CCA-Sponsored Legislation Introduced to Extend Ag Vehicle Exemption to CHP’s BIT Program
On Thursday, Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) introduced CCA-sponsored Assembly Bill 2415. If signed into law, AB 2415 would extend by three years the current exemption for agricultural vehicles from the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) Basic Inspection of Terminals (BIT) program.
The BIT program requires certain motor carriers to submit their vehicles to CHP inspection at the place where the vehicles are garaged or maintained; BIT inspections are intended to ensure that motor carriers are complying with Motor Carrier Safety regulations and that vehicle maintenance is adequate to prevent collisions and mechanical breakdowns.
In 2016, CCA-sponsored AB 1960 (Lackey) was signed into law, exempting agricultural vehicles (as defined in Vehicle Code § 34500.6) from the BIT program. There were several compelling reasons for this exemption, including the fact that commonly-used farm and ranch vehicles also serve as producers’ personal vehicles which would typically be exempt from BIT if only used as personal vehicles, as well as the fact that BIT inspections are time-consuming for family farms and ranches, with even minor violations potentially restricting a farmer or rancher from operating a vehicle critical to their business.
Due to concerns in the Senate that “it [was] unclear what the safety impact of this exemption would be,” AB 1960 was amended in the Senate to include a sunset date of January 1, 2023, coupled with a requirement that CHP “report to the Governor and the Legislature [by January 1, 2022] about the impact of excluding an agricultural vehicle” from the BIT program, including “information about collisions involving excluded vehicles and any traffic safety issues associated with excluded vehicles.”
Unfortunately, CHP’s report on the safety of the agricultural exemption has not yet been filed. Nevertheless, the agricultural exemption is set to expire on January 1, 2023, causing undue hardship to farmers and ranchers who would be required to submit to time-consuming BIT inspections – with potentially-significant disruptions to the farm or ranch operations – without any new data or public safety considerations justifying the new requirement.
AB 2415 would extent the agricultural exemption from BIT by three years – until January 1, 2026. This will provide the Legislature and stakeholders like CCA the opportunity to address any concerns CHP may identify regarding the exemption; if no significant concerns exist, this extended sunset provides time for later legislation to make the agricultural vehicle exemption permanent.
CCA thanks Assemblymember Lackey, a former CHP officer who authored the initial ag exemption from BIT in 2016, for his leadership on this topic and his support of the agriculture community. CCA will continue to keep members informed as AB 2415 progresses through the Legislature.
TONIGHT: Virtual Beef Quality Assurance Training
UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, in collaboration with the California Beef Council are excited to be offering an online Beef Quality Assurance Training and Certification tonight, February 22, 2022 from 5:30-7:00 pm. The online training will include presentations on antibiotic stewardship, vaccine administration and handling, record keeping and carcass quality. There will also be a question and answer session with Dr. Gabriele Maier, DVM, Cooperative Extension Specialist in Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis.
This session will be live and will include lots of visuals. It is recommended you log in from a location with reliable internet and be a few minutes early. Attendees will be required to complete a short online quiz post training to receive a Beef Quality Assurance Training Certificate. The link to the quiz will be shared with attendees following the event.
The event is FREE to participate. Registration is required – please click here to register.
For questions or assistance please contact Tracy Schohr, livestock and natural resources advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Butte Counties at email@example.com or 916-716-2643 (text or call).
CDFW Releases Updated Statewide Black Bear Policy
Last week, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) issued a new statewide black bear take policy. The policy is of particular interest to California’s farmers and ranchers as CCA has heard increasing reports of human/bear and livestock/bear conflicts from members in recent years.
Of particular interest to ranchers will be the “depredation bear” portion of the policy, which addresses CDFW’s policy for black bears threatening, damaging or destroying property (including livestock).
In drafting its policy, CDFW appears to has carefully stayed within the bounds of Fish & Game Code section 1841, which enables a property owner to obtain a permit to kill depredating black bears. That said, the policy does suggest that CDFW will encourage property-owners not to exercise that right. While the policy does not suggest that CDFW will deny or refuse take permits for depredating bears, CDFW now will “propose non-lethal…alternative[s]” before issuing a property owner a take permit.
More troublingly, the policy suggests that CDFW will impose various “terms and conditions” on the take permit which could create significant burdens for ranchers or other property owners suffering from problem bears. The policy suggests CDFW may require recipients of take permits to “implement corrective actions” such as “hazing;…enclosing animal pens; installing fencing or electric fencing, motion lights and sprinklers, noise machines, guard animals” or other measures.
As a reminder, under Fish & Game Code section 4181.1, a rancher may immediately dispatch any black bear caught in the act of injuring any livestock, so long as the take is reported to CDFW the following business day.
CCA encourages ranchers to keep staff apprised of any challenges faced in securing a black bear take permit from CDFW. To report any concerns, contact Kirk Wilbur in the CCA office at (916) 444-0845 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In related news, the California Fish & Game Commission on Thursday heard a petition from the Humane Society of the United States proposing to eliminate the hunting season for black bears. The Commission referred the petition to CDFW for review and recommendation. CCA’s opposition letter to the petition is available here.
New Podcast Episode: Sorting through the Animal Ag Alliance’s work to connect, engage and protect
CCA is proud to be a member of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a nonprofit organization with the mission to safeguard the future of animal agriculture and its value to society by bridging the communication gap between farm and food communities. Katie caught up with the Hannah Thompson-Weeman, the Alliance’s Vice President for Strategic Engagement to share what the Alliance does, including their work on protecting agriculture from extreme animal rights activists. Hear Hannah’s advice on what to do if an activist comes into contact with you or your operation and learn more about the Alliance at https://animalagalliance.org. Click here to listen to the episode.
SWRCB Extends Curtailment Suspensions in Scott River
On Friday the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced the extension of the temporary curtailment suspensions in the Scott River watershed through midnight tomorrow contingent upon the 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) flow requirement being sustained at the United States Geological Survey Fort Jones gage. The announcement also states that if flows are less than 200 cfs at the Fort Jones gage, then those whose water rights are included in the List A1 must stop diversions immediately. As a reminder, all water rightsholders in the Scott River that divert more than 1 cfs as a daily average must report their diversions on a weekly basis.
Please go to the Scott and Shasta River Drought webpage for more information related to drought response. For any questions about curtailment notices or how to comply, please contact the Ranchers Technical Assistance Program at (916) 409-6902 or email@example.com.
CDFW Announces Interim Wolf Livestock Compensation Grant Program
Earlier this month, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the rollout of its Interim Wolf Livestock Loss Compensation Grant Program. The program serves to bridge the gap and compensate producers for confirmed livestock losses due to wolf predation from now until a full pilot program is approved. To receive an application for the Interim Program, contact Wolfprogram@wildlife.ca.gov. For more details, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin or visit CDFW’s gray wolf webpage.
Signups Open for Conservation Reserve Program
USDA has announced that the agency has begun accepting signups for its Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). CRP provides landowners financial incentives to “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.” Signups for CRP will run through March 11. Signups for CRP Grasslands, meanwhile, will run from April 4 through May 13. To sign up for CRP or other USDA assistance programs, contact your county Farm Service Agency. You can find contact information for your county FSA office here.
Apply for the Healthy Soils Program Incentives Program By Friday
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 “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.” To learn more about applying click here.