Governor Brown signs $1 billion emergency drought package

Moving swiftly to help communities cope with California’s devastating drought and the ongoing effects of climate change, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed emergency legislation – AB 91 and AB 92 – that fast-tracks more than $1 billion in funding for drought relief and critical water infrastructure projects.

“This funding is just one piece of a much larger effort to help those most impacted by the drought and prepare the state for an uncertain future,” said Governor Brown. “But make no mistake, from Modoc to Imperial County, rain is not in the forecast and every Californian must be doing their utmost to conserve water.”

Governor Brown joined Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Republican Leaders Assemblymember Kristin Olsen and Senator Bob Huff last week to announce agreement on the $1 billion legislation, which accelerates emergency food aid, drinking water, water recycling, conservation awareness, water system modeling, species tracking, infrastructure and flood protection funding. For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/

Today’s announcement builds on unprecedented action from the State Water Resources Control Board over the past year to prohibit wasteful water use and encourage Californians to conserve. These emergency regulations – the most stringent statewide measures in California’s history – include strict limits on outdoor irrigation (two days a week in much of California), bans on hosing down outdoor surfaces, decorative water fountains that don’t recirculate water and car washing without an automatic shut-off nozzle and requirements that bars and restaurants only serve water upon request and hotels ask guests staying multiple nights whether linens and towels need to be washed.

The Governor has also taken critical steps to prepare the state for prolonged droughts, leading the campaign to pass Proposition 1, California’s $7.5 billion water bond, which won bipartisan approval in the Legislature and was approved overwhelmingly at the polls. The funds represent the most significant statewide investment in water supply infrastructure projects in decades – a package that includes surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration, and drinking water protection. Additionally, for the first time in California’s history, Governor Brown signed legislation creating a framework for local, sustainable management of groundwater, which accounts for about one-third of California’s water supply.

Over the past two years, state and federal water regulators have also limited water allocations from the State Water Project and Central Valley Project for agricultural users to historically low levels – between zero and 20 percent of contracted amounts and junior water rights have also been drastically curtailed. As growers grapple with these historically dry conditions, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has provided $10 million in grants to help implement more than 150 water conservation projects that will help save hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water statewide. An additional $10 million is expedited in this legislation to continue this program.

In addition to today’s funding, the state has committed more than $870 million in drought relief since last year to assist drought-affected communities and provide funding to better use local water supplies. Last month, Governor Brown met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in Sacramento to announce nearly $20 million in federal drought relief for California’s Central Valley Project.

In December 2013, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to quickly respond to the emerging drought impacts throughout the state. The following month, the Governor declared a drought state of emergency and the administration finalized a comprehensive Water Action Plan that charts the course for California to become more resilient in the face of droughts and floods moving forward. Later in 2014, the Governor issued executive orders to further strengthen the state’s ability to manage water and habitat effectively in drought conditions and streamline efforts to provide water to families in dire need.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste. Visit SaveOurWater.com to find out how everyone can do their part and Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

Link to news release

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Soil Health – a conversation between Secretary Ross and “Sammy Soil”

The theme of California Ag Day at the State Capitol last week was “Breaking New Ground,” with soil health a key focal point. During the event, CDFA Secretary Karen Ross took a moment to discuss the issue with “Sammy Soil,” who appeared on behalf of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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US honey production up 19 percent – from the USDA

Bees

United States honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to information compiled by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

There were 2.74 million colonies producing honey in 2014, up 4 percent from 2013. Yield per colony averaged 65.1 pounds, up 15 percent from the 56.6 pounds in 2013. Producer honey stocks were 41.2 million pounds on December 15, 2014, up 8 percent from a year earlier.

Honey prices increased to a record high during 2014 to 216.1 cents per pound, up 1 percent from 214.1 cents per pound in 2013. United States and state-level prices reflect the portions of honey sold through cooperatives, private, and retail channels.

