Reminder to Report Mileage for Ag Trucks Enrolled
For those with trucks that are registered as low-mileage, limited mileage or specialty farm vehicles in order to significantly delay compliance with the Diesel Truck and Bus Regulation, mileage for 2013 must be reported to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) by today, Jan. 31. Those with registered trucks should be familiar with the process to report mileage, which has been required for several years now. If you have any specific questions about reporting your mileage, please do not hesitate to contact Justin Oldfield in the CCA office.
In addition, CCA is also working proactively to explore new provisions that would delay compliance costs for livestock trucks driving higher annual miles for the board's consideration in April. These provisions would be in addition to the low and limited mileage agricultural provisions that CCA worked diligently to see adopted in 2008 when the rule was passed to provide the most comprehensive relief for any industry in the rule. In order to provide a defensible compliance alternative for livestock trucks, detailed fleet information will be necessary. If you have a truck used to haul livestock that was required to be retrofitted on Jan. 1, please call Justin Oldfield in the CCA office to determine what alternatives may be helpful to ensure your truck keeps running in the new year. CCA will remain on the front lines for you regarding all transportation issues impacting the livestock industry and your bottom line.
National Beef Announces Plan to Close Brawley Site
National Beef Packing Company (National Beef) today announced plans to close its beef processing facility located in Brawley, California. The last day of production is expected to be April 4. Approximately 1,300 employees working at the facility will be impacted by this closure and will be offered support, including assistance finding employment at other National Beef facilities.
A declining supply of fed cattle available for the Brawley facility was a key driver of the decision to close the plant, said Tim Klein, chief executive officer, National Beef. "This was a very difficult decision for us to make because of the impact on our employees and suppliers. We are optimistic about the long-term prospects for U.S. beef demand and we will continue to focus on expanding our position as the industry leader in value-added beef products."
"We have a committed, hard-working team of employees and suppliers in Brawley, and we truly understand the impact this will have on them," said Brian Webb, vice president and general manager, National Beef. "We are grateful for their service to our company and we will work closely with them during this transition."
National Beef has not determined the future status of the facility. National Beef acquired the Brawley facility in 2006.
Sierra National Forest Moves Forward with Forest P
The U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region released the final assessments for the Sierra National Forest, the Bio-regional assessment, and a preliminary Need to Change document last week. Feedback from the public on the Need to Change document is encouraged, because it will directly impact how the Sierra National Forest revises its management plan. The document can be viewed here. Feedback should be submitted by Jan. 31 to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Land Management Plan Revision, U.S. Forest Service, Ecosystem Planning Staff, 1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592. If you are interested in receiving the CCA talking points on the subject, please contact Justin Oldfield by email at Justin@calcattlemen.org or by phone at (916) 444-0845.
The Sierra National Forest is also hosting a public workshop to offer information about the forest plan revision process, explain the key themes of the Sierra National Forest plan to be revised, and gather public feedback on the preliminary Need to Change. The workshop will be held Monday, Jan. 27 from 5-9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Fresno-Airport, 5090 East Clinton, Fresno, CA 93727.
For more information about forest plan revisions, visit the Pacific Southwest Region's planning website.
House Passes $956 Billion Farm Bill
After two years of partisan deadlock, the U.S. House of Representatives, earlier this week, approved a $956 billion farm bill in a bipartisan vote. Members approved the House-Senate agreement on farm policy in a 251-166 vote. A majority of Republicans backed the bill, with 63 GOP no votes. But a majority of Democrats opposed it, with 103 voting no.
Scott George, National Cattlemen's Beef Association president and Cody, Wyoming cattleman expressed NCBA's disappointment with this decision.
"The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is deeply disappointed that the House passed a farm bill conference report that does not address the regulatory issues creating challenges for our cattle producers.
"The conference report does not protect producers' personal information from being released through FOIA requests submitted to EPA, or address EPA's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure rule. The final agreement does not include the House-passed GIPSA language to refocus USDA's regulations to align with Congressional intent from the 2008 Farm Bill and fails to protect interstate commerce of agricultural products. We are also concerned the conference report does not address mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling to find a WTO-compliant resolution so our cattle producers are not left with retaliation from two of our largest export markets for U.S. beef. Even though our best opportunity to address these issues was in the farm bill, our membership will continue to seek solutions on these regulatory issues impacting cattlemen and women."
