California Legislature Reconvenes Today Amid Significant Political Developments
The California Legislature reconvenes for the second year of the 2021-22 Legislative Session today after previously adjourning on September 10. This year legislators are likely to continue focusing on homelessness and housing issues, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and improving the state’s wildfire resilience. CCA’s government affairs team will prioritize sensible wildfire prevention and forest resilience policy, renewal of 2017 legislation that allowed ranchers and other water users to self-certify diversion measurements required by 2015’s SB 88 and defeating anti-animal-agriculture legislation likely to be advanced by extreme environmental groups.
Updates on legislative developments and further details of CCA’s legislative priorities will be available in Legislative Bulletin in the weeks and months ahead.
State legislators this year will also consider how to allocate what the Legislative Analyst’s Office expects to be a $31 billion budget surplus. The opening volley in those negotiations will come no later than next Monday, the deadline by which Governor Gavin Newsom must submit to the Legislature his proposed 2022-23 budget. Legislative Bulletin will bring you more details of the Proposed Budget in the coming weeks.
All of this happens in the context of an election year, with legislators ever-mindful of a June 7 primary and November 8 general election. Those elections have been shaken up by once-in-a-decade redistricting which recently reshaped California’s Congressional districts and state Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization maps based on the results of the 2020 Census. An excellent summation of the recently-submitted redistricting maps – and their likely implications for legislators – is available from CalMatters here. Several state and federal lawmakers have already signaled their intent not to seek reelection this year in part due to new district maps they view as disadvantageous.
One final legislative development to note: Saturday was January 1, the date upon which most bills signed into law last year took effect. That includes CCA-sponsored AB 1103, which enables the development of county Livestock Pass programs to ensure rancher access to livestock during wildfires and other emergencies, and SB 332, which reduces prescribed fire practitioners’ liability risk in order to incentivize application of prescribed fire.
New Episode of Stories from California Cattle Country
Today’s episode is a visit with Loren Poncia of Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales and Eric Miller of V. Miller Meats, a Sacramento Butcher that has carried Stemple Creek beef since opening seven years ago. Listen and see photos from the ranch and butcher shop at https://calcattlecouncil.org/stemplecreekandvmillermeats/.
The episode is also available on a variety of platforms for streaming podcasts. Stories from California Cattle Country is produced by the California Cattlemen’s Foundation with support from the California Cattle Council.
SWRCB Updates Temporary Curtailment Suspensions
On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced the extension of temporary curtailment suspensions for all water rightsholders in the Shasta River Watershed until at least January 31. These suspensions are contingent on a flow rate of at least 135 cubic feet per second being sustained at the Yreka gage. As a reminder, the SWRCB prohibits inefficient livestock watering through the use of unlined ditches from September through January whether or not there are curtailments in place. More information is available on the Scott River and Shasta River Drought Response webpage.
Additionally, on Thursday the SWRCB sent out a reminder that all curtailments in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed remain temporarily suspended until tonight at midnight unless further extended. The SWRCB has not yet issued further suspensions in the Delta; therefore, until further suspensions are issued all curtailments will go back into effect after midnight tonight. You can check the status of your water rights on the Delta Watershed Curtailment Status List. More information can be found on the Delta Drought webpage.
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.
Biden Administration Releases Action Plan for a More Competitive and Resilient Meat Supply Chain
This morning, the White House held an invitation-only virtual roundtable with a small group of cattle producers to hear concerns related to cattle markets and packer concentration. At the meeting, the Administration also announced the “Biden-Harris Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain.”
In a fact sheet announcing the Action Plan, the Administration highlights that just four meat-packing companies control 85% of the beef market and argues that “when too few companies control such a large portion of the market, our food supply chains are susceptible to shocks,” such as those caused in recent years by plant fires, the COVID-19 pandemic and cyberattacks. “Our overreliance on just a handful of giant processors leaves us all vulnerable, with any disruptions at these bottlenecks rippling throughout our food system,” the fact sheet notes.
Highlights of the Action Plan include allocating $1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to expanding independent processing capacity; a commitment to issue new rules concerning the Packers and Stockyards Act and “Product of the USA” labeling in 2022; the announcement of a forthcoming online portal where producers can anonymously inform the Departments of Justice and Agriculture of suspected violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act; and efforts to increase market transparency.
For more details about the Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, see the White House fact sheet, here.
Biden Administration Solicits Information on America the Beautiful “Atlas”
Today the Biden Administration released a request for information to inform its development of an “American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas.” The Atlas will guide how the Administration quantifies conservation efforts as it seeks to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and waters by 2030 via its “America the Beautiful” Initiative (colloquially known as 30×30).
The request for information closely follows a year-end progress report on the Administration’s 2021 progress towards the America the Beautiful initiative.
Specifically, the Administration is soliciting information regarding what science and data sources should be included in the Atlas, how the Atlas can reflect conservation efforts already underway across the country (including on state, local and private lands) and how the Atlas can best reflect the benefits of conservation efforts on species biodiversity, climate resilience and other outcomes.
Once formally published in the Federal Register, the request for information will be open for public comment for 60 days (assuming the notice is published tomorrow, the deadline for comments will be March 4). The Administration will also host three 90-minute virtual public listening sessions to solicit feedback (which will be livestreamed here):
- Thursday, January 13 from 11:00am-12:30pm Pacific (register here);
- Wednesday, January 19 from 3:00-4:30pm Pacific (register here);
- Friday, January 21 from 8:00-9:30am Pacific (register here).
CCA will be working with our partners at the Public Lands Council to help guide the Administration’s development of the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas.
CNRA Releases Draft Strategy for 30×30 Initiative
On December 15, the California Natural Resources Agency released “Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature,” a draft strategy document for achieving the state’s goal of conserving 30% of the state’s land and coastal waters by 2030. The draft is available for public comment through January 28. For more information, see the December 20 edition of Legislative Bulletin.
Healthy Soils Program Incentives Program Application Period Open
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting applications for the Healthy Soils Program Incentives Program until funds run out or by February 25. This program as described on CDFA’s website “provides financial incentives to California growers and ranchers to implement conservation management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), and improve soil health.”
CDFA is hosting one final workshop for information about the program on January 20 from 9-11am PST. To register for the virtual workshop click here and to learn more about applying click here.