December 12, 2022

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USDA Publishes Final Rule Implementing Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program
On Wednesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule establishing a Cattle Contracts Library Pilot Program.

Under the Pilot Program, packers will be required to provide USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) with “contract information for the purchase of cattle and the number of actual and estimated cattle purchased under active contracts within particular timeframes.”

Packers will be required to submit information regarding “contract method, contract start and end dates, base price source and adjustment, selling basis, premiums and discounts, specifications relating to cattle attributes, delivery and transportation terms and payments, financing, risk-sharing, profit-sharing or other financial arrangements, and volume provisions” (personally-identifiable information will be excluded in order to protect the confidentiality of individual cattle producers). Each month, packers will also be required to report to AMS “the number of actual cattle purchased under active contracts in the prior month and the estimated maximum number of cattle to be purchased under active contracts for slaughter in the current calendar month.”

The final rule – including the confidentiality provision – has been actively shaped by CCA’s national partner, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), with input from several state affiliates including CCA and CCA’s Price Discovery Subcommittee.

“We are hopeful that this pilot program will strike an appropriate balance between offering cattle producers additional insight into the market while also protecting their proprietary business information,” said NCBA Senior Director of Government Affairs Tanner Beymer. “A Cattle Contract Library is just one of many tools NCBA has advocated for to help producers make informed business decisions and capture the most value possible for their cattle.”

The rule is scheduled to take effect on January 6, 2023; the Pilot Program is authorized through September 30, 2023.

Legislators Organize in Sacramento as Election Results Nearly Finalized
On Friday California Secretary of State Shirley Weber will certify the results of the 2022 General Election. In the past few days, final results have emerged in the last two remaining state races. On Thursday Republican Greg Wallis declared victory in Assembly District 47, with Democrat Christy Holstege conceding the race earlier today. Wallis’ final margin of victory was just 85 votes. In Senate District 16, Democratic Senator Melissa Hurtado leads Republican David Shepard by just 20 votes. Hurtado was sworn in Saturday over the objection of Republican leaders in the Capitol, and Shepard’s campaign is mulling whether to request a recount in the race.

Even as some election results remained unsettled, though, the State Legislature returned to business last Monday for an organizational session and for a special session called by Gov. Newsom to impose a financial penalty on oil companies’ “excessive margins” and to “deter price gouging.”Reflecting a compromise struck earlier this year amidst a battle for the Speakership, the Assembly reelected Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) as Speaker until June 30, 2023 and named Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) as “Speaker-designate” to be sworn in on that date. While a handful of bills regarding oil company profits have been introduced, the Legislature will not address those bills until it reconvenes on January 4. Legislators last week also filed more than 125 bills for the 2023-24 Legislative Session – more than a thousand others will likely be filed ahead of the February 17 bill introduction deadline.

One early priority of the Legislature will be considering the 2023-24 State Budget. Under the California Constitution, Gov. Newsom must submit a Proposed Budget to the Legislature no later than January 10. In stark contrast to the surpluses of recent years, the Legislative Analyst’s Office has projected a $24 billion budget deficit, setting up significant challenges for the budget cycle ahead. Nevertheless, in laying out the Assembly’s 2023 Budget Blueprint, Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) struck an optimistic tone, noting that the Legislature has built up significant budget reserves and highlighting “ten years of investments” into key sectors like natural resource protection.

CCA will continue to keep members apprised of developments as the 2023-24 Legislative Session begins to take shape.

CDFW Confirms Additional Depredation Incident by Whaleback Wolf Pack
On Tuesday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released a “livestock loss determination” report for a suspected wolf depredation investigated on November 12. The suspected depredation occurred in what the report notes is the “Whaleback Pack area” of Siskiyou County.

According to the report, ranch personnel discovered a 650-pound calf carcass on the morning of November 12 and CDFW thoroughly investigated later that morning. Tooth markings and associated hemorrhaging on the calf’s legs and the presence of wolf tracks near the carcass led CDFW to confirm that the attack was a wolf depredation.