California saw its production volume decrease slightly in 2014, from 11.5 million pounds in 2013 to nearly 10.9 million pounds, but the value of production increased, from $22.4 million in 2013 to nearly $23 million.

Link to production information

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State Food and Ag Board President takes water-saving measures on walnut farm – from KXTV

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Video – a look back at AG Day 2015

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Governor Brown, legislative leaders announce $1 billion emergency drought package

SACRAMENTO – Mobilizing state resources to face another year of extreme dry conditions, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin Olsen to announce legislation to help local communities cope with the ongoing, devastating drought. The $1 billion package will expedite bond funding to make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies.

“This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” said Governor Brown. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

The legislation includes more than $1 billion for local drought relief and infrastructure projects to make the state’s water infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events.  The package accelerates $128 million in expenditures from the Governor’s budget to provide direct assistance to workers and communities impacted by drought and to implement the Water Action Plan. It also includes $272 million in Proposition 1 Water Bond funding for safe drinking water and water recycling and accelerates $660 million from the Proposition 1e for flood protection in urban and rural areas.

“Taken together, this package provides a major boost to our state’s efforts to manage the drought and strengthen our infrastructure,” said pro Tempore De León. “I want to thank the Governor and the Speaker for working together to respond to this crisis. It shows how we—as leaders–can get things done when we all work together in common purpose.”

“The drought isn’t letting up, so we can’t let up either,” said Speaker Atkins. “This legislation will deliver relief to Californians harmed by the drought and help us manage the significant problems the drought continues to cause. Since our skies are still clear—our job is too. And making sure we meet emergency needs, prepare for short term problems, and advance longer-term projects are an important part of that effort.”

“I want to thank the Governor, the pro Tem and the Speaker for inviting us today. We were briefed on this proposal just this morning, and so far it sounds like a good approach.  We need to review the legislation in detail but it seems like a reasonable start,” said Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff. “Republicans have consistently said that storage is essential for providing a reliable water source to all of California for future generations. The Prop 1 water bond that was passed last year is a critical step forward in meeting the needs for California’s future. There’s no question California’s drought crisis has worsened, as once again we’ve experienced a dry winter.  With the hot summer months approaching, it’s incumbent on all Californians to be responsible with how they use water. It’s critical that we act now.”

“This emergency drought relief is an important band aid,” said Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen. “We must move beyond temporary fixes. Projects to increase water supply have been hung up in government red tape for decades. I’m glad today we are making decisions that help people and look to us all to take real actions on long-term projects so emergency actions are no longer needed.”

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which Californians rely on heavily during the dry summer months for their water needs, is at a near record low. The March snowpack measurement came in at 0.9 inches of water content in the snow, just 5 percent of the March 3rd historical average for the measurement site. The overall water content for the Northern Sierra snowpack came in at 4.4 inches, just 16 percent of average for the date. Central and southern Sierra readings were 5.5 inches (20 percent of average) and 5 inches (22 percent) respectively. Only in 1991 has the water content of the snow been lower.

Taking action to further strengthen water conservation in the state, the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday voted to expand and extend an emergency regulation to prohibit certain water use, such as washing down sidewalks, and create a minimum standard for outdoor irrigation restrictions by urban water suppliers.

Since last February, the state has pledged over $870 million to support drought relief, including money for food to workers directly impacted by the drought, funding to secure emergency drinking water supplies for drought impacted communities and bond funds for projects that will help local communities save water and make their water systems more resilient to drought. Last month, Governor Brown met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in Sacramento to announce nearly $20 million in federal drought relief for California’s Central Valley Project.

In December 2013, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to closely manage precious water supplies, to expand water conservation wherever possible and to quickly respond to emerging drought impacts throughout the state. The following month, the administration finalized a comprehensive Water Action Plan that charts the course for California to become more resilient in the face of droughts and floods and the Governor declared a drought state of emergency. In April 2014, the Governor called on the state to redouble their efforts at combating drought.

