U.S. House of Representatives Passes Two Important Bills on Market Transparency
Last Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to pass two important bills on market transparency that are strongly supported by ranchers nationwide. The widespread bipartisan support that H.R. 5290 and the Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 have received in Congress demonstrates the urgent need for more data to be available to ranchers to avoid the negative impacts of market risk.
CCA has been zealously advocating for greater market transparency, along with our partners at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, to shed light on the price and volume of cattle purchases which is essential for effective price negotiation.
Chairman David Scott of the House Agriculture Committee introduced H.R. 5290 in September and it was quickly unanimously passed out of the Agriculture Committee to the House floor. This bill would extend the authorization for livestock mandatory reporting (LMR) through September 30, 2022. Many ranchers consider LMR one of the most important tools for market transparency to aid in making informed decisions in the highly complex cattle market. The current LMR provision is set to expire with the allocated federal funding on February 18, 2022.
Another win in the market transparency space, the Cattle Contract Library Act of 2021 also passed through the House with an overwhelming vote of 411-13 in favor of passage. The measure is being led by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and has seen strong bipartisan support thus far in the legislature. The creation of a Cattle Contract Library would provide ranchers with the market data they need to make the best-informed decisions in the cattle market.
It is currently unclear when the United States Senate will act on these measures, but CCA will continue to inform members of any progress.
CARB Approves Amendments to SORE Program
On Thursday the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a variety of amendments to the CARB Small Off-Road Engines (SORE) Program. These amendments will be implemented in a two-phase plan with the first phase being implemented 2024-2027 and the second phase being implemented 2028 and beyond.
The amendments include setting new engine emission standards to zero in two phases, expanding existing emission reduction credit programs, adding a new tiered emission reduction credit program for zero-emission generators and making updates to test procedures and regulations.
The timeline for amendments applicable to portable generators differs from the rest of the equipment regulated under SORE. For portable generators the amendments include stricter emission standards but not zero in phase one, emission standards at zero in phase two and manufacturers can earn credits through 2027 and these credits can be used through 2032.
Other amendments include extending some of the emissions durability periods, reducing the number of engines for compliance testing, adding new tests to reduce fuel spills or leaks and removing the variance provision.
According to CARB staff, the SORE Program is predominantly intended to affect manufacturers due to the effects of the regulations being limited to new equipment. Additionally, there are certain pieces of equipment that are exempted from the regulations due to language in the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) that prohibits states from regulating them. The CAA preempts new engines used in construction or farm equipment under 175 horsepower. Such equipment includes things like large chainsaws, some brush cutters, stationary equipment such as stationary generators and equipment that uses diesel such as tractors and high-powered lawnmowers. More information about equipment exempted under the CAA can be found here.
The amendments have been approved by CARB and will soon be released for a 15-day comment period. The California Cattlemen’s Foundation will be submitting written comments on these amendments. CCA will continue to update members on SORE regulations.
SWRCB Suspends Some Curtailments in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed
The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) suspended curtailments on some of the water rights on Tuesday for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed (Delta). The suspensions went into effect on Wednesday and will remain in effect until further notice.
Information on the current curtailment status of your water rights can be found on the Delta Watershed Curtailment Status List. More information about drought in the Delta can be found on the Delta Drought webpage. Questions about drought response in the Delta can be sent to Bay-Delta@waterboards.ca.gov or can be directed at the Delta Drought phone line at (916) 319-0960.
Information about drought response in other watersheds can be found here. For any questions about curtailment notices or how to comply, please contact the Ranchers Technical Assistance Program at (916) 409-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FDA Releases Agricultural Water Rule for Produce Operations
Last week, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally published a proposed rule outlining how the agency will address water quality concerns for non-sprout produce operations. Under the proposed rule, produce farms would be required to conduct annual water quality assessments to consider possible sources of contamination for pre-harvest agricultural water used to grow produce and to identify how potential contamination risks may be mitigated.
The new rule comes years after a 2015 Produce Safety Rule was paused in 2017 due to overwhelming industry outcry that the rule was too complex to implement.
The proposed rule on several occasions identifies livestock operations as potential contaminant sources for agricultural water. However, in a memo to its state affiliates, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) wrote that NCBA has already been assured by FDA “that – as proposed – this rule places responsibility for mitigating water quality and possible contamination issues solely on produce operations, not on any adjacent livestock operations.”
The FDA is accepting public comment on the proposed rule through April 5, 2022; cattle ranching industry groups like NCBA and CCA will be providing comments underscoring the necessity that the rule not burden adjacent land users such as cattle producers. FDA also intends to conduct two virtual stakeholder meetings on the proposed rule, to be announced at a later date.
Hours of Service Exemptions for Livestock Haulers Extended Through February 28
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 six prior occasions, most recently through November 30. In late November, FMCSA again issued an extension of the modified Emergency Declaration, which continues the hours of service exemption through February 28.
The current Emergency Declaration applies to a limited class of freight, including livestock and finished livestock feed. Those operating under the exemption must report their reliance on the exemption shortly after the end of each month, a requirement first imposed under the previous August 31 extension (more information regarding this reporting requirement can be found in Legislative Bulletin’s prior report on the exemption).
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.