July 11, 2022

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Federal Court Vacates Trio of Trump-Era ESA Regulations
Last Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order vacating three Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations which had been finalized in 2019 under the Trump Administration. The Trump-era regulations were strongly supported by CCA and our national partners at the Public Lands Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

While environmental litigants had only sought to have the rules remanded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for reconsideration and revision, the court took the additional step of vacating the 2019 rules, noting that the USFWS had already announced its intention to reexamine and revise the 2019 ESA regulations (see “Biden Administration Moves to Roll Back Trump-Era ESA Reforms” in the June 7, 2021 edition of Legislative Bulletin).

The ruling reverts ESA regulations back to their pre-2019 rules. Specifically, the court order has the following immediate impacts:

  • Reimposes the “blanket 4(d)” rule, which automatically extends protections afforded to endangered species under the ESA to species merely listed as “threatened.”
  • Permits the USFWS not to consider the likely economic impacts its listing decisions are likely to have upon small businesses and rural communities.
  • Removes regulations intended to streamline the interagency consultation process required under the ESA for federal agency actions with the potential to impact listed species.

The court’s decision comes just weeks after the USFWS finalized a rule rescinding the Trump-era regulatory definition of “habitat,” which had required land to “currently or periodically” contain “the resources and conditions necessary to support one or more life processes of a species” in order to be designated as critical habitat for a threatened or endangered species (for more information, see the June 27 edition of Legislative Bulletin). The Biden Administration is also considering a separate rulemaking under Section 10(j) of the ESA which would allow the agency to reintroduce “experimental populations” of threatened and endangered species outside of their historical range.

CCA continues to advocate for efficient, workable ESA regulations, and will continue to push the Biden Administration to enact federal policy that balances species preservation with other land uses such as livestock grazing.

Curtailments Updates From SWRCB 
Since last week’s Legislative Bulletin, there have been curtailment updates involving the Scott River Watershed and Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta Watershed. Information regarding lifted curtailments, among other details, can be found below.

Scott River Watershed
On Friday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) updated the status of certain curtailments within the Scott River watershed. First priority water rights holders from the French Creek Adjudication, the Shackleford Adjudication and Schedule B of the Scott River Adjudication are allowed to divert up to 30% of their first priority water rights after providing required notice to the SWRCB as long as the minimum flow threshold of 50 cubic feet per second is maintained at the US Geological Survey’s Fort Jones gauge

Click here to access the Scott River and Shasta River Watersheds Drought Responsewebsite for additional updates. Direct any questions to ScottShastaDrought@waterboards.ca.gov.
Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta Watershed
Revision and readoption of Emergency Regulations will be considered at the upcoming July 20 SWRCB hearing. Additional information is available here.
As of Thursday, several curtailments have been imposed within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed. These curtailments include appropriative water rights for the Sacramento River watershed with a priority date of 1910 or later.
Water rights on several San Joaquin River tributaries have also been curtailed, including all appropriative water rights and riparian water rights in the Calaveras River and Chowchilla River subwatersheds and all appropriative water rights in the Merced River subwatershed with a priority date of 1859 or later. 

The SWRCB has also curtailed appropriate water rights on the San Joaquin River watershed outside the Legal Delta with a priority date of 1888 or later and appropriative water rights within the Legal Delta with a priority date of 1910 or later. 

The above curtailments are expected to continue through summer and the beginning of fall, depending on precipitation.

For questions about curtailment and suspension notices or how to comply, please contact the Rancher Technical Assistance Program at (916) 409-6902 or rtap@wrstrat.com.

2022 CCA Scholarship Applications Now Available 
Applications for the 2022 CCA Scholarships are being accepted now through October 1, 2022, CCA awarded over $63,000 in scholarships to students studying agriculture, although scholarship amounts and quantities vary year to year.
Current CCA members (producer, feeder or YCC) that are currently enrolled at a university or college are eligible to apply. Past recipients of her CCA scholarship program may also apply again this year. For a complete list of awards an to download the application visit calcattlemen.org/scholarships. Contact Maureen in the CCA office at maureen@calcattlemen.org with any questions.

