Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Your Agricultural Advocate

March 2022

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in March:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” March Guests: Rachel Morrison, Sola Bee Farms; Ryan Taylor, Panizzera Meat Co.; Hannah Stefenoni, Clover Sonoma; and Brooke Hazen, Goldridge Farms.

 

Annexation of the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District Into the Sonoma County Fire  District

On March 2, 2022, LAFCO unanimously approved the annexation of the Bodega Bay Fire Protection District (BBFPD) into the Sonoma County Fire District. During the annexation process, Sonoma County Farm Bureau advocated on behalf of BBFPD’s goal to join the Sonoma County Fire District. This merge will ensure the BBFPD staff stability, equitable pay, and career opportunities.

 

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog; Threatened Status with Section 4(d) Rule for Two Distinct Population Segments and Endangered Status for Two Distinct Population Segments 

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau, along with many other County Farm Bureaus, signed a letter written to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Supervisor that provides comments in opposition to the Service’s Proposed Rule to list four of six DPSs of the foothill yellow-legged frog in California. The letter speaks in support of the exclusion of the North Coast and North Sierra DPSs in the proposal and also requests that the Service consider further expanding the proposed 4(d) Rule.

 

Pollinator Friendly Habitat and IPM Collaboration 

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau has agreed to participate under California Farm Bureau as an in-kind sponsor of the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The objective of the project would be is to assemble neighboring agricultural producers to work together to install pollinator habitats and implement best management practices (including IPM) with the overarching approach that producers collectively enrolling would have a greater impact than randomly distributed habitat projects.

 

2022 Capitol Ag Conference

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, attended the 2022 Capitol Ag Conference hosted by California Farm Bureau on March 15th and 16th, 2022. Capitol Ag Conference marks the beginning of the annual policy review and development process as the Issue Advisory Committee meetings bookend the conference. IAC members and general Farm Bureau members were invited to engage during the Leaders Conference focused on legislative activity and connecting with key state policymakers.

Sonoma Water Drought Town Hall

Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, spoke at Sonoma Water’s Drought Town Hall on Thursday, March 10, 2022. Representatives from the State Water Resources Control Board, National Marine Fisheries Service, Santa Rosa Water, and the California Department of Water Resources spoke alongside ED Tesconi. Speakers discussed ongoing drought conditions, water supply management efforts, and conservation measures in place to preserve the region’s water supply. 

 

County and State Political Races

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau has announced endorsements for the following candidates: Assistant Sheriff Engram for Sonoma County Sheriff, Supervisor David Rabbitt for Sonoma County District 2 Supervisor, Congressman Mike Thompson for California’s 5th District, Carla Rodriguez for District Attorney, and Deva Marie Proto for Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters.

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board continues to interview candidates for various county and state-wide races for the 2022 election year. Candidates must request a meeting with our organization to go through the interview process.

Repeal the Death Tax Act:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau continues to support the Repeal the Death Tax campaign, to restore Proposition 58, as it works to collect 1.3 million signatures by April 26, 2022, to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. Those interested in signing the Repeal the Death Tax petition or gathering signatures on their own may visit the Sonoma County Farm Bureau during office hours to sign their name or pick up petitions.

 

 

February 2022

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in February:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” February Guests: Beth Porter, Executive Director of Giant Steps; Paul Ahvenainen, Korbel Director of Winemaking; Chase Cianfichi of Chasin Goat Grazing; and Rachel Boring of Boring Farms.

AB-1218 Zero-Emission New Passenger Vehicle and Light-Duty Truck Goals Defeated

Thanks to the hundreds of members at Sonoma County Farm Bureau and neighboring county Farm Bureaus who contacted legislators, the proposed AB1218 law has been defeated. This defeated bill means Sonoma County farmers, ranchers, and growers will not have to buy expensive electric farm vehicles in the near term.

 

FSA & NRCS Application Challenges Meeting with Congressman Thompson

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and other key members hosted Congressman Thompson to voice their concerns over the current challenges many Sonoma County Farm Bureau members are facing while applying for FSA and NRCS grants. Sonoma County Farm Bureau Directors and members gave testimonials describing their poor experiences with the Petaluma FSA office. Directors and members present at the meeting with Congressman Thompson were able to share their ideas on how to improve the application processes at the FSA and NRCS offices to make receiving the grant money allocated for farmers, ranchers, and growers more easily accessible. 

