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Federal Judge Overturns Trump Administration Navigable Waters Rule
Last Monday, Judge Rosemary Márquez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona issued a decision vacating the Trump Administration’s 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) and remanding it to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for further consideration. The NWPR was a revision of the Obama Administration’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) Rule; the NWPR sought to reign in the EPA’s expansive claims of jurisdiction under the 2015 WOTUS Rule, which vastly expanded federal permitting authority over features such as wetlands, ephemeral streams, and vernal pools. Instead, the NWPR outlined four clear categories of waters that were considered “waters of the United States.”
The court striking down the NWPR reinstates the 1986 regulatory definition of WOTUS. It is not immediately clear whether this decision applies nationwide or just to the six federally recognized tribes who litigated the case, but as the court did not provide that the ruling was limited to the parties litigating, the ruling will likely be applied nationwide. If this is the case, the ruling could expedite the Biden Administration’s stated plan to repeal and replace the NWPR.
On an Executive level, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are still proceeding with their ongoing rulemaking process which seeks to repeal and replace the NWPR in two stages. The Biden Administration has begun the first stage, which included a comment period that concluded Friday. The California Cattlemen’s Foundation (CCF) and California Cattlemen’s Association provided verbal and written comments to EPA reinforcing the concerns of the ranching community that the new rule will assert jurisdiction over ephemeral features, among other concerns.
In addition to repealing the NWPR, the Biden Administration also plans to create a new definition of “waters of the United States,” which may provide clarity on federal jurisdiction. CCA and its national affiliate, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, have been actively engaged in this process and have repeatedly voiced concerns about the new rule. As the rulemaking process continues, CCF and CCA will ensure that ranchers’ concerns are voiced. CCA will continue to provide updates on the process.
Cattlemen Balk at President Biden’s Proclamation of National Wilderness Month
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden proclaimed September 2021 as “National Wilderness Month.” In part, the proclamation calls on the American people to “support [the] designation and protection” of wilderness areas.
The proclamation was swiftly condemned by CCA affiliates the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council (PLC). In a press release, the groups wrote that “President Biden’s proclamation…outlined the president’s clear support for expanded use of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Designations made under this act prohibit the use of motorized vehicles or mechanical tools, in many cases effectively banning the active management that is necessary to curb the risk of catastrophic wildfire” and otherwise maintain healthy landscapes.
“When federal agencies prioritize blanket designations over targeted, active conservation, they send the signal that they only care about the name of the area — not the condition of the resources,” said PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “Conservation is an action verb. Public lands ranchers have a wealth of skill and knowledge in successful conservation, and we welcome continued opportunities to work with the Biden Administration to share that knowledge.”
CCA’s own Federal Lands policy opposes “further designation of land into wilderness classification” because of the limitations of livestock grazing and the mismanagement of land and resources that results from such classification. In recent years, CCA has opposed numerous wilderness designation proposals on federal lands within the state, and we will continue to do so, advocating instead for active management of our public lands resources.
SWRCB Issues Specific Instructions for Livestock Watering in the Scott & Shasta River Watersheds
The emergency regulation for the Scott River and Shasta River watersheds went into effect last Monday after being approved by the Office of Administrative Law. The emergency regulation provides the SWRCB with curtailment authority to protect minimum instream flows, establishes minimum human health and livestock watering provisions and limits diversions for livestock from September through January.
According to a notice the SWRCB released last Wednesday, the requirements related to inefficient livestock watering are effective immediately and are not dependent on curtailment orders. In accordance with the emergency regulation, from September through January, all surface water diversions for livestock watering must be limited to the quantities or methods identified in the emergency regulation.
Specific questions can be sent to the Scott/Shasta email at ScottShastaDrought@waterboards.ca.gov or can be left in a message on the Scott/Shasta Drought Phone Line at (916) 327-3113. You can also reach out to Victoria Rodriguez at the California Cattlemen’s Foundation for help with the regulations or forms.
SWRCB Rescinds Curtailment Status of Certain Rightsholders in Lower Russian River Watershed
The SWRCB announced last Thursday that it is rescinding the curtailment status of certain rightsholders in the Lower Russian River based on evaluations of water demand for the month of September.
Information on curtailment status is available on the Scott/Shasta drought website in the form of an interactive map and table. You can search by your water right ID for the curtailment status of your water right.
The website now also has a tool the public can use to review the status of responses to the curtailment orders. The tool is available through the website, or through this link: Curtailment Response Metrics.
