Governor Newsom Expands Drought Emergency, Urges Water Conservation
On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation extending a drought state of emergency to nine additional counties: Inyo, Marin, Mono, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz. The declaration comes after similar proclamations on April 21 and May 10, which established a drought state of emergency in 41 other counties. In total, 50 counties are currently covered by drought declarations, with only Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, and Ventura counties not presently covered by a state of emergency designated by the Governor.
As with the prior two proclamations, Thursday’s state of emergency declaration 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, and 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.” Already this year the SWRCB has issued curtailments for the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta watershed and the Russian River watershed, with others likely to follow later this summer.
In addition to the drought emergency proclamation, Newsom on Thursday issued an executive order calling on “all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent from their 2020 levels.” In conjunction with that Order, the Administration unveiled a “Save Our Water” website with suggestions for conserving water.
CCA will continue to keep you apprised of any state and federal actions taken in response to California’s ongoing drought conditions.
Lawmakers Add $500 Million to Wildfire Prevention Budget
Last week, Legislative Bulletin reported that a budget bill passed by the Legislature on June 28 contained a grand total of only $458 million for wildfire prevention and resilience in Fiscal Year 2021-22, down from the $708 million proposed in Governor Newsom’s “May Revise” and down substantially from the $1 billion proposed by legislators earlier this year.
But last Monday, AB 161 (Ting) was amended to provide that “up to an additional $500,000,000 of General Fund moneys may be made available for wildfire prevention and forest resilience activities in the 2021-22 fiscal year if the Department of Finance determines additional funding is needed.” On Friday, Governor Newsom signed the provision into law.
It is important to note that the $500 million is not immediately available to fund wildfire and forest resilience efforts. As Capital Public Radio reports, “The additional $500 million will not be readily available. Instead, spending the extra funds would require sign-off from lawmakers and the administration.”
President Biden, Secretary Vilsack Take Steps to Improve Cattle and Beef Supply Chains
On Friday, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. Of particular interest to cattle producers, the Executive Order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to take various actions to increase accountability in the supply chain by instituting rulemakings under the Packers and Stockyards Act, initiating a review and rulemaking of “Product of USA” labels and expanding farmers’ and ranchers’ access to new markets.
Shortly after President Biden signed the Executive Order, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a press release announcing its intentions “to make significant investments to expand processing capacity and increase competition in meat and poultry processing to make agricultural markets more accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient for American farmers and ranchers.”
In addition to committing to the rulemakings outlined in President Biden’s Executive Order, USDA announced that it will “invest $500 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand meat and poultry processing capacity” and will invest “more than $150 million for existing small and very small processing facilities to help them weather COVID, compete in the marketplace and get the support they need to reach more customers.”
CCA will keep you informed as USDA formally initiates the rulemakings directed in the Executive Order and takes action to fund expansions in processing capacity and will work to ensure that these programs and regulations work to benefit cattle producers.
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 7/14: NRCS California Offering $22 Million Through Conservation Incentive Contracts Pilot Program
In June, the California state office of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that it is offering $22,774,000 in funding through Conservation Inventive Contracts, a new option available through the agency’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
According to NRCS, “California is one of only four states in the nation to pilot this important program to help agricultural producers, including Tribes, alleviate the immediate impacts of drought and other natural resource challenges on working lands.” Practices eligible for funding under these five-year contracts include “forest management plans, tree/shrub establishment, brush management, prescribed grazing, pasture and hay planting, wildlife habitat, livestock watering systems, and cover crops.’
On Friday, NRCS sent out an email announcing that the deadline for accept applications for this targeted funding has been extended through this Wednesday, July 14.
“As you all have heard the Governor’s recent announcement to increase the number of emergency counties in the state, we have received requests from many of you to extend the application deadline for CIC,” Carlos Suarez, USDA NRCS State Conservationalist said in the email. “Also, I wanted to let you know that If NRCS receives a program application request by telephone, email, or letter, an NRCS representative can prepare the application form (Form NRCS-CPA-1200), using the date NRCS received the request in order to establish the application cut-off deadline has been met, with either a copy of the request, or a note about the application request if received verbally.”
You can apply for Conservation Incentive Contracts through your local NRCS office (which you can find here) or you can download an application here.
UPDATED: California Agricultural Neighbors Webinar Series Closes Out This Week
In response to continued outbreaks of pathogenic E. coli strain O157:H7 associated with leafy greens in the Salinas Valley, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and Monterey County Farm Bureau in January convened a group of stakeholders known as the California Agricultural Neighbors (CAN), seeking to better understand and prevent the conditions that contribute to such E. coli outbreaks. Both CCA and our local affiliate the Monterey County Cattlemen’s Association are participants in the CAN effort.
On June 23, CDFA published CAN’s June 2021 Interim Report (ahead of the report’s release, CDFW convened a “town hall” to discuss the topics addressed in the report; a video of the town hall meeting can be found here). The report identifies “collective themes of discussion, recommendations [f]or consideration, or noted opportunities for subject matter expertise to expand on current knowledge and understanding” identified in the CAN stakeholder process to date.
To further explore these themes, recommendations and opportunities, CDFA has been hosting a three-part webinar series “to learn about CAN and hear food safety recommendations from scientific experts.” The final webinar in the series, “On-farm factors that may affect STEC survival and contact with produce,” will be held this Wednesday from 9:00-11:00am(further details and registration can be found here).
Part one of the series, “Reservoirs of E. coli O157:H7 and other STEC,” was held June 30 and a recording is available here. Part two, “Off-farm factors that may affect STEC movement on the landscape,” was held last Wednesday and a recording is available here.
FSA Seeking Nominees for County Committee Members
Last month USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced it was starting to accept applications for county committee members. “Elections will occur in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally,” an FSA press release states. “All nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 2, 2021.”
According to the release, “Agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in a USDA program, and reside in the LAA that is up for election this year, may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. A cooperating producer is someone who has provided information about their farming or ranching operation to FSA, even if they have not applied or received program benefits.”
To learn more about the committee elections click here and to find out if you are located in an LAA with an election happening this year contact your local FSA office; you can find contact information for your local FSA office here.
USDA Announces Deadlines for CRP Signups
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) through July 23. Applications for USDA’s CRP Grasslands program will be open from July 12 through August 20.
According to USDA, the agency has “updated both signup options to provide greater incentives for producers and increase [CRP’s] conservation benefits, including reducing the impacts of climate change.”
CRP and CRP Grasslands are competitive application processes which provide awarded landowners annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes. According to USDA, “Through CRP, producers and landowners establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland.”
Producers can learn more about the CRP General Signup here, or about CRP Grasslands here. To enroll, producers should contact their local county FSA office; you can find contact information for your local FSA office here.