June 19, 2023

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Fish & Game Commission Advances Greater Sage Grouse to CESA Candidacy
Last Wednesday, the Fish & Game Commission voted to accept a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity seeking to list Greater Sage Grouse as a threatened or endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Acceptance of the petition means that Greater Sage Grouse is now a “candidate species” which is fully protected under the provisions of CESA throughout its period of candidacy.

Over the next twelve months, the Department of Fish and Wildlife will complete a status evaluation of the species. After the evaluation is complete, the Commission will determine whether to formally list the species under CESA.

CCA submitted written comments in opposition to candidacy and opposed listing at Wednesday’s hearing. CCA will continue to oppose listing as the Department conducts its evaluation and will engage the Department and Commission regarding potential regulatory mechanisms that can protect ranchers whose voluntary conservation efforts are largely responsible for the species’ conservation in recent years.

In addition to California’s action, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently reopened a 2013 Proposed Rule to list the Bi-state distinct population of sage grouse under the federal ESA. Comments on the federal proposal are due next Monday. CCA is already on the administrative record in opposition to listing but will likely file supplemental comments ahead of Monday’s deadline. For more information regarding the federal proposal, see the May 1 edition of Legislative Bulletin.

Legislature Passes Budget Bill, but Negotiations Continue
The California Legislature on Thursday met its Constitutional deadline to finalize a 2023-24 State Budget, but all parties involved in budget negotiations admit that the bill sent to Governor Gavin Newsom on June 15 will not be the final word on the State’s spending plan.

Legislators will continue negotiating with the Governor to hammer out a final budget deal agreeable to the Assembly, Senate and Administration. The aim will be to have a budget bill signed into law no later than June 15, the day before the State’s new fiscal year begins.

For more information on the 2023-24 Budget passed Thursday by the Legislature, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin. CCA will provide further information regarding the Budget when the final spending bill has been signed into law.

BLM Extends Time to Comment on “Conservation and Landscape Health” Rule
The Bureau of Land Management has announced that it will extend by 15 days the comment period for the agency’s Proposed Rule regarding “Conservation and Landscape Health.” Comments had initially been due tomorrow. The announcement, which will be formally published in tomorrow’s edition of the Federal Register, sets a new comment deadline of July 5 for feedback on the Proposed Rule.

The Proposed Rule was initiated without any prior engagement with organizations representing BLM grazing permittees. Of greatest concern, the Proposed Rule would establish conservation as a “use” of BLM-managed lands under the agency’s multiple-use mandate, allowing entities to lease BLM ground for “restoration or land enhancement” or for mitigation. The proposal would also ramp up identification and designation of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern in response to a Biden Administration directive that federal agencies incorporate wildlife habitat connectivity into their planning activities. CCA is concerned that the Proposed Rule could have the impact of restricting grazing use of BLM lands.

Earlier this month, CCA joined our national partner the Public Lands Council and 57 other organizations calling on BLM to “withdraw the proposed rule and begin again,” engaging with grazing stakeholders prior to issuing a proposed rule. Alternatively, we asked that BLM accept feedback for a full 180 days – 90 days longer than the recently-announced extension.

CCA and our partners will provide substantive feedback to BLM prior to the new July 5 deadline. For more information, see the April 3 edition of Legislative Bulletin.

California Department of Fish & Wildlife Issues New Beaver Depredation Policy
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) earlier this month released a new Beaver Depredation Policy. Where a property-owner requests a take permit for problem beavers, the policy highlights that “take” under California law “means to hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill,” signaling the Department’s intention to promote non-lethal means of take. The policy also suggests that CDFW will condition take authorization on property-owners implementing non-lethal “corrective actions” to deter further beaver damage. For additional details on the policy, see last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin or CDFW’s beaver webpage.

CDFW Implements Pay for Presence Wolf Compensation Program
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced the availability of its “Pay for Presence” wolf compensation program. Under the Pay for Presence program, producers may be eligible for compensation if they operate within a known wolf pack territory, and compensation is available retroactive to September 23, 2021. CDFW’s 2021-22 map of known wolf pack summer and winter ranges is available here, and the agency’s methodology for determining these geographic ranges can be found here. While the Department’s program does not reflect all CCA’s priorities and is by no means a perfect program, the availability of Pay for Presence compensation marks significant progress in compensating livestock producers who must bear the burden of ill-conceived state regulations fully protecting gray wolves. For more information, see the June 5 edition of Legislative Bulletin.