Specific questions can be sent to the Russian River Drought Response Team at RussianRiverDrought@waterboards.ca.gov or (916) 341-5318. You can also reach out to Victoria Rodriguez at the California Cattlemen’s Foundation for help with the regulations or forms.
Hours of Service Exemptions for Livestock Haulers Extended Through November 30
On March 18, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an Expanded Emergency Declaration exempting livestock haulers from compliance with the federal Hours of Service rules that limit drive time. Under the Emergency Declaration, Hours of Service rest requirements remain in effect, meaning that once a driver returns to his or her “normal reporting location,” that individual must still receive a minimum of 10 hours of off-duty rest.
The Emergency Declaration has been extended on five prior occasions, most recently through August 31. Last Tuesday, however, FMCSA again issued an extension of the modified Emergency Declaration, which expands the hours of service exemption through November 30.
The current Emergency Declaration applies to a limited class of freight, including “livestock and livestock feed.” As with previous extensions of the Emergency Declaration, only finished feed products remain exempt from the ordinary Hours of Service regulation; ingredients used in feed product are not exempt from Hours of Service rules.
In its latest extension, FMCSA has instituted a new reporting requirement for those utilizing the exemption. According to FMCSA, “Motor carriers that voluntarily operate under the terms of this extension and amendment of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 are to report within 5 days after the end of each month their reliance on the Declaration. To report, motor carriers will access their portal account at https://portal.fmcsa.dot.gov/login, log-in with their FMCSA portal credentials, and access the Emergency Declaration Reporting under the Available FMCSA Systems section of the page.”
According to CCA affiliate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, “FMCSA is trying to collect more data on who is using these emergency exemptions in order to make decisions in the future.”
In response to FMCSA’s initial March 2020 action, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order also exempting haulers engaged in intrastate or interstate transportation from California’s Hours of Service regulations. California’s exemption remains in effect as long as FMCSA’s Declaration remains in effect.
Reservations for Tradeshow Booths Now Open
CCA invites you to exhibit at the 2021 California Cattle Industry Tradeshow held in conjunction with the CCA/CCW Annual Convention. This year’s tradeshow will be held December 1-3 at the Peppermill Resort Hotel in Reno, Nevada. With over 100 exhibitors at the 2019 event you won’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with those from across the state active in California’s cattle industry. Get all the details and reserve your booth today at https://calcattlemen.org/convention2021.
Initial booth space reservations will be taken through Friday, October 8. Tradeshow Questions? Contact Lisa at email@example.com or (916) 444-0845.
College Students: Join the CCA Team as a Convention Intern Dec. 1-3
CCA is currently looking for hard-working college students to help put on the 105th CCA/CCW Convention and Tradeshow happening December 1-3 at the Peppermill in Reno. While interns will help run CCA’s tradeshow booth, onsite registration and other behind the scenes tasks at the event, they will also have the opportunity to attend select meetings, general sessions and have access to the tradeshow with a complimentary registration. Additionally, the interns will be able to interact with professionals and beef industry leaders at the most attended meeting of the year.
Interested in being part of this year’s team and gaining experience? Please send a resume and one page letter detailing why you would like to be a convention intern to Katie Roberti at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, October 8.
UPDATED: Forest Service Closes all Region 5 Forests, Grazing Permittees Exempted
Last week, Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) announced the closure of all National Forests throughout the state of California. The closure order will remain in effect through September 17 at 11:59 p.m. (unless extended).
“I have made the difficult decision to temporarily close all R5 National Forests in order to better provide public and firefighter safety due to extreme fire conditions throughout the state, and strained firefighting resources throughout the country,” Eberlien wrote in an email.
The closure order does not apply to livestock grazing permittees. Specifically, the closure order exempts “Persons with a Forest Service non-special-use written authorization to conduct nonrecreational activities, such as harvesting timber or forest products, or grazing livestock,” as well as various other classes of permitted Forest users.
Permittees with questions or concerns about the Forest Service’s closure order may contact the CCA office at (916) 444-0845.
President Biden Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Northern California Wildfires
In late September, President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for areas of the state impacted by the Dixie Fire and River Fire. The disaster declaration was made in response to a request made by Governor Gavin Newsom and will make federal funding available to “affected individuals in the counties of Lassen, Nevada, Placer, and Plumas,” according to a White House statement.
The major disaster declaration makes federal funding available on a cost-sharing basis to the State, local governments in the four covered counties and nonprofit organizations in order to fund “emergency protective measures.” The declaration also opens up federal funds on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures throughout the state.