 

Repeal the Death Tax Act:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau continues to support the Repeal the Death Tax campaign as it works to collect 1.3 million signatures by April 26, 2022, in an effort to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. Those interested in signing the Repeal the Death Tax petition may visit the Sonoma County Farm Bureau during office hours to sign their name or pick up petitions.

This proposed initiative will restore Proposition 58– the ability of parents or grandparents to transfer a home of any value plus certain other property to their children or grandchildren without reassessment. The exclusion from reassessment for “other property” had previously been capped at $1 million of assessed value; the Repeal the Death Tax Act adjusts that figure (set in 1986) for inflation and now excludes up to $2.4 million of assessed value of property other than the principal residence. A home of any value would once again be excluded from reassessment when transferred, even if the children do not live there. 

 

County and State Political Races

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board continues to interview candidates for various county and state-wide races for the 2022 election year. Candidates must request a meeting with our organization to go through the interview process.

 

GSA Fee Proposal Letter

Sonoma County Farm Bureau wrote a letter addressed to the GSA Board Members and Advisory Committee Members to request that the Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley, and Petaluma Valley GSAs consider adopting a fee mechanism that provides the GSAs and landowners with the most flexibility to address basin needs while somewhat spreading the costs to all beneficiaries and users of the basins. SCFB requested the GSA Board and Advisory Committee to consider the following principles when adopting fees to fund the GSA for years 0 to 5:  all beneficiaries of the groundwater basins should contribute to GSA costs; all persons and lands adversely impacting groundwater resources should also contribute to GSA costs; the fee program should provide incentives through fee discounts for landowners who increase groundwater recharge, improve water quality or undertake other actions that benefit the basins; and utilize a fee mechanism that allows GSAs to fund implementation projects and not just administration and planning.

 

Groundwater Sustainability Farm Plan Workbook

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Sonoma Alliance for Viticulture and the Environment (SAVE) created a 174-page workbook that outlines sustainable business strategies, ecosystem management, water and viticulture, soil management, vineyard water management, pest management, and winery water conservation. 

 

Board of Supervisors County Center Relocation Letter

Sonoma County Farm Bureau President, Jennifer Beretta, addressed Supervisor Gore in a letter expressing her concern over an agenda item brought forward on the February 24th board meeting to dedicate millions of dollars to the final purchase of the defunct Sears Building. President Berretta encouraged Supervisor Gore to put a deep-reaching cost-effectiveness lens on this project, but without any proof that this relocation is fiscally responsible, it is hard to think that moving is less costly than improving the Board of Supervisor’s current footprint. Since many of those the Sonoma County Farm Bureau serves are in the more rural corners of our County, President Beretta believes that the county rebuild project should also include costs associated with creating satellite facilities in distant areas to provide attainable services for the county’s more vulnerable population that need critical health and safety services. Piecemealing these interconnected facility needs is not efficient and will likely result in a less than desirable outcome.

 

Leadership Santa Rosa Agricultural Day

Executive Director Tawny Tesconi presented at Leadership Santa Rosa’s Agriculture Day alongside Sonoma County Farm Bureau President, Jennifer Beretta, and SCFB Board member, Doug Beretta. ED Tesconi discussed the mission of Sonoma County Farm Bureau and how it fits into local agriculture as well as provided an overview of today’s opportunities and challenges in ag.

 

Senator Dodd’s Senate Bill regarding Wild Pigs:

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is working with Senator Dodd and his team on a bill he is proposing to manage the wild pig population. A UC Agriculture and Natural Resources white paper indicates that there is an estimate of $1.5 billion in economic damage nationally to agriculture and the environment from damages caused by feral pigs. The bill would remove the requirement for hunters to get hunting permits for pigs and would instead require wild pig verification registration. There are parts of the bill that need further clarification and consideration, and we have reached out to the Senator’s staff to discuss these items.

Executive Director Tawny Tesconi was interviewed on February 7, 2022, on Fox 2 KTVU regarding the Senate Bill.

 

Water Scarcity and Drought:

Executive Director Tesconi continues to work with several other agencies and the State Water Board to find long-term solutions for Sonoma County farmers and growers regarding the drought and water availability. One project that will be introduced this spring is the Voluntary Drought Initiative which will be available for water rights holders along the Russian River.

 

January 2021

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in December:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” January Guests: Stephanie Tavares-Buhler, Senior Acquisition Specialist at Ag + Open Spaces; Troy Sanderson, President, and CEO of Exchange Bank; Jake and Mike Martini, of Taft Street Winery.

