ADVOCACY: Your Farm Bureau Working for You

Written By: Tawny Tesconi, Executive Director
Published: July 1, 2018
“As the united voice of Agriculture, our MISSION is to represent, protect and advance the social, economic and educational interests of the farmers and ranchers of Sonoma County.”

 

Here are the key issues we have been working on:

Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Revised Local Agency Management Plan (LAMP):

At their May 22nd meeting, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors considered revisions to the Sonoma County Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Manual (OWTS) Local Agency Management Plan (LAMP). These revisions to the County manual was in response to enhanced requirements imposed by the California State Water Resources Board. SCFB joined other organizations in expressing concerns about the new requirements outlined in the LAMP and requested a six-month extension of adoption of the plan to allow for more stakeholder engagement. The Board of Supervisors supported our extension request and formed an Ad-Hoc Committee with Supervisor Rabbitt and Supervisor Hopkins as the appointed members.
Our initial review of the revised manual indicates that there are major revisions to the requirements with dramatic shifts from prior framework and we are concerned with the stringent regulations being proposed for voluntary septic system repairs. SCFB and technical advisors will represent farmers and rural landowners in advocating for less restrictive requirements while ensuring these local regulations comply with state requirements.

 

Groundwater Sustainability Agencies and Groundwater Management Plans:

DWR recently released its draft recommendations for SGMA reprioritization and Sonoma County figured prominently in their recommendations. Unfortunately, Alexander Valley, Wilson Grove Highlands and Dry Creek were upgraded to medium priority and now must comply with SGMA. In addition, the Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley, and Sonoma Valley Basins were increased to high priority. There will be a two-month public comment with final prioritization in mid-October. SCFB will be working with agriculture stakeholders to provide written comment on these draft recommendations.

 

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD CLOSES August 20, 2018

You may make you public comments online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SG2N83R
OR visit: https://www.water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/Basin-Prioritization
Contact the CA Dept. of Water Resources at: General Inquiries:
sgmps@water.ca.gov OR (916) 653-5791

 

Proposed Housing Bond:

In response to concerns expressed by the SCFB board and other organizations, the Housing Bond Ad Hoc Committee is considering various mechanisms to fund the housing bond. These proposed funding methods are intended to be less obtrusive on landowners. At their May meeting, the SCFB Board voted to oppose a countywide housing bond regardless of the funding mechanism proposed. We content that agriculture is the only local industry that has made significant progress with remarkable success toward workforce housing and the proposed bond fee structure unjustly overtaxes all farmers, wineries and landowners. Instead of seeking additional funding, our board would like to see public agencies more effectively manage the housing-designated funds that are already collected.

State of California Water Board, Waste Management Plans (WMP) for Dairies: We are working closely with our local dairy farmers and the North Coast Regional Water Board on a Waste Management Plan (WMP) that will blanket existing dairies under one permit. For decades, dairies have been following effective waste management practices and any additional regulatory requirements put on these operations is unjustified. Most notable is the inclusion of language related to AB52, a bill passed in 2014 that added the requirement for tribal consultation into CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). The draft Waste Management Plan (WMP) being discussed has language that includes tribal oversight of waste management on dairies. SCFB is concerned about the inclusion of this requirement in the draft WMP, and we are working with water board staff, Western United Dairyman and California Farm Bureau Federation to eliminate this requirement.

 

City of Santa Rosa, Reclaimed Water Program:

The Farm Bureau held a meeting for all ag users who participate in the City of Santa Rosa Reclaimed Water Program. Working together, we plan on solidifying contractual language, rate information and best management practices that will support the diverse needs of the various commodities that use this water. An educational outreach campaign will also be developed to educate the public and city officials about the benefits provided by agriculture using this recycled resource.

 

Agricultural/Animal Rights Activists

To better assist our local agricultural community, the Farm Bureau is developing a series of educational programs and resources to help farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists be prepared for any potential protests on their property. Keep updated through our weekly e-blasts or follow up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SonomaCountyFarmBureau

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To represent, protect and advance the social, economic and educational interests of the farmers and ranchers of Sonoma County.