SWRCB Proposes Emergency Regulation to Curtail Diversions in the Mill and Deer Creek Watersheds
On Thursday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued a notice signaling its intent to consider a drought emergency regulation for the Mill and Deer Creek watersheds, which it will consider at a Board meeting Wednesday. The notice and the proposed regulation are available here.
The emergency regulation would allow the SWRCB to issue curtailment orders to pre- and post-1914 water rightsholders in the Mill and Deer Creek watersheds to protect water supplies necessary to meet human health and safety needs, and specifically to protect endangered and threatened fish species.
Mill Creek and Deer Creek are tributaries to the Sacramento River, located in Tehama County. Both creeks support natural populations of threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon and threatened California Central Valley steelhead.
Under the emergency regulation, all water rightsholders issued a curtailment order are required, within seven calendar days of the date of the curtailment order, to submit under penalty of perjury a certification of one or more actions taken in response to the curtailment order.
Rightsholders will be mailed any curtailments under the emergency regulation. Within the draft regulation the text states that water rightsholders and claimants in the Mill and Deer Creek watersheds are strongly advised to subscribe to the Mill and Deer Creek drought email distribution list, or frequently check the SWRCB’s drought webpage to receive updated information regarding water diversion curtailment and reporting orders and water unavailability.
It should be noted that curtailment orders do not implicate water already diverted to storage in stock ponds and reservoirs. The SWRCB has clarified that “curtailment of water rights does not limit the use of water previously stored in a pond or reservoir. Therefore, uses of previously stored water authorized by a permit, license, registration or certificate can continue.” However, the proposed regulation does authorize the SWRCB to require reporting of prior diversions, including diversion to storage.
CCA will continue to keep members apprised of further developments related to the drought and water curtailment orders.
President Biden Announces the Global Methane Pledge at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Change
On Friday, President Biden convened the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate to urge fellow leaders of major economies to commit to faster climate action during this decade.
During the forum, the President announced a Global Methane Pledge that aims to cut global methane pollution by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030. In response to the announcement, CCA’s national partner the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) sent out a press release stating that the administration will need the “voluntary participation, scientific research and practical knowledge of U.S. cattle producers” to achieve sustainable conservation goals.
As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, last month the NCBA announced that the U.S. cattle industry will be working to demonstrate climate neutrality by 2040. With the President’s goal in the Global Methane Pledge being a decade sooner than NCBA’s commitment, it remains to be seen how this will impact the cattle industry’s efforts towards climate neutrality.
In a recent article released last Tuesday, Dr. Frank Mitloehner and Sara E. Place discussed climate neutrality in the beef and dairy sectors. The article states that the cattle sectors can reach climate neutrality by 2050 by reducing methane emissions in the coming decades by 18-32 percent. It is currently unclear what percentage livestock methane emissions will need to be reduced to meet the overall 30 percent goal by 2030.
As noted by NCBA, the Biden Administration has not suggested any policy restricting U.S. beef consumption to further its methane reduction goals. CCA will continue to keep members updated on further developments in federal climate policy that impact the beef industry.
2021 CCA Scholarship Applications Due Next Friday
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
CCA-Sponsored Bills Pass Legislature, Await Governor’s Action
September 10 was the last day of the 2021 Legislative calendar, with two CCA-sponsored bills advancing for Governor Gavin Newsom’s consideration.
AB 1103 (Dahle), which would establish a statewide framework for local “Livestock Pass” programs, and SB 332 (Dodd), which incentivizes prescribed fire application by minimizing practitioners’ financial liability, each sailed through both houses of the Legislature without taking a single “no” vote in policy committees, fiscal committees or on the floors of the Assembly and Senate.
SB 332 passed off the Assembly floor on September 1, with the Senate concurring in Assembly amendments the following day, and was presented to the Governor on Thursday. AB 1103 passed out of the Senate on the last day of session, with the Assembly concurring in Senate amendments just an hour before session gaveled to a close for the year.
Newsom has until October 10 to act on bills sent to him by the Legislature. CCA will continue to keep you apprised of developments on AB 1103 and SB 332, and a full update on CCA’s 2021 legislative priorities will be available in the October edition of California Cattleman.
Last-Minute Budget Bills Fund CCA Priorities
In the final week of session, state legislators passed several bills intended to implement major provisions of the 2021-22 State Budget. The package includes a “budget bill junior,” which amends the main budget bill, and more than a dozen budget trailer bills (“trailer bills” enact the State Budget by implementing specific changes in law for a particular agency or policy area).