For individuals and business owners harmed by the Dixie and River fires, the declaration establishes those individuals’ eligibility for “grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help…recover from the effects of the disaster.” Some of those programs, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were detailed by CCA Vice President of Government Affairs Kirk Wilbur in a November virtual workshop available here. An article about these programs was also included in the December 2020 edition of California Cattleman.
Residents and business owners in Lassen, Nevada, Placer and Plumas counties who have sustained losses from the Dixie or River fires may apply for assistance online here or by calling 1-800-621-3362 any day of the week between 7:00am and 10:00pm.
While the presidential major disaster declaration currently only covers areas impacted by the Dixie and River fires, it will likely be expanded soon to cover other areas of the state impacted by this year’s wildfires. According to a press release from Governor Newsom’s office, “Other fires, including the Caldor Fire, may be included once fire conditions allow state, local and federal officials to safely assess the scope of damage.”
2021 CCA Scholarship Applications Now Available
Applications for the 2021 CCA Scholarships are being accepted now through October 1. In 2020, CCA awarded over $51,000 in scholarships to students studying agriculture, although scholarship amounts and quantities vary year to year.
Current CCA members (producer, feeder or YCC) that are currently enrolled (or accepted for fall 2021) at a university or college are eligible to apply. Past recipients of the CCA scholarship program may also apply again this year. For a complete list of awards and to download the application visit calcattlemen.org/scholarship. Contact Katie in the CCA office at email@example.com with any questions.
USDA Announces Oct. 12 Deadline for CFAP 2
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced that October 12 is the deadline by which all eligible agricultural producers must apply for or modify their applications under Round 2 of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (“CFAP 2”).
As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, FSA reopened applications under CFAP beginning April 5. CFAP 2 provides payments of $55 per head for a producer’s highest inventory of eligible livestock owned between April 16 and August 31, 2020. Cull cattle and breeding stock are ineligible for the per-head payment. More information on CFAP 2 can be found here.
Upcoming CCA Events
Upcoming Industry Events
Public Lands Council Annual Meeting (Virtual)
Registration for the virtual event is only $50. Additional details regarding the event are available here and ranchers may register for the event here.
CCA in the News
Drought forces North American ranchers to sell off their future Reuters “‘I’m seeing ponds that usually may get low, but not where they’re cracked dirt,’ said Toso, president of the California Cattlemen’s Association. ‘There’s nothing in them.’” To continue reading, click here.
Legal Ledger Brief: National forests closed in California Western Livestock Journal “The closures will last through Sept. 17, unless extended further. California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) noted prior orders have exempted ‘persons with a Forest Service non-special-use written authorization to conduct nonrecreational activities, such as harvesting timber or forest products or grazing livestock.’” To continue reading, click here.
RMA Revises Dates for the Pasture, Rangeland and Forage and Apiculture Insurance Programs USDA Risk Management Agency “Agricultural producers now will have until December 1 to make coverage decisions and complete reporting activities for the Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Pilot Insurance Program (PRF) and Apiculture Pilot Insurance Program (API). The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) is making this change and other updates to these two policies based on feedback from stakeholders.” To continue reading, click here.
Years later, California voters still wait on water projects Associated Press News “In 2014, in the middle of a severe drought that would test California’s complex water storage system like never before, voters told the state to borrow $7.5 billion and use part of it to build projects to stockpile more water.” To continue reading, click here.
Why The South Is Decades Ahead Of The West In Wildfire Prevention NPR “California legislators are currently considering a bill that would protect burners from being charged for the firefighting resources that would be needed if a burn escapes. An earlier version of the bill would have copied laws from Southeastern states, protecting burners from civil liability, too, unless they were grossly negligent. After opposition from the insurance industry, that provision was removed. While rare, some prescribed burns have escaped and burned into developed areas, threatening or even destroying homes.” To continue reading, click here.
As California burns, anger and pointed questions for caretaker of its vast forests The Sacramento Bee “Ivo Dachev was among the first to lose his home to the Caldor Fire — and wanted to know why the fire wasn’t smothered in its infancy in the Eldorado National Forest.” To continue reading, click here.
New episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast!
Jack Rice and Noah Lopez of Western Resource Strategies, LLC. talk about how they are now providing regulatory expertise and professional support to all California cattle producers through the Rancher Technical Assistance Program with funding from The California Cattle Council. Plus, past CCA presidents give their input on the success of the 2021 Cattle-PAC Dinner Dance + Auction. Listen now at https://calcattlemen.org/podcast, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.