Anti-CAFO Legislation Fails to Advance; Protests Expected
As previously reported in Legislative Bulletin, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys) this year introduced Assembly Bill 2764, which would have prohibited the creation or expansion of “commercial animal feeding operations” (CAFOs) with annual revenues over $100,000. The legislation was sponsored by radical animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), a group known for headline-grabbing stunts.
CCA and a broad coalition of agricultural stakeholders swiftly condemned the legislation, highlighting the sustainability of California’s feed yards and their vital role in the beef supply chain.
Before the legislation could be heard in the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Assemblyman Nazarian informed the bill’s sponsor that AB 2764 would be amended in light of overwhelming opposition and would instead merely authorize a study on CAFOs. Incensed by what it viewed as a betrayal, DxE staged protests at the Capitol on April 6, with one supporter gluing her hand to a witness table and forcing the Assembly Agriculture Committee to briefly recess.
This week is the deadline by which all fiscal bills – including AB 2764 – must pass out of relevant policy committees or be dead for the year. The Assembly Agriculture Committee’s final hearing before the deadline is this Wednesday and AB 2764 is not on the agenda (either in its original or an amended “study bill” form), meaning the bill is likely dead for the year.
According to DxE, the group will again stage protests this Wednesday during the Assembly Agriculture Committee meeting to protest what the group calls “factory farming.” For more on AB 2764, see the May edition of California Cattleman.
Council on Environmental Quality Returns NEPA to Pre-2020 Standards
On Wednesday, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a final rule amending its regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The amendments generally restore regulations that were in effect prior to NEPA reforms finalized by former President Trump’s CEQ in July of 2020.
Among other reforms, the 2020 NEPA revisions – which CCA strongly supported – simplified environmental analyses by limiting the scope of potential impacts an agency must consider in reviewing a proposed project. Prior to 2020, federal agencies were required to consider “direct, indirect, and cumulative effects” of a proposed action, resulting in all-encompassing, expansive analyses. Under the Trump Administration revision, agencies were only required to consider those effects of a proposed action which are “reasonably foreseeable and have a reasonably close causal relationship to the proposed action,” significantly reducing agencies’ workload and reducing the potential for legal challenges.
The regulations finalized by President Biden’s CEQ last Wednesday reinstate consideration of the “direct, indirect, and cumulative” impacts of a proposed action. The regulation also requires consideration of climate change and impacts upon disadvantaged communities.
CCA’s national partners the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council swiftly criticized the rule. “This rule returns environmental analysis to a failed model that industry and government have long agreed is woefully inadequate and inefficient,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “This failed model will stall important environmental projects, delay critical infrastructure improvements, and impede progress made as part of ongoing NEPA processes.”
The final rule will take effect on May 20. The final rule is merely “Phase 1” of CEQ’s regulatory revisions; a “Phase 2” rulemaking is ongoing, and CCA will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
CCA Joins Supreme Court Brief on Waters of the U.S.
Last week, CCA joined the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in filing a “friend of the court” brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case Sackett v. EPA, which challenges the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
In the brief, NCBA, CCA and several other state and federal industry advocates and allies urge the Supreme Court to adopt a clear, narrow definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) that provides regulatory certainty for the nation’s cattle producers.
“Since the passage of the CWA, cattle producers have managed their operations through 13 iterations of ‘waters of the U.S.’ definitions in a mere 50 years,” the brief explains. “On average, this means that farmers, ranchers, and other landowners experience a change in how features on their property are regulated once every 3.8 years – an untenable scheme that provides no foundation for meaningful business planning.”
The case could have important implications regarding regulation of WOTUS. The Biden Administration is currently in the process of rescinding and replacing the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which itself narrowed the scope of an Obama-era WOTUS definition. CCA will continue to keep you informed on the EPA’s WOTUS rulemaking and on the Court’s decision in Sackett.
SWRCB Extends Curtailment Suspensions in Scott River & Shasta River Watersheds
On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) renewed its temporary suspension of all curtailments in the Scott River watershed through midnight this Friday, April 29. The temporary suspension will remain in place only so long as minimum flow requirements are sustained at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Fort Jones gage (the minimum flow requirement throughout April is 150 cubic feet per second). If flows dip below the minimum flow requirements, diversions under the water rights included in the SWRCB’s “List A1” must cease immediately.
The SWRCB also announced this morning that temporary curtailment suspensions on the Russian River Watershed will continue through May 31.
You can find more information on drought in the Scott River watershed on the Scott River and Shasta River Drought webpage and more information on drought conditions in the Russian River watershed at the Russian River Drought Response webpage. For any questions about curtailment notices or how to comply, please contact the Rancher Technical Assistance Program at (916) 409-6902 or email@example.com.
Cattle Health Webinar Recordings Available
Video recordings from the University of California Cooperative Extension and University of California Davis Veterinary Medicine’s webinar series in March are now available. This series was cohosted by University of California Cooperative Extension advisors Tracy Schohr, Grace Woodmansee, Rebecca Ozeran and specialist Dr. Gabriele Maier.
The video recordings and additional resources from the webinar
series can be found at ucanr.edu/sites/Rangelands/CattleHealth. The video topics include:
- Whole Herd Health Plans and Vaccination Schedules
- Herd Bull Health, Diseases and Injuries
- Pinkeye in Cattle
- Toxic Plants and Livestock
- Why Did it Die? California Animal Health Food Safety Laboratory
For questions or suggestions on future topics please contact Tracy Schohr, livestock and natural resources advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Butte Counties at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-716-2643.
New Episode of Stories from California Cattle Country
On our recent visit to Rib Arrow Dairy in Tulare, we met up with father and son hoof trimmers Marty and Art DeHaan. The DeHaans visit Rib Arrow Dairy weekly and attend to about 50 cows per visit providing trims and occasional treatments for other maladies. Hear about their craft and it’s evolution in this latest episode. To see photos of the dairy visit and more, click here. Stories from California Cattle Country is produced by the California Cattlemen’s Foundation with support from the California Cattle Council. If you want a glimpse into our travels, follow the podcast’s Instagram account @calcattlecountry.
CCA and Grazing Permittees Win Ninth Circuit Appeal in Water Quality Lawsuit
Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a significant victory for public lands grazing, finding in favor of CCA and several Stanislaus National Forest grazing permittees in an appeal brought by the Central Sierra Environmental Resources Center (CSERC). To learn more, read the April 11 edition of Legislative Bulletin.
Rep. Panetta Introduces A-PLUS Act to Improve Access to Processing Facilities
Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-CA20) has introduction of the bipartisan Amplifying Processing of Livestock in the United States (A-PLUS) Act, which seeks to increase meat processing capacity by allowing livestock auction markets to own, invest in and manage small meat packing facilities. For more information, including CCA’s response to the bill, read the April 11 edition of Legislative Bulletin.