Supervisorial Districts Staffing Letter:

Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, addressed Supervisor James Gore and the Board of Supervisors in a letter concerning the agenda item labeled #37 “Supervisorial Districts Staffing” on their most recent Board of Supervisors meeting. ED Tesconi highlighted that for people who live in the unincorporated areas of our county, their only government is the County of Sonoma. So, the significance of county-governed decisions is more impactful to rural community members, some of whom are socially or economically disadvantaged. Residents and businesses in the unincorporated regions of our county rely on their County Supervisors and their support staff for representation and resolution in these areas. ED Tesconi asked that the Board take into consideration the higher level or more complex touchpoints that district staff has with rural residents and farmers when considering their Supervisorial Districts Staffing agenda item.

Repeal the Death Tax Act:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau continues to support the Repeal the Death Tax campaign as it works to collect 1.3 million signatures by April 26, 2022 in an effort to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. Those interested in signing the Repeal the Death Tax petition may visit the Sonoma County Farm Bureau during office hours to sign their name.

This proposed initiative will restore Proposition 58– the ability of parents or grandparents to transfer a home of any value plus certain other property to their children or grandchildren without reassessment. The exclusion from reassessment for “other property” had previously been capped at $1 million of assessed value; the Repeal the Death Tax Act adjusts that figure (set in 1986) for inflation and now excludes up to $2.4 million of assessed value of property other than the principal residence. A home of any value would once again be excluded from reassessment when transferred, even if the children do not live there.

County and State Political Races:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board continues to interview candidates for various county and state-wide races for the 2022 election year. Candidates must request a meeting with our organization to go through the interview process.

 

California Board of Forestry:

In a collaborative effort, several county farm bureaus, including Sonoma County Farm Bureau, submitted comments to the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection in regard to their proposed Minimum Fire Safe Standard Regulations. There were several regulations that threaten agriculture, but the most significant was they’re terming agricultural lands as greenbelts, how the regulations defined existing versus new roads, and what authority defined agricultural operations. If you would like to review the submittal, please contact the SCFB office.

 

Senator Dodd’s Senate Bill regarding Wild Pigs:

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is working with Senator Dodd and his team on a bill he is proposing to manage the wild pig population. A UC Agriculture and Natural Resources white paper indicates that there is an estimate of $1.5 billion in economic damage nationally to agriculture and the environment from damages caused by feral pigs. The bill would remove the requirement for hunters to get hunting permits for pigs and would instead require wild pig verification registration. There are parts of the bill that need further clarification and consideration, and we have reached out to the Senator’s staff to discuss these items.

 

Water Scarcity and Drought:

Executive Director Tesconi continues to work with several other agencies and the State Water Board to find long-term solutions for Sonoma County farmers and growers regarding the drought and water availability. One project that will be introduced this spring is the Voluntary Drought Initiative which will be available for water rights holders along the Russian River.

 

December 2021

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in December:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” November Guests: Robbie Bisordi of Bisordi Ranch; Eamon O’Bryne, Executive Director of Sonoma Land Trust; Jennifer Crane, and co-owner of Crane Melon Barn.

 

Potter Valley Project Bypass Request 

Sonoma County Farm Bureau President, Jennifer Beretta, addressed PG&E Director, Mike Schonherr, in a letter requesting that PG&E adjust the Potter Valley Project operations through March 8, 2022, to maintain a diverted flow of approximately 140 CFS through the bypass. 

The water diverted through the project is critical to farmers that rely on Lake Mendocino as a water source for their livelihoods. This is especially important due to the extreme drought conditions this region is facing. In addition, many fish species would benefit from this diversion, and many other ecological benefits would be realized.  

 

Proposition 12

Sonoma County Farm Bureau President, Jennifer Beretta, addressed Dr. Cox, the Program Manager of the Department of Food and Agriculture to urge the Department to provide a full exemption from Proposition 12 for all junior livestock exhibitions and county fairs.

Sonoma County Farm Bureau knows firsthand the positive impact that youth experiencing agriculture education through hands-on projects has on our community and the future of agriculture. An exemption to Proposition 12 is warranted as youth projects are not the same as commercial livestock production and should not be subject to the same regulations. Restrictions put on the exhibitors and the fairs will become prohibitive to youth agriculture education. 