Because CDFW has failed to collar any wolves in the Whaleback Pack, the report does not explicitly address whether the attack was done by a wolf from the Whaleback Pack, but it is likely that the Whaleback Pack caused the depredation. This is the sixth confirmed wolf depredation of cattle in the Whaleback Pack’s territory since September 3.

SWRCB Lifts All Curtailments in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Russian River Watersheds
On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced that “All curtailments of water rights and claims of right within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta” watershed “are temporarily suspended.” Given that these curtailment suspensions are “temporary,” water rights holders are encouraged to monitor the Delta Watershed Curtailment Status list; the SWRCB is expected to issue its next curtailment update for the watershed tomorrow.

As reported last week, all curtailments have also been lifted within the Russian River Watershed and the SWRCB anticipates that curtailments will remain lifted through at least the end of the year. For more information and to monitor the Curtailment Status List, see the SWRCB’s Russian River Drought Response Webpage.

Curtailments remain in effect within the Scott and Shasta River watersheds. The SWRCB has reiterated that “curtailments remain in effect for all surface water and groundwater diversions in the Scott River watershed unless…approved under a petition” or covered by an exception. Within the Shasta River watershed, “conditional curtailments are in effect to a priority date of November 12, 1925,” meaning that conditionally curtailed diverters (those with water right priority dates between March 1, 1850 and November 12, 1925) may divert in order of priority when the minimum flow requirement (which is 125 cubic feet per second during the month of December) is met at the Yreka gage. For more information, see the Scott River and Shasta River Watersheds Drought Response webpage.

Previously-reported curtailments on the Mill Creek and Deer Creek watersheds also remain in effect. For more information, see the Mill Creek and Deer Creek Drought Response webpage.

CCA will continue to keep members informed regarding the latest curtailment statuses; for more information, contact the CCA office.

New episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast 
In this final episode of season two, get to know San Luis Obispo County cattleman Steve Arnold as he will lead CCA as president over the next two years. Click here to listen.

CCA in the News 

Farm Hands West: California Cattlemen’s selects new president Agri-Pulse Communications The California Cattlemen’s Association has selected Steve Arnold, San Luis Obispo County, as its new president. He succeeds Tony Toso, Mariposa County, whose term expired. Second vice president Trevor Freitas, Tulare County, also stepped off CCA’s officer team as his two-year term expired. Rick Roberti, Plumas County, moved up as first vice president and Shelia Bowen, Kern County, has one year remaining in her term as second vice president. Frank Imhof, Contra Costa County, and Mike McCluskey, Tehama County, were elected as the two incoming second vice presidents.” To continue reading, click here.

Hearst Ranch Raising cattle on historic land Capital Press “Higgins also oversees the original 83,000-acre Hearst Ranch at San Simeon surrounding Hearst Castle. It and the 73,000-acre Jack Ranch are in San Luis Obispo County. He also served four years as executive vice president of the California Cattlemen’s Association and as state director of USDA Rural Development.” To continue reading, click here.

Industry News

Agricultural Groups Urge PRUC and Governor Newsom to Keep Solar Affordable for Farms and Agricultural Businesses The California Solar+Storage Association “A group of 110 California farmers and agricultural businesses signed an open letter to Governor Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), calling on them to support Net Energy Metering Aggregation (NEMA). NEMA helps farms stabilize electricity costs and save money by accessing affordable, reliable, and renewable power when they need it most.” To continue reading, click here.

It’s Officially ‘the End of Peak Fire Season.’ So Why Did California Evade Huge Wildfires in 2022? KQED “As California emerges from its “peak” wildfire season, the state has managed to avoid its recent plague of catastrophic wildfires. So far in 2022, the fewest acres have burned since 2019.” To continue reading, click here.

Storm blowing through California dumps 43 inches of snow in Sierra Nevada Capital Press “Heavy snow fell in the Sierra Nevada as a winter storm packing powerful winds closed mountain highways while downpours at lower elevations triggered flood watches Sunday across large swaths of California into Nevada.” To continue reading, click here.

Steve Arnold

In this final episode of season two, get to know San Luis Obispo County cattleman Steve Arnold as he will lead CCA as president over the next two years. Click here to listen.

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