Nazarian Introduces Bill to Prohibit Animal Feeding Operations and Slaughterhouses
Last Wednesday, supporters of extreme animal rights groups such as Direct Action Everywhere (“DxE”) gathered on the steps of the State Capitol to support a moratorium on animal feeding operations and slaughterhouses within the state. The demonstration was picked up by The Sacramento Bee and other Capitol-watchers, and raised concern among many in the animal agriculture community, including CCA members.
The activists were gathered in support of Assembly Bill 2764 by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys). AB 2764 would prohibit, effective January 1, 2023, the creation or expansion within California of animal feeding operation and slaughterhouses with annual revenues over $100,000. Nazarian’s bill proposes a fine of $10,000 per day for those who construct or expand feeding and processing facilities after that date.
Because the $100,000 annual revenue limit would render creation of new feeding operations or slaughterhouses economically infeasible, AB 2764 would effectively amount to an outright prohibition on any new facilities. In support of AB 2764, Assemblyman Nazarian and the bill’s sponsors at DxE advance a great deal of misinformation regarding purported damages these facilities cause in terms of animal health, environmental quality and employee health – failing to acknowledge California producers’ leadership in each of these areas and California’s already-extensive regulation of these facilities.
Importantly, AB 2764 runs contrary to both the Biden-Harris Administration and the Newsom Administration’s efforts to expand meat processing capacity to address the supply-chain and market challenges exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill is also contrary to the efforts of Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) last year to expand processing capacity; AB 2764 is likely to be initially referred to the Rivas’ committee. Given the countervailing priorities of state and federal leadership in Nazarian’s own party, AB 2764 is likely to garner strong bipartisan opposition.
Nevertheless, CCA is working with a broad coalition of stakeholders in California’s animal agriculture community to strongly oppose AB 2764 and to correct the record regarding the value of feedyards and slaughterhouses to California and the state’s consumers.
AB 2764 has not yet been referred to any policy committee and is not yet even eligible to be heard. As this story develops, though, CCA will continue to keep you apprised of our efforts to kill this legislation early in the 2022 legislative calendar.
Biden Expected to Sign $1.5 Trillion Funding Bill; Includes Cattle Contract Library Pilot Program
On Thursday night, the Senate approved by a vote of 68-31 a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill which would fund the federal government through the end of the 2022 Fiscal Year, which closes September 30. The funding bill passed the House of Representatives early last week and now awaits President Biden’s signature.
The omnibus spending bill contains several provisions of interest to the nation’s cattle ranchers, in particular the authorization of a Cattle Contract Library pilot program. Specifically, the bill authorizes $1 million to fund the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) creation of a Cattle Contract Library pilot program that is “similar to…the swine contract library the U.S. Department of Agriculture currently maintains.” AMS’s Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division will oversee the effort.
CCA national partner the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) hailed the Cattle Contract Library pilot program, writing in a press release that the “pilot program marks a win for the U.S. cattle industry as it equips producers with the market data they need to make informed business decisions and work to capture more value for producing the highest quality beef in the world.” NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lance added that “This pilot program will allow USDA to work on the model for a contract library that works for everyone in the supply chain while Congress and industry continue to work out the details of a permanent library.”
Other favorable policy for the cattle ranching community within the omnibus spending bill includes:
- Extension of Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) through September 30, 2022. LMR requires meat packers to report the prices they pay for cattle and other livestock and the prices they receive for the meat from such animals, which is published by USDA.
- Extension of Electronic Logging Device (ELD) exemption for livestock haulers. The omnibus bill continues a long-standing policy prohibiting the Department of Transportation from using funds to implement ELD regulations for livestock haulers.
- Prohibition on Environmental Protection Agency regulation of livestock emissions: Two provisions of the omnibus funding bill prevent EPA regulating emissions from livestock’s biological processes and from collecting emissions reports from farms and ranches.
- Prohibition on the use of federal funds to list the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.
On Friday, President Biden signed a continuing resolution which funds the government through tomorrow, averting a government shutdown. President Biden is expected to sign the omnibus spending bill which includes the above provisions early this week.
SWRCB Issues Weekly Curtailment Updates
The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) on Friday issued updates concerning certain water rights’ curtailment statuses in the Russian River and Scott River watersheds.
The SWRCB has announced that temporary suspensions of curtailments in the Russian River watershed will be extended through at least April 1, with the extension to be reassessed in late March. For more information on drought and curtailment statuses in the Russian River watershed, visit the Russian River Drought Response webpage.
The SWRCB has also renewed its temporary suspension of all curtailments in the Scott River watershed through this Friday, March 18, at midnight. The temporary suspension shall remain in place only so long as the 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) flow requirement is sustained at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Fort Jones gage. If flows dip below 200 cfs, diversions under the water rights included in the SWRCB’s “List A1” must cease immediately. You can find more information on drought in the Scott River watersheds on the Scott River and Shasta River 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.
SLO County Modified Point of Origin Referendum to be Held April 12
The San Luis Obispo County Cattleman’s Association (SLOCCA) will be holding a vote to repeal the Modified Point of Origin (MPO) regulations currently in place in the San Luis Obispo County brand inspection area. Only cattle producers (beef and dairy) that are property taxpayers, lessees or residents of the MPO area are permitted to vote. Voting will take place on April 12 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Frontier Building at the Paso Robles Event Center (Mid-State Fairgrounds). For additional details, see last week’s Legislative Bulletin.
New Stories from California Cattle Country Episode on Humboldt County
Our second episode from Humboldt County at Foggy Bottoms Farm. We spoke with the “retired” grandpa Larry to learn a little history about the farm. After Larry, we spoke with his grandson, and current owner, Cody about farm operations, the perpetual hustle known as other farm income, the farm’s vibrant social media presence and what it’s like to be two fabulously gay Jewish farmers. To listen to the episode and see photos from the visit click here.
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.