California Proposition 12, the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, was approved by voters on November 6, 2018. The law addresses minimum confinement requirements for veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens. On January 1, 2020, these minimum confinement requirements went into effect for hens and calves. On January 1, 2022, breeding pigs came under this regulation, and the floor space required for hens was increased beyond the amount required 2 years earlier. 

 

Rohnert Park-Cotati Rotary Meeting

Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, was invited to be the speaker for the Rohnert Park-Cotati Rotary meeting in December. As a past president and current member of Rotary, Tawny is always happy to speak on behalf of the Farm Bureau and Sonoma County agriculture at community meetings such as these.

 

County and State Political Races

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board continues to interview candidates for various county and state-wide races for the 2022 election year. Candidates must request a meeting with our organization to go through the interview process.

November 2021

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in November:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” November Guests: Mark Soiland of Soiland Rocks; Karen Passafaro, Truffle Farmer; and Bret Hardesty from Harmony Farm Supply.

County Redistricting Letter to the Editor

Sonoma County Farm Bureau President, Jennifer Beretta, wrote a letter to the Editor at the Press Democrat expressing her concern over the proposed redistricting maps for Sonoma County. While she shows support for Roseland’s inclusion in the district that governs the City of Santa Rosa proper, she points out that there must be a less impactful approach to defining the other districts. Small changes to the five district boundaries can meet the inclusion of Roseland into District 3 while keeping all districts constant and will also maintain communities of interest.

Congressional Redistricting

Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, addressed the Chair of the California Redistricting Committee in a letter regarding the redistricting of Districts 2 and 5. Tawny urged the Chair to reconsider the current redistricting plan as presented in the visualizations. Sonoma County Farm Bureau strongly believes that Napa, Lake, and the eastern part of Sonoma County should continue to have a shared representative based on their similarities of special communities of interest. The communities share similarities in agriculture crop production, resource management, and regulatory oversight. Changing the boundaries as currently proposed will create additional hardship for those who rely on the coordination and strength of the combined communities while tackling significant issues like ongoing recovery from wildfires and other natural disasters.

 

Daft Groundwater Sustainability Plans Comments

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau, the Sonoma Alliance for Viticulture, and the Environment (SAVE), and the Sonoma County Vintners prepared three comments specific to improving, through collaboration, the three Groundwater Sustainability Plans that include opportunities by farmers to protect water resources and sustain our agriculture heritage. 

  1. Incorporation of a voluntary, third-party certified, practice-based Farm Plan that encourages, educate, and provides conservation/resource enhancement opportunities for farmers 
  2. An agriculture-based robust groundwater water quality and groundwater level monitoring program that will further inform the farming community and the implementing body of the GSA of those conditions on agricultural lands 
  3. An agriculture-based surface-groundwater interaction monitoring program to further inform the farming community and the implementing body of the GSA of those interactions on agricultural lands 4. An agriculture-based Adaptive Management Program to identify future impacts and opportunities to sustainably manage groundwater related to changed conditions associated with agriculture activities 

 

Office of Equity Letter to the Editor

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board Member, John Bidia wrote a letter to the editor at the Press Democrat regarding the Office of Equity and the recent loss of two top County officials who cited frustrations over microaggressions and racial bias. John asked if the whole point of the Office of Equity to prevent such things from happening, especially within the county’s ranks. He recommended the county take a step back, reevaluate and follow through on the promise it made to its staff and community.

 

Direct Action Everywhere Preliminary Hearings at Sonoma County Superior Court

On November 16, 2021, Wayne Hsiung, Priya Sawhney, Cassandra King, and Almira Tanner from Direct Action Everywhere had their first day of court for their preliminary hearings on the felonies they are facing for breaking into multiple Petaluma chicken farms in 2018. Sonoma County Farm Bureau staff attended the first two days of the hearings in support of Sonoma County agriculture and family farming. Sonoma County Farm Bureau will continue to support local farmers and ranchers through this trial process in whatever way they can.

 

Healdsburg Sunrise Rotary Meeting

Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, was invited to be the speaker for the Healdsburg Sunrise Rotary meeting in November. As a past president and current member of Rotary, Tawny is always happy to speak on behalf of the Farm Bureau and Sonoma County agriculture at community meetings such as these.

 

County and State Political Races

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board continues to interview candidates for various county and state-wide races for the 2022 election year. Candidates must request a meeting with our organization to go through the interview process.

October 2021

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in October:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” October Guests: Jennifer Crawford, of Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch; Chris Call from North Bay Credit Union; Samantha Dorsey from McEvoy Ranch; and Sara Glashan from 4-H.