While there were a lot of important issue not addressed in the Farm Bill the final language provides a permanent livestock disaster assistance program for ranchers affected by natural disasters, and also covers ranchers who were affected by recent droughts.
The U.S. Senate will likely vote Tuesday afternoon on the Conference Report. It is expected to pass the Senate.
The Farm Bill Conference Report could reach President Obama's desk for his signature as early as Tuesday evening. He is expected to sign it into law.
DWR Drops State Water Project Allocation to Zero
To protect Californians' health and safety from more severe water shortages in the months ahead, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today took actions to conserve the state's precious resources. As a result, everyone -- farmers, fish, and people in our cities and towns -- will get less water. DWR's actions are in direct response to Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.'s drought State of Emergency. In the declaration, the Governor directed DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to act to modify requirements that hinder conservation of currently stored water and allow flexibility within the state's water system to maintain operations and meet environmental needs.
"The harsh weather leaves us little choice," said DWR Director Mark Cowin. "If we are to have any hope of coping with continued dry weather and balancing multiple needs, we must act now to preserve what water remains in our reservoirs."
Except for a small amount of carryover water from 2013, customers of the State Water Project (SWP) will get no deliveries in 2014 if current dry conditions persist and deliveries to agricultural districts with long-standing water rights in the Sacramento Valley may be cut 50 percent -- the maximum permitted by contract -- depending upon future snow survey results. It is important to note that almost all areas served by the SWP have other sources of water, such as groundwater, local reservoirs, and other supplies.
"It is our duty to give State Water Project customers a realistic understanding of how much water they will receive from the Project," said Director Cowin. "Simply put, there's not enough water in the system right now for customers to expect any water this season from the project."
DWR also has asked the SWRCB to adjust water permit terms that control State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project operations in order to preserve dwindling supplies in upstream reservoirs for farms, fisheries, and cities and towns as the drought continues.
While additional winter storms may provide a limited boost to reservoir storage and water deliveries, it would need to rain and snow heavily every other day from now until May to get us back to average annual rain and snowfall. Even then, California still would be in a drought, because normally wet December and January have been critically dry - and follow a record dry 2013 and a dry 2012.
This historic announcement reflects the severity of California's drought. After two previous dry years, 2014 is shaping up as the driest in state history. Storage in key reservoirs now is lower than at this time in 1977, one of the two previous driest water years on record. Yesterday's Sierra snow survey found the snowpack's statewide water content at only 12 percent of average for this time of year.
Lake Oroville in Butte County, the principal SWP reservoir, is at 36 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity (55 percent of its historical average for the date). Shasta Lake north of Redding, California's and the federal Central Valley Project's (CVP) largest reservoir, is at 36 percent of its 4.5 million acre-foot capacity (54 percent of average for the date). San Luis Reservoir, a critical south-of-Delta reservoir for both the SWP and CVP, is at a mere 30 percent of its 2 million acre-foot capacity (39 percent of average for the date).
Key facts on water deliveries and impacts:
* Never before in the 54-year history of the State Water Project has DWR announced a zero allocation to all 29 public water agencies that buy from the SWP. These deliveries help supply water to 25 million Californians and roughly 750,000 acres of irrigated farmland.
* Deliveries to senior water rights holders in the Sacramento Valley -- all agricultural irrigation districts - were last cut in 1992.
* The only previous State Water Project zero percent allocation was in 1991 for agriculture, but cities that year received 30 percent of requested allocations.
* "Carryover" water stored by local agencies and water transferred from willing sellers to buyers in critically short areas still will be delivered, as will emergency supplies for drinking, sanitation, and fire protection.
Cattle-Fax Weekly Market Highlight Jan. 31, 2014
The fed cattle market was not fully established as we go to press, but holds a softer undertone. Boxed beef was lower this week, retracing part of the steep increases noted over the past few weeks. Buyer demand for end cuts slowed, accounting for much of the loss.
Overall movement of boxes remained limited. Feeder cattle values were mostly steady for the week, while calves were steady to as much as $5 lower. The steepest of the decline was noted on light weight calves. Even though cattle currently being sold out of feedlots are profitable, high breakevens on cattle now being placed into feedlots is limiting demand, especially in the South Plains yards. Corn prices were modestly higher this week as exports increase.