Governor Newsom Signs 2022-23 Budget into Law
On June 30 – one day before the 2022-23 Fiscal Year kicked off on July 1 – Governor Newsom signed into law the Budget Act of 2022 and several budget trailer bills which implement the budget. A centerpiece of the $308 billion budget is a $17 billion inflation relief package that includes a tax refund for Californians whose income is below $250,000 and a suspension of the sales tax on diesel fuel, among other provisions. While the Budget Act allocates $2.7 billion over two years for wildfire resilience and $2.8 billion aimed at drought resilience, the Legislature will not fully hammer out funding for drought, wildfire and energy until session resumes in August. For additional details on the Budget Act, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.

Upcoming Industry Events

Working Rangelands Wednesdays Webinars
June 29 – Sept. 7, Virtually
Join UC Cooperative Extension advisors, specialists, researchers and ranchers for a biweekly summer webinar series highlighting applied, land manager-oriented solutions for rangeland drought challenges. Webinars will air biweekly from 6pm to 6:45pm. Click here to register and receive a link to the following scheduled webinars.

July 13: Planning for drought
July 27: Early weaning
August 10: Culling vs. Feeding
August 24: Irrigating with limited water
September 7:  Fall/Winter Forecast and Remote Sensing

2022 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting 
July 25-27, Nugget Casino Resort, Reno, Nevada
Come join the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board, American National CattleWomen, Inc. and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation for the 2022 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting in Reno, Nevada. The meetings will cover a range of topics including current issues, programs, initiatives, projects and much more. To register for the event click here. Click here to see current schedule.

Public Lands Council Annual Meeting 
August 24-26, Cody, Wyoming or virtually
Come join the Public Lands Council for their Annual Meeting in Cody, Wyoming. A virtual option is available for those who can’t attend in person. The meeting will cover an array of topics including current issues, panel discussions and much more. To register for the event, click here. Click here to see the agenda.

CCA in the News

In the US West, Researchers Consider a Four-Legged Tool to Fight Two Foes: Wildfire and Cheatgrass Inside Climate News  “Setting cattle and other types of livestock on cheatgrass-heavy land is a win-win, said Mark Lacey, a rancher who owns Lacey Livestock and grazes cattle in parts of California that overlap with the Great Basin. Ranchers need grazing land, and cows chewing down grass provides a cheap tool for state and local governments strapped for firefighting resources. The practice also supports ranchers, who help drive the economy, produce food and create jobs in many rural places, he said.” To continue reading, click here.

Industry News

The Southwest is bone dry. Now, a key water source is at risk. Politico “SACRAMENTO — California and six other Western states have less than 60 days to pull off a seemingly impossible feat: Cut a multi-way deal to dramatically reduce their consumption of water from the dangerously low Colorado River. If they don’t, the federal government will do it for them.” To continue reading, click here.

Latest round of water cuts delivers hard hit to farms – from the Los Angeles Times California Department of Food and Agriculture “California regulators have begun curtailing the water rights of many farms and irrigation districts along the Sacramento River, forcing growers to stop diverting water from the river and its tributaries. The order, which took effect Thursday (July 7), puts a hold on about 5,800 water rights across the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers’ watersheds, reflecting the severity of California’s extreme drought.” To continue reading, click here.

Big 4 Beef Processors Accused of Price-Fixing in New Lawsuit NBC Los Angeles “The nation’s largest food distributor has joined the other businesses accusing the four largest meat processors of working together to inflate beef prices.Sysco recently filed a federal lawsuit in Texas accusing Tyson Foods, JBS, Cargill and National Beef of price fixing. The lawsuit said those companies have conspired to suppress the number of cattle being slaughtered at least since 2015 to help drive up the price of beef. The allegations are similar to ones in lawsuits filed by grocery stores, ranchers, restaurants and other wholesalers that have been pending in Minnesota federal court since 2020.” To continue reading, click here.
Conservation, working lands and loss of farmland discussed during State Board of Food and Agriculture tour California Department of Food and Agriculture “The Board also visited Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to meet with Pat Kirby, Chair of the California Cattlemen’s Foundation Board. Speakers answered questions about their experiences confronting urban conversion and conservation of farmland as well as the hurdles, challenges, and opportunities for farmers and ranchers.” To continue reading, click here.

season 2 episode 7

CCA Fire Subcommittee Chair Anthony Stornetta cohosts this episode with Katie, as Len Nielson, CAL FIRE Staff Chief for Prescribed Fire and Environmental Protection joins them for an update. Click here to listen.

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