Alexander Valley Recharge Initiative

Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Sonoma Alliance for Viticulture and the Environment (SAVE), and Jackson Family Wines (JFW) have proposed a regional On-Farm Aquifer Recharge initiative in the Alexander Valley. The high probability of future droughts, coupled with the loss of Eel River summertime flows through Lake Mendocino, makes this project not only timely but also critical. 

The proposed effort will use Russian River peak flows to recharge underlying groundwater.  Wells adjacent to the Russian River will pump underflows during flood periods into a new pipeline that will convey water to properties, such as yours, throughout Alexander Valley.  Existing on-farm irrigation and frost protection infrastructure will be used to apply water to the land.  Ultimately, the water will infiltrate into groundwater for later use. Much of the costs associated with the new infrastructure (wells, conveyance pipes, pumps, boosters, etc.) will be paid with grant money.

The organizations distributed a questionnaire to water users along the Russian River to gather data to inform the process.

 

Magnolia Global Academy for Leaders

Sonoma County Farm Bureau drafted a letter of support towards the Magnolia Global Academy for Leaders (MGAL). It strongly encouraged the Petaluma City Schools Board of Education to authorize the creation of the school.  

Sonoma County Farm Bureau sees firsthand the need in our community for more robust, more equitable, and inclusive schools that serve all students. The MGAL will ensure that all students are welcomed, supported, and included based on our information.  

 

County of Sonoma Request for a Reduction in its RNHA Allocation

Sonoma County Farm Bureau President, Jennifer Beretta, addressed Therese McMillan, the Executive Director of the Association of Bay Area Governments, in a letter urging her support for a reduction in the RHNA Allocation in the County of Sonoma.   

As important as housing is to our community, the need to keep our unincorporated rural areas in crop and livestock cultivation is vital. Sonoma County Farm Bureau is not suggesting that less housing be mandated, but that additional housing is inside the urban growth barriers where water, sewer, and amenities are easily accessible and less costly. Please keep our working lands working and minimize the number of housing mandates on these unincorporated parcels managed by the County of Sonoma. Sonoma County Farm Bureau agrees that the 1,910 housing units proposed are more realistic for the existing local infrastructure. 

 

Insurance Commissioner Lara Announces Comprehensive Solution to Growing Agricultural and Commercial Insurance Needs

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara proposed a comprehensive solution for commercial insurance coverage after several destructive wildfire seasons because of continuing work with the Farm Bureau on the issue of wildfire insurance coverage. Working with the California Farm Bureau, he is addressing the growing needs for a competitive insurance market for farm owners, wineries, and other outdoor businesses. Commissioner Lara’s solution involves strengthening the FAIR Plan, California’s insurance safety net, while aggressively reducing wildfire risk through a combination of insurance incentives and mitigation.

Commissioner Lara announced that he will order the California FAIR Plan, the state’s insurer of last resort, to increase its coverage limits, which have not been increased in more than 24 years, to keep up with inflation to be a more effective backstop for California’s commercial businesses. This will build on Commissioner Lara’s and the Farm Bureau’s support for Senate Bill 11 (Rubio) this year, which Governor Newsom signed into law allowing the FAIR Plan to insure farm structures.

 

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Supported AB 1103

AB 1103 would benefit farmers and ranchers by granting any qualifying agricultural producer or managerial employee access to the rancher’s livestock during a natural disaster – most notably wildfires. Unfortunately, when wildfires threaten commercial ranching operations, road closures often prevent ranchers from ensuring the health and well-being of their animals. Without access, ranchers cannot provide feed and water to their livestock, administer veterinary care, or evacuate the animals away from the immediate threat. Governor Newsom signed AB 1103 on October 7, 2021.

 

SB 539, a Prop 19 Clean-up Bill, has Been Signed by Governor Newsom

Members may recall that six months ago, Farm Bureau was successful in amending the legislation to include significant clarifications to help further protect family farms from new, significant property tax increases upon transfer of ownership. While these clarifications and amendments were vital to limiting property tax burdens on agriculture, Proposition 19 implementation will likely remain an ongoing challenge for all Californians. Farm Bureau members are encouraged to revisit discussions with their appropriate estate planning professionals, given the legislative changes made by SB 539.

