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in the KNOW

June 11, 2015

Second Annual Dairyfest Held at State Capitol Recognizing June as Dairy Month

(Pictured from left to right) Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Assemblyman Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) at Dairyfest.

(Pictured from left to right) Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Assemblyman Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) at Dairyfest.

Over 350 guests, including legislators and staff, joined Ag Council’s dairy members for the second annual Dairyfest event on June 9.  Dairyfest is an ice cream social at the State Capitol in Sacramento recognizing June as Dairy Month and celebrating California’s dairy producers. The event is sponsored by Ag Council’s three dairy members California Dairies Inc., Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’Lakes.

Thank you to the legislators who attended Dairyfest, including: Assemblyman Alejo, Assemblywoman Brown, Assemblyman Dahle, Assemblyman Chu, Assemblyman Cooper, Assemblyman Perea, Senator Anderson, Senator Cannella, Senator Wieckowski, and Senator Nguyen. Ag Council extends a special thank you to our legislative sponsors, Assemblyman Perea and Assemblyman Cannella, for their support.

Assemblymember Henry Perea (D-Fresno) (pictured 3rd from left) at Dairyfest with (from left to right) alternate Dairy Princess Emma Borba, Ag Council President Emily Rooney, and Dairy Princess Spencer Borba. Dairy Princesses Emma and Spencer Borba from Escalon helped greet guests at Ag Council's second annual Dairyfest.

Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) (pictured 3rd from left) at Dairyfest with (from left to right) alternate Dairy Princess Emma Borba, Ag Council President Emily Rooney, and Dairy Princess Spencer Borba. Dairy Princesses Emma and Spencer Borba from Escalon helped greet guests at Ag Council’s second annual Dairyfest.

Legislators had an opportunity to speak with our dairy members directly, and the event was a great opportunity to raise the profile of Ag Council, as well as highlight the importance of the dairy industry in California. Dairyfest also gave members a chance to talk about the positive economic impact of dairy in California.

Ag Council appreciates the volunteer help provided by a group of high school students in the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program from Lodi High School who spent the afternoon volunteering at Dairyfest by helping serve ice cream. Two dairy princesses from Escalon were also in attendance and helped greet attendees.

Thank you to our dairy members who helped make Ag Council’s Dairyfest a successful outreach event.

Ag Council Comments on the Groundwater Sustainability Draft Regulations

Ag Council drafted and submitted comments to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) regarding the Groundwater Sustainability Program Draft Strategic Plan (Plan).  The California Cattlemen’s Association and Western Growers Association also signed on to the comments provided to DWR.

The coalition thanked DWR for its transparency and stakeholder outreach in the development of its regulations.  However, the coalition raised a number of concerns including:

  • Considering surface water and groundwater as “a single resource”
  • DWR’s goal of total elimination of long-term groundwater overdraft
  • Oversight and enforcement
  • Funding
  • Seeking clarification on the regulation timeline
  • Protecting privacy
  • Adjudications and
  • Preserving California’s right to use groundwater

The coalition also asked DWR to clarify the role of the State Water Resources Control Board and its responsibility of acting as the “backstop.”

Please click HERE to view a copy of the letter.

Ag Council President Testifies at Dairy Pricing Hearing

On June 3, Ag Council President Emily Rooney testified at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in support of a pricing proposal submitted by Western United Dairymen, Milk Producers Council and the California Dairy Campaign. The proposal, supported by Ag Council’s dairy members, would modify the sliding scale within the 4b formula in a way that is more consistent with the federal order.  This plan would last for twenty-four months and bridge the gap needed as the cooperatives work to bring California into the Federal Milk Marketing Order.

Ag Council’s comments mostly focused on the historic drought and a recent report released by the University of California, Davis that projects additional losses throughout agriculture in 2015, including the dairy sector.  For a copy of the post-hearing brief including testimony and the report from UC Davis, please click HERE.

NEXT UP:
Panel Presentation at the State Water Resources Control Board

On June 12, Ag Council participates as part of a panel testifying at the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) regarding the fee process.  Click HERE to see the agenda for the SWRCB Water Quality Fees Stakeholder Meeting.

Budget Deadline

The Legislature is required under the California Constitution to approve a budget by June 15.  Ag Council and coalition of ag groups are working on water issues of concern in the trailer bills that accompany the state budget.  The issues we oppose and are working to amend or eliminate from the budget trailer bills include:

  • A water rights fee increase for 16 new positions at the State Water Resources Control Board, which we oppose.  This is a tax that requires a 2/3 vote.  Instead, we ask that the funds come from the general fund.
  • Public access to well logs. Only state and local agencies need this information.
  • $10,000 fine for the first offense for watering on the wrong day. Instead, we request that the state to implement a progressive penalty schedule for watering on the wrong day.
  • The budget expands the monitoring and reporting of water diversions beyond the drought. We oppose this provision unless it is amended.

If you’re interested in learning more about these issues, please do not hesitate to contact us at ph. (916) 443-4887.

Deadline Approaching for State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Applications

With the passage of recent emergency drought legislation, the 2015 State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) is providing up to $10 million in grants to agricultural operations for the implementation of water conservation measures and systems that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in irrigation systems.  A maximum grant of $150,000–with a recommended 50 percent match of the total project cost–per project can be awarded. The funding derives from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Projects must benefit a California agricultural operation to qualify. For more information regarding application requirements and the link to apply, click HERE.  Applications are due by June 29, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.