supply chain. NCBA has strong working relationships with members on both sides of the aisle, we have grassroots policy to back the actions we outlined today, and we hope the conversation in Washington around these critical policy areas will progress quickly.”
CCA will provide updates on any action or movement from the letter or on these issues as available.
Have Your Livestock Suffered from Wildfire and Smoke?
UC Davis in collaboration with Oregon State University developed a survey to gauge the impact of the 2020 wildfires on grazing livestock health and production. The objective of this survey is to gather information to better understand to what extent cattle, sheep and goats have been impacted by direct exposure to wildfires or by indirect exposure to smoke inhalation during the fire season. Gaining this knowledge will enable us to better anticipate impacts of wildfires on livestock in the future and prepare outreach materials that help increase resilience to these disasters.
“We continue to see fires across the West each year impacting livestock grazing operations and causing direct harm and potentially more widespread impacts from smoke filled skies,” states Dr. Gaby Maier, Beef Cattle Herd Health & Production Assistant Specialist in Cooperative Extension, UC Davis. “Even if you do not think your livestock were impacted by wildfires in 2020, we would also like to hear from you.”
The survey should take about 3 to 5 minutes to complete. Your participation in this survey is completely voluntary, and your responses will be kept anonymous. All questions are related to the 2020 wildfire season between May and December 2020. Results will be reported through different outlets including the California Cattleman Magazine.
Earlier this year the research team asked commercial cattle producers in Butte County about the impacts from wildfires, to gauge the need for this larger survey. “In this preliminary survey we heard from ranchers about direct impacts from fire on rangelands such as cattle death loss and burns,” states Tracy Schohr, Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor in Butte, Plumas and Sierra Counties, University of California Cooperative Extension. “In addition, the majority of ranchers reported wildfire smoke increased respiratory infections, reduced weight gain, and lowered conception rates.”
All livestock producers, large and small, in the Western States are encouraged to complete the quick survey. Take the survey here.