 

AB 535 signed into law

This measure would require a container of olive oil produced, processed, sold, offered for sale, given away, or possessed in California that includes “California” in any form on its principal display panel and contains olive oil derived from olives grown outside California to disclose the minimum percentage of olive oil in the container derived from olives grown in California. The original text of this bill caused concern for local producers; however, an amendment in July struck the term “containing.” This amendment addressed concerns from stakeholders, including several County Farm Bureaus.

 

 

September 2021

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in September:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” September Guests: Kelly Boyer, from LeBallister’s Seed & Fertilizer; Loren Poncia, of Stemple Creek Ranch; Christina Groverman (an expert on home preserving and canning); and Eamon O’Bryne of Sonoma Land Trust.

 

AB 616: 

The California Assembly and Senate passed legislation that will strip California farm employees of the right to a secret ballot election, supervised by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, to choose representation by a union. Unions have tried card checks before, but now they are trying to hide it under the auspices of a mail-in option. There is no option, it is simply a card check in another form.

Since the legislation passed both houses, it went to Governor Newsom in late August to sign into law. 

To demonstrate our concern with this legislation, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau attended the “Yes on Water, No on AB 616” rally organized by the California Farm Bureau at the State Capitol on September 9, 2021. This statewide Farm Bureau effort to encourage Governor Newsom to veto the bill worked – the Governor vetoed the pending legislation on September 21st

 

Ag Passes:

It is already October, and the County of Sonoma has not been able to reach a process for the interim Ag Pass Program. We are discouraged by the government’s effort and lack of understanding of how crucial an effective access program is to our farmers and ranchers during a wildfire evacuation incident is to our industry.

We hope that the lack of an access pass program does not get tested this year, but to provide support to our Sheriff’s Office should evacuation areas be established because of a wildfire, at the end of September, we distributed verification cards to all the people who attended one of the Ag Wildfire Safety classes that we held in 2020 and 2021. This will allow the Sheriff’s Office to access this system to ensure that community members seeking access into an evacuation area have attended the safety workshop. 

 

Drought:

As Sonoma County Agriculture proceeds to manage its way through the drought, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau continues to advocate for agricultural stakeholders through constant communication with the State Water Board, Sonoma Water, and various water task forces.

Executive Director Tawny Tesconi attends weekly meetings with stakeholders and regulatory agencies to ensure Sonoma County agriculture has a voice through these collaborative planning discussions.

 

Regional Housing Needs Determination Appeal

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau signed on to a letter written by Permit Sonoma’s Director, Tennis Wick, addressing Director McMillan of the Association of Bay Area Governments and their draft Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA). The letter encourages the Association of Bay Area Governments to appeal the RHNA in consideration of the zoning of rural land incapable of treating sewage for this density in violation of County and State regulations.  The draft RHNA also makes it difficult to reconcile conflicting State mandates – Firesafe, Vehicle Miles Traveled, Fair Housing, and Drought Emergency laudably fostering city-centered growth with a 654% draft RHNA increase spawning sprawl, fire risk, water waste, environmental pollution, and inequitable housing. 

 

Drought Town Hall for Southern Sonoma County

Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, attended the virtual Drought Town Hall on September 15, 2021, hosted by Supervisor Rabbit to share her member’s concerns about the drought and offer her expertise on the matter. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau appreciates the effort of Supervisor Rabbitt and Sonoma Water in hosting this important town hall and inviting Tawny to speak to its attendees. 

 

Sunrise Rotary Meeting

Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, was invited to be the speaker for the Sunrise Rotary meeting in September. As a past president and current member of Rotary, Tawny is always happy to speak on behalf of the Farm Bureau and Sonoma County agriculture at community meetings such as these.

 

FEMA certifying new maps for flood plain and wetlands in Santa Rosa

Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi addressed Representative Huffman and Representative Thompson in a letter concerning the new floodplain and wetlands maps that FEMA will be certifying. The new FEMA determination designates Todd Creek as a flood hazard. Not only could this FEMA determination negatively impact crop production, but it could also limit building improvements and sustainable land management. There was a public input process that was shared with Permit Sonoma, but the landowners and other members of the public were not informed of this planned mapping process. Tawny addressed Representative Huffman and Thompson in the hopes that they can work with FEMA to reopen the public comment period so that proper notification can be given to Sonoma County residents and due diligence will be realized.

 

 

August 2021

 

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in August:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” August Guests: Hector of Hector’s Honey Farm; Alissa Trinei from Manzana Products Company Inc; Steve Dutton of Dutton Ranch; and Jason Smith & Billy Wier from Bartley Pump.