New Episode of Stories from California Cattle Country 
Stories from California Cattle Country, “Learning about Red Hided Angus and Cattle Brands with Rita McPhee of McPhee Red Angus Ranch” is out now. To listen to the episode click hereStories 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.

California Agriculture Vision 
The California Department of Food and Agriculture and California State Board of Food and Agriculture have announced their plan for Ag Vision for the Next Decade. Created using an inclusive process, the plan’s goal is to provide opportunity for California farmers, ranchers and communities and climate action.

The plan developed aims to focus on five key priority areas including:

  • Fostering climate-smart, resilient, and regernative food systems.
  • Building healthy, local communities.
  • Driving next-generation talent and tools.
  • Enhancing understanding of agriculture.
  • Collaborating on smarter regulations.

To learn more about Ag Vision, click here. To view a video clip on Ag Vision, click here.

UC to Unearth 7 Years of Wildfire Impacts. Help Fight for Better Ag Resources and Policies 
From the UCCE UC Davis
Has your ranch in California been impacted by wildfires? We hope you can take less than 20 minutes to share the impacts you experienced and response strategies you implemented. The results of this survey will elevate rancher perspectives to the forefront of local and regional wildfire preparedness & response efforts. All participants who finish the survey by June will receive a $20 thank-you gift and will be entered into a $200 drawing. This initiative is led by the University of California at Davis in collaboration with Cooperative Extension. Go to https://bit.ly/WildfiresAgStudyCCA to get started.

Upcoming CCA Events

Midyear Meeting
June 21-22, Paso Robles, CA, Paso Robles Inn
Registrations for Midyear Meeting will now occur onsite and prices will be increased. Further details and the tentative schedule can be found here

CCA Cattle-PAC Auction + Dinner
Sept. 16, Paso Robles, CA

Upcoming Industry Events

California-United Water 2023 Silicon Valley Tour 
June 21-23, 2023, Santa Clara, CA
The Mountain Counties Water Resources Association (MCWRA), Urban Water Institute, Inc., Mesa Water, and Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency (BAWSCA) are hosting a tour in Santa Clara, CA. Tour stops include Google, Levi’s Stadium and much more. For more information and to register, click here.

2023 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting
July 24-26, 2023, Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, CA
Registration for the 2023 Cattle Industry Supper Business Meeting is now open. To register, click here. To view the agenda, click here.

Industry News

California begins groundbreaking effort to define regenerative agriculture New Hope Network “The state of California is in the beginning stages of a months-long campaign to develop a definition for the term regenerative agriculture, an effort that could yield a common way of understanding it, at least among California officials, by the end of the year.” To continue reading, click here.

Huffman leads letter to EPA to allow prescribed burns amid air quality changes Times-Standard “The Environmental Protection Agency is heightening air quality standards, and some representatives are asking for prescribed burns to be exempted from new rules. North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Senator Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles) spearheaded a letter asking the EPA to allow prescribed burns.” To continue reading, click here.

Point Reyes tule elk fence may come down, feds say Marin Independent Journal “Signaling a potential shift in the management of wild tule elk in the Point Reyes National Seashore, the National Park Service is considering removing a fence that has separated its largest elk herd from private cattle ranches that lease parkland for more than four decades.” To continue reading, click here.

NCBA Praises House Appropriations Committee for Advancing Agricultural Bill National Cattlemen’s Beef Association “Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) thanked members of the House Appropriations Committee for advancing the Fiscal Year 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill, which will provide funding for essential programs that support cattle producers while defending against overreaching regulations.” To continue reading, click here.

Tracey Erickson

A New episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast is out now. Certified Angus Beef’s Senior Executive Vice President of Marketing Tracey Erickson talks a little about the Certified Angus Beef Program and highlights from her presentation at CCA’s 2023 Feeder Meeting. To listen to the episode click here

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