Last fall, the Governor signed legislation requiring local, sustainable groundwater management as well as legislation to put a water bond before voters, which won bipartisan approval in the Legislature and was approved overwhelmingly at the polls. He also issued an Executive Order streamlining efforts to provide water to families in dire need as the extreme drought continues to grip the state by making funding available through the California Disaster Assistance Act to provide water for drinking and sanitation to households currently without running water.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste. Visit SaveOurWater.com to find out how everyone can do their part and Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

Link to news release

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USDA provides $57.9 million to protect agriculture and plants from pests and diseases

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $57.9 million in funding, provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill), to support project suggestions from across the country to prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests, diseases and pathogens, as well as to ensure the availability of a healthy supply of clean plant stock in the United States.

The economic stakes for stopping invasive species are high, with scientists estimating the total economic cost of all invasive species to be approximately $120 billion annually.

“Through the Farm Bill we are working with our partners and stakeholders to not only ensure the global competitiveness of our specialty crop producers but to fight back against the destruction caused by invasive pests,” said Vilsack. “The projects and centers funded through this effort are helping to develop and put in place the strategies, methods and treatments that safeguard our crops, plants, and our natural resources from invasive threats.”

Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill supports two programs: Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Programs and the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN).  The Farm Bill provided $62.5 million for these programs in fiscal year 2015, though funding was reduced by sequestration.

Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Programs

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) sought suggestions from states and U.S. territories, universities, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private companies and tribal organizations for projects that would provide a direct impact in managing pests and diseases, as well as disaster prevention. APHIS is funding 438 suggestions across the United States, as well as in Guam and Puerto Rico. The projects approved for allocation will help states and other partners continue providing and strengthening protections against agricultural threats and could also allow the reallocation of resources to other critical programs.

View the full list of funded Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Programs suggestions in the FY 2015 funding plan here.

Funded Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Programs suggestions include:

  • $170,000 for a statewide survey for Khapra Beetle in California;
  • A total of $165,975 to study attractants for the Giant African Land Snail shared by California, Hawaii and Florida;
  • $290,951 to analyze adult honey bee samples from across multiple U.S. states for diseases and pests such as the Varroa mite, to continue monitoring honey bee health across the United States;
  • $504,317 for 39 states to survey bee populations and study bee health;
  • $787,679 for eight Tribal projects to support outreach and education initiatives and projects related to mitigation and control strategies of invasive pests; and
  • Funding for states to enhance their ability to survey for grape commodity pests and disease ($489,405), stone fruit pests ($1.07 million) and small fruit and mixed berries ($155,443)

Prospective projects were evaluated by teams comprised of USDA experts and industry representatives and were selected based on criteria that supported six goals — enhancing plant pest/disease analysis and survey; targeting domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhancing and strengthening pest identification and technology; safeguarding nursery production; enhancing mitigation capabilities; and conducting outreach and education about these issues. The teams also evaluated submissions based on expected impacts of the project, the technical approach, and how submissions would complement ongoing USDA programs and other previously funded projects.

National Clean Plant Network

APHIS is allocating $5 million in funding as part of the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) in support of 25 projects in 18 states that focus on providing high quality propagated plant material free of targeted plant pathogens and pests.  The Farm Bill funds provided to the NCPN help maintain the infrastructure necessary for growing disease and pest-free plants, improving diagnostic capabilities and providing therapeutic treatments in specialty crop plants, and establishing foundation stock.  The goal is to make sure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available and ensure the global competitiveness of U.S. specialty crop producers.  This year, APHIS is funding projects to support developing and propagating pest-free fruit trees, grapes, hops, berries, citrus, roses and sweet potatoes.

The NCPN Governing Board, which is comprised of USDA representatives and members of the National Plant Board, recommended the projects to be funded.  Priority was given to projects that support existing facilities with established capabilities for maintaining and providing nuclear/foundation stock, and for conducting diagnostics and different therapeutic treatments.  The NCPN supported clean plant centers are recognized leaders for enabling the introduction of high quality, regionally adapted, propagative plant materials that are free of targeted plant pathogens and pests.  This supports opportunities for international trade, while protecting American nurseries and growers.