The junior budget bill includes a significant CCA priority in the form of a Prescribed Fire Liability Pilot Program which will “support coverage for losses from permitted prescribed fires by non-public entities.” The Pilot Program will effectively address a concern which CCA had sought to address earlier this year when CCA-sponsored SB 332 (Dodd) was introduced in the Legislature.
SB 332 originally sought to shield prescribed fire practitioners from liability for escaped fires which damage private property, as such liability concerns are the largest disincentive to prescribed fire application. To remove opposition to the bill, however, SB 332 was ultimately amended to instead immunize prescribed burners from Cal Fire’s recovery of costs incurred in suppressing escaped prescribed fires. Nevertheless, CCA continued to advocate for liability protections for prescribed burners, pushing legislators to fund a $25 million prescribed fire claims fund. While the $20 million Prescribed Fire Liability Pilot Program falls just short of CCA’s target, it represents significant progress toward shielding prescribed burners from liability and will hopefully incentivize greater application of controlled burns within the state.
The junior budget bill also appropriates $3 million for a “wolf conflict compensation pilot program.” According to the bill’s language, this money will be available to compensate ranchers for “verified loss of livestock” and for “the impacts of wolf presence on livestock,” and may also be used to fund ranchers’ voluntary deterrence efforts. It is important to note that while the bill funds a pilot program, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has not yet determined the parameters of such a program – CCA staff is engaged in ongoing discussions with the Department and other stakeholders to determine how such a program should be structured.
For more information about the junior budget bill and 15 trailer bills – particularly significant additional funding for prescribed fire and other wildfire prevention and forest resilience funding – see the October edition of CCA’s Hot Irons print newsletter.
USDA Expands ELAP Program to Cover Costs of Feed Transport Necessitated by Drought
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will update its Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to help drought-stricken ranchers cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock.
ELAP already reimburses ranchers for the cost of hauling water during drought. Under the change announced last week, ELAP will now also cover feed transportation costs in areas which have a drought intensity of “D2” for eight consecutive weeks according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, have a drought intensity of “D3” or greater for any duration or where USDA otherwise “has determined a shortage of local or regional feed availability.”
According to USDA, “eligible ranchers will be reimbursed 60% of feed transportation costs above what would have been incurred in a normal year” for such costs incurred on or after January 1, 2021. That 60% will be applied to a “national cost formula…which will not include the first 25 miles and distances exceeding 1,000 transportation miles.” For 2021, USDA has set the initial cost formula at $6.60/mile, which may be adjusted on a regional basis.
USDA will release further details and an application tool later this month on its ELAP webpage; ranchers can find contact information for their local USDA Service Center here. The deadline to file an ELAP application for costs incurred in the 2021 program year is January 31, 2022.
CCA Presses Congress to Preserve Tax Policies that Protect Ranchers
Earlier this month, CCA joined the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and more than 330 other organizations comprising the “Tax Aggie Coalition” in issuing a letter to leadership of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees urging them to preserve sound tax policies which protect ranches and other family-owned businesses.
The Tax Aggie Coalition’s outreach comes as legislators begin drafting legislation implementing President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda as outlined in the recently adopted Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Resolution. The letter asks that legislators “not alter or eliminate long-standing tax code provisions that are fundamental to the financial health of production agriculture and the businesses that supply its inputs, transport its products, market its commodities, and support the vibrancy of U.S. livestock and crop production.”
Specifically, the letter asks that legislators protect the viability of family-owned businesses by preserving existing tax provisions “such as stepped-up basis, like-kind exchanges, the Section 199A small business deduction” and by leaving in place existing estate tax provisions.
In a press release announcing the letter, NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Danielle Beck stated “This is not a partisan issue; in fact, it’s an issue that affects every single American. With more than 370 million acres expected to change hands in the next two decades, preserving long-standing provisions in the federal tax code is a win-win situation for producers and consumers alike…without federal tax policy that supports a viable business climate for the next generation of producers, building on the environmental and economic contributions of today’s producers is impossible and risks compromising our nation’s ability to produce a safe, abundant and affordable food supply. The consequences of taxing family farms and ranches out of business completely undermines the ‘Build Back Better’ agenda.”
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.
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.