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in the KNOW

September 26, 2014

Ag Council Speaks Out Against Fee Increases for Waste Discharge Permits

Ag Council President Emily Rooney spoke before the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) this week to oppose the board’s proposal to increase water quality fees under the Waste Discharge Permit Fund. Ag Council members, particularly from the dairy community, also attended the board meeting to oppose the fee increases. This issue impacts many of our members.

Heading into the meeting, agriculture was facing fee increases on the Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR) permit of 7.9 percent and 31.9 percent for the Confined Animal Facility (CAF) permit. The WDR permit is utilized when discharging wastewater to farmland. CAF is the permit required for dairies and large feedlots. In addition to these fee increases, the SWRCB staff recommended the board adopt an entirely new fee schedule for dairies in the North Coast and a cap on a discount for dairies that comply with an environmental certification program, known as the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP). This cap would have imposed a 90 percent fee increase on the state’s largest dairies.

SWRCB members DeeDee D’Adamo and Tam Doduc led a discussion expressing disappointment at the lack of stakeholder engagement in development and communication of the proposed fee schedule. Chair Felicia Marcus agreed. As a result, the board directed staff to develop a more comprehensive stakeholder engagement process and to report back at SWRCB’s December board meeting. They also requested additional analysis of compliance costs. Additionally, the board adopted a fee schedule implementing the fee increase on WDR, a 33 percent fee increase on CAF, excluding the cap on the certification discount and delaying the fee for the North Coast dairies. The Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program has no fee increase at this time.

Ag Council is greatly concerned about the lack of stakeholder input and lack of transparency in the budget process. At the SWRCB meeting, Rooney urged the board to create a more collaborative working relationship with stakeholders by citing examples at the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Air Resources Board. She also committed to work with staff on its stakeholder process.

To read Ag Council’s comment letter against the proposal, click HERE.

Ag Council Annual Meeting in San Francisco March 4-5, 2015

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Mark your calendars for Ag Council’s 96th Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with CoBank’s Pac-West Customer Meeting, March 4-5, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. The Golf Tournament and PAC Fundraiser will be held at TPC Harding Park on March 4.

Ag Council looks forward to seeing our members and friends in San Francisco. Program information and registration will be available on Ag Council’s website in December.