 

Dry Creek Rancheria Tribe of the Pomo Indians Grant Proposal

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau drafted a letter to the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program manager in support of the Dry Creek Rancheria Tribe of the Pomo Indians grant proposal. This letter serves as formal support, approval of, and endorsement of the grant proposal.

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is excited to focus on outreach and stakeholder engagement which would include bringing groups together who have traditionally not had the opportunity to collaborate on water issues: tribal government, resource conservation agencies, and small farmers in the Alexander Valley. Bringing these groups together will allow for the development of a new vision for the Alexander Valley to discuss the priorities related to drought and future impacts of climate change. Through collaboration and building of trust amongst these groups, we will yield benefits far into the future and serve as a template for regions struggling to identify ways to meet our shared goals.

 

Urban Agriculture Letter to Cotati City Council

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau signed on to a letter addressing the Cotati City Council about Urban Agriculture. The letter respectfully urges the City of Cotati to consider the positive impacts to their community from urban agriculture within their city and demonstrate the city’s support for urban agriculture by aligning Cotati’s municipal codes to their own General Plan, Climate Action Plan, and California’s Community Food Production law. Urban Agriculture has many benefits to communities including social, health, economic impacts in addition to a multitude of environmental and climate benefits. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau asked that the City of Cotati move forward with amending the Cotati city zoning code to be in compliance with the General Plan and State law.

 

AB 616:

AB 616 passed the Senate floor on August 26, 2021, and will soon arrive at Governor Newsom’s desk for final approval. AB 616 will strip agricultural employees of the right to a secret ballot election supervised by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), to decide the very important question of union representation for those employees.

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau firmly believes that is no effective opportunity for the ALRB, or any third party, to safeguard agricultural employees from intimidation from anyone with a vested interest in the outcome of this election. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau has worked closely with many other county farm bureaus to defeat AB 616 through lobbying efforts at the state level and advocacy work.

 

Ag Passes:

Ag Passes should begin to be distributed by the end of the month of August. The Ag Commissioner’s Office is currently scheduling appointments to pick up Ag Passes for Sonoma County residents who have successfully completed the necessary requirements to obtain an Ag Pass for this fire season.

Sonoma County Farm Bureau continues to work with the Ag Commissioner’s Office and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office to develop a curriculum and facilitate the training necessary to ensure Sonoma County agriculture feels prepared for the upcoming fire season and receives their Ag Passes in a timely manner.

 

Drought:

As Sonoma County Agriculture proceeds to manage its way through the drought, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau continues to advocate for agricultural stakeholders through constant communication with the State Water Board, Sonoma Water, and various water task forces.

Executive Director Tawny Tesconi attends weekly meetings with stakeholders and regulatory agencies to ensure Sonoma County agriculture has a voice through these collaborative planning discussions.

 

Sonoma-Marin Fair:

Petaluma has requested a facility assessment of the Sonoma-Marin Fair, including a list of needed improvements; audited financial statements; copies of all lease agreements and contracts related to the property; a list of employee positions, duties, and compensation; disclosures related to potential hazards; and any plans the agency is exploring to produce a smaller fair.

Petaluma’s request for records has sparked panic among fair supporters who feel this confirms their fears that the city would seek to upend fairgrounds use and tradition.

Executive Director Tawny Tesconi continues to advocate for the City of Petaluma to keep the Sonoma-Marin Fair property available for the fair. She said there’s a need for an emergency evacuation center, a need for a year-round event center, and a need for an annual county fair.

 

Miyoko Schinner named one of  KZST’s Women Inspiring Women:

Executive Director Tawny Tesconi made a public statement about her and the agricultural community’s disappointment in KZST naming Miyoko Schinner as a “Women Inspiring Women” in one of their radio segments. Schinner has criticized local farmers and promotes that we should be consuming her plant-based food products made from cashews imported from Vietnam over milk products produced by our local dairies.

 

 

July 2021

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in July:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” July Guests: Jacob Dunn, Agriculture Teacher at Petaluma High School and FFA Advisor; Austin Lely, of Bee Well Farms; Lou Neve, of Neve Bros. Roses; Josh Skikos, of Andy’s Produce; and Rex Williams, Auctioneer.

USDA comment on Origin of Livestock:

Inconsistent enforcement of the USDA organic regulations for the Origin of Livestock, which govern the process of transitioning conventional dairy