View the full list of selected suggestions and the FY 2015 National Clean Plant Network funding plan here.

The public can help protect America’s agricultural and natural resources by being aware of invasive pests and the damage they cause. APHIS created the Hungry Pests public outreach program to empower Americans with the knowledge they need to leave these “hungry pests” behind. Visit http://www.Hungrypests.com during April, which APHIS has proclaimed Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, to learn more about invasive plant pest and diseases impacting your area and how you can help. And, join the discussion about invasive plant pests via the Hungry Pests Facebook page.

Today’s announcement was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/farmbill.

Link to news release

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Ag Day 2015: A beautiful day to be a farmer

California’s agricultural community gathered today on the west steps of the State Capitol to show, see and share the bounty of our state’s farmers and ranchers. It was a perfect day for such a celebration (although to be perfectly honest, the farmers would have preferred rain). In keeping with the United Nations’ declaration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils, the theme for Ag Day this year was “Breaking New Ground.”

Special thanks to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s partners in organizing Ag Day, the California Women for Agriculture and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.  Thanks also go to our emcee, Kitty O’Neal of KFBK Newsradio, as well as event sponsors the California Egg Farmers, the California Alpaca Breeders Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Grown, the California State Board of Equalization, the California Strawberry Commission, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, Got Milk?, John Deere, the Kubota Tractor Company-California, and the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Enjoy these photos from Ag Day at the Capitol, and we hope to see you all again next year!

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Reminder – Ag Day today at State Capitol!

Please join us and tag your photos with #agday2015
Ag Day 2015 Square Poster

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Ninety-seven percent of US farms are family-owned – from the USDA

Corse-1-2-family-pic

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports that family-owned farms remain the backbone of the agriculture industry. The latest data come from the Census of Agriculture farm typology report and help shine light on the question, “What is a family farm?”

“As we wrap up mining the 6 million data points from the latest Census of Agriculture, we used typology to further explore the demographics of who is farming and ranching today,” said NASS Statistics Division Director Hubert Hamer. “What we found is that family-owned businesses, while very diverse, are at the core of the U.S. agriculture industry. In fact, 97 percent of all U.S. farms are family-owned.”

The 2012 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report is a special data series that primarily focuses on the “family farm.” By definition, a family farm is any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the operator and individuals related to the operator, including through blood, marriage, or adoption. Key highlights from the report include the following five facts about family farms in the United States:

Five Facts to Know about Family Farms

1. Food equals family – 97 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are family-owned operations.

2. Small business matters – 88 percent of all U.S. farms are small family farms.

3. Local connections come in small packages – 58 percent of all direct farm sales to consumers come from small family farms.

4. Big business matters too – 64 percent of all vegetable sales and 66 percent of all dairy sales come from the 3 percent of farms that are large or very large family farms.

5. Farming provides new beginnings – 18 percent of principal operators on family farms in the U.S. started within the last 10 years.

“Whether small or large – on the East Coast, West Coast, or the Midwest – family farms produce food and fiber for people all across the U.S. and the world,” said Hamer. “It’s due in part to information such as this from the Census of Agriculture that we can help show the uniqueness and importance of U.S. agriculture to rural communities, families, and the world.”

The 2012 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report classifies all farms into unique categories based on three criteria: who owns the operation, whether farming is the principal operator’s primary occupation, and gross cash farm cash income (GCFI). Small family farms have GCFI less than $350,000; midsize family farms have GCFI from $350,000 to $999,999; and large family farms have GCFI of $1 million or more. Small farms are further divided based on whether the principal operator works primarily on or off the farm.

To access all the data products from the Census typology report, including Highlights, infographics and maps, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov.

Link to news release

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