December 11, 2023

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Legislative Analyst’s Office Forecasts $68 Billion Budget Deficit
Last week, the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office projected that California faces a $68 billion budget deficit heading into the Fiscal Year 2024-25 Budget cycle, more than twice the deficit lawmakers confronted in addressing the current 2023-24 Budget.

The revelation puts lawmakers and advocacy organizations in a tight position when it comes to negotiating Budget priorities between now and June 30 (Governor Newsom will release his initial proposed budget no later than January 10). It’s also a dire sign for potential 2024 policy bills that could have state fiscal impacts. In addition to the massive bill cullings that occurred in the Assembly and Senate appropriations committees last year, a Politico analysisfound that the state’s fiscal circumstances formed the justification for more than 40% of Newsom’s 156 vetoes in 2023.

The fiscal shortfall will be an early test for new legislative leadership. 2024 will be the first full year of Speaker Rober Rivas’ (D-Hollister) tenure helming the Assembly, and Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) is set to be sworn in as the new President pro tempore of the Senate on February 5. Rivas’ new picks to lead the Assembly Budget Committee and its various subcommittees will be confronted by the Budget shortfall when they take their chairs two weeks after the initial proposed budget is released (for more information, see last week’s Legislative Bulletin).

CCA will continue to push for our Budget priorities – including wolf compensation, prescribed grazing infrastructure and wildfire resilience – despite the latest deficit projections. It should be noted that the state’s deficit projections could improve in the months to come.

Former Speaker McCarthy Announces Congressional Retirement
Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) announced in the Wall Street Journal last week that he will retire from Congress at the end of this year. McCarthy’s ouster from the Speakership earlier this year was a blow to California Republicans in swing districts who had benefitted from his fundraising might, as well as to agricultural interests in the state which had long been elevated on the national stage by the powerful lawmaker.

McCarthy’s departure is likely to necessitate a special election to serve out the remainder of his term ahead of the November 2024 General Election, though it is not yet clear whether that special election can be consolidated with the March 5 Primary Election or whether it will necessitate standalone balloting.

McCarthy’s deep-red district is all but certain to elect another Republican to fill his seat. Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), who formerly served as McCarthy’s district director, announced his bid for the seat this morning. Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) announced yesterday that she “will not seek election to Congress in 2024” but will instead continue to serve out her current term in the State Senate.

USDA FSA Now Accepting Online Farm Loan Applications
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced last week that the agency has developed an online application process for direct farm loan customers. According to FSA, the new online format provides an “interactive, guided application that is paperless and provides helpful features including an electronic signature option, the ability to attach supporting documents such as tax returns, complete a balance sheet and build a farm operating plan.”

Currently, the online application is limited to those operating their farm or ranch as an individual (though FSA notes that the service will be rolled out to married couples filing jointly and to other legal entities throughout 2024). To use the online application, users must create a USDA customer account and a Login.gov account. Applicants can track the progress of their loan applications via a personalized dashboard by completing FSA’s Loan Assistance Tool here.

For ranchers still utilizing paper farm loan applications, FSA has announced that the application has been simplified to 13 pages from its prior 29-page format.

For more information, see USDA’s press release, here, or contact your local USDA service center.

FSA Waives Notice of Loss Requirements for Two Livestock Disaster Assistance Programs
The USDA Farm Service Agency announced late last month that it has waived deadlines to file notices of loss for 2023 under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP) program and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Producers have until January 30, 2024 to file a claim under ELAP, and until February 29, 2024 to file a claim under LIP. In addition to extending the deadlines to file notices of loss for 2023, FSA has announced that its county committees will reevaluate all LIP and ELAP applications which have thus far been denied on the grounds of late filing this year. For more information, see FSA’s announcement, here, or last week’s edition of Legislative Bulletin.

Upcoming Industry Events

Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale 
Jan. 23 – 27, Tehama County Fairgrounds
Connect with the Rancher Technical Assistance Program‘s team in the tradeshow at the the 2024 Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale. Jack Rice and Noah Lopez of Western Resource Strategies, LLC work to provide the best technical assistance possible to cattle producers through RTAP. Stop by the booth to meet them, get help face-to-face on an issue and learn more about the program. More details to come on what to expect from RTAP in the tradeshow.

2024 NCBA Annual Convention 
Jan. 31, 2024 – Feb. 2, Orlando, FL
Registration for the 2024 CattleCon is now open. Here attendees will have the opportunity to network, learn and advocate for the beef industry. To learn more, click here. To register, click here.

CCA in the News

CCA wolf subcommittee discusses compensation program Western Livestock Journal “Compensation for ranchers in the state’s wolf compensation program and cattle DNA in wolf scat were some topics presented by University of California (UC), Davis economists at the recent California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) annual convention in late November.” To continue reading, click here.

Surprised by lifetime achievement award | Jean Barton Red Bluff Daily News
“Before the CowBelle of Year Luncheon Awards were presented, CCA 1st Vice President Rick Roberti, Loyalton, and Mike McCluskey, 2nd VP, were introduced by CCW President Jerri Roen to make a presentation for the California Cattlemen’s Association. ‘The Lifetime Achievement Award, for a lifetime of commitment and service to the California Cattle Industry, 2023.’ I was speechless when my name was announced because I expected a different woman to be recognized.” To continue reading, click here.

Industry News

Farmers and ranchers are essential when it comes wildfire resilience. Unfortunately, California doesn’t think so San Francisco Chronicle “You’d think California would be using every tool in its toolbox to build resilience to wildfire. While progress has been made, we’ve been overlooking key wildfire allies: farmers and ranchers.” To continue reading, click here.

California’s final report on disputed Delta tunnel project shows fish and farms still at risk The Sacramento Bee “The environmental impact report said the tunnel’s construction and operations would significantly impact the Delta’s endangered and threatened fish species, tracts of important regional farmland and tribal cultural resources that include human remains.” To continue reading, click here.

A new episode of Sorting Pen: The California Cattleman Podcast is out now. CattleFax Analyst Patrick Linnell recently provided a cattle and beef market outlook in Thursday morning’s general session at the 107th CCA and CCW Convention. Following the session, Patrick sat down with Katie to talk about some of the highlights and key points for California cattle producers, including what CattleFax predicts cattle prices will look like in 2024. To listen to the episode click here.

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