in the KNOW

September 28, 2012

Brown Signs Bioenergy Measure

A renewable energy bill authored by Senator Michael Rubio (D-Shafter), SB 1122, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown this week.

Ag Council supports SB 1122, which facilitates methane capture before it enters the atmosphere allowing the methane to be used to generate renewable power. Sources of methane include food and agricultural facilities, animal waste facilities, farms and waste water treatment plants.

SB 1122 requires the California Public Utilities Commission, within the feed-in-tariff program, to include an additional 250 megawatts of bioenergy projects that begin operation on or after June 1, 2013.

Senator Rubio said, “I thank Governor Brown for signing SB 1122 and allowing our state to harness the huge untapped potential from renewable biomass and biogas projects.”

“The Central Valley stands to directly benefit from bioenergy projects, as well as help minimize the significant impacts of methane pollution on air quality and public health,” Rubio said.

Read Senator Rubio’s full statement HERE.

Animal Welfare Bill Now Law

This week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a controversial measure backed by the Humane Society and other animal welfare groups to ban the use of dogs to hunt bears and bobcats in California.

The bill by Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), SB 1221, includes exceptions, such as when a dog is guarding crops or livestock.

Read more in an article HERE.

Heat Illness Bills

At the time of the publication of this newsletter, Governor Jerry Brown has yet to sign or veto the heat illness bills, AB 2346 and AB 2676, pending consideration on his desk.  The deadline for the Governor to sign or veto bills is September 30.

Both bills are unnecessary given that the state already has a well-structured regulation in place to protect farmworkers from heat illness, and the regulation is protecting lives and is supported by the ag community.

Ag Council and many other ag and business organizations are seeking a veto of AB 2346 and AB 2676 and have communicated that message to the Governor. For further details, please read the joint coalition letters to the Governor by clickin HERE.

Farm Bill Remains Stalled

Members of Congress left for their home districts this week for the November 6 election without passing an extension of the Farm Bill, which expires on September 30, 2012. Despite this, under a six-month continuing resolution approved by Congress, most Farm Bill programs remain in operation through March 2013.

One program operating on a different timeline is the Milk Income Loss Contract program (MILC), which expires on December 31. It is a compensation program for dairy farmers during times of low prices. The current MILC program is operating at a decreased level, and MILC is eliminated in the new Farm Bill as approved by the Senate and pending consideration in the House of Representatives.

The 2012 Farm Bill passed in the Senate earlier this year and is awaiting further action in the House.  Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently said the House will consider the measure after the election. The House is set to reconvene November 13.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal HERE.

New Exec at Delta Stewardship Council

Chris Knopp was recently announced as the new executive officer of the Delta Stewardship Council replacing the retiring Joe Grindstaff. Knopp served a 34-year career with the U.S. Forest Service with his last position as supervisor at the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. In that position, he worked to develop the largest forest restoration project in the Western U.S.

Regarding his new position, Knopp said, “The task of the Delta Stewardship Council to achieve a coequal solution is daunting, but achievable. It represents the challenge of a lifetime. Success will require balance and compromise – and sound science so the nature of the compromises can be known and understood.”

The Delta Stewardship Council was developed under state law to achieve state mandated coequal goals for the Delta. “Coequal goals” refers to the two goals of 1) providing a more reliable water supply for California and 2) protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem.

Read more about the announcement HERE.

Specialty Crop Block Grants

At its next meeting, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture will focus on the department’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The meeting will be held on October 2 at 10 a.m. in the main auditorium at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) located at 1220 N Street in Sacramento.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said, “The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program helps to support food safety research, marketing and innovation for a large percentage of California grown products. But unless congressional action is taken to pass a Farm Bill, this and other federal farm programs will be eliminated.”

Ross continued, “In not passing a Farm Bill, Congress is negatively impacting job growth, reducing resources to local communities, and prolonging much needed disaster assistance.”

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture to augment the competitiveness of specialty crops throughout the U.S. The program was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops.

For more information about the meeting, click HERE.

Value Added Producer Grants

Value Added Producer Grants Applications are available for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. The application deadline is October 15, 2012.

The VAPG program assists producers entering into value-added activities by helping with the marketing and/or processing of products. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Family farmers and farmer and rancher cooperatives, among others, are encouraged to apply.

Read more HERE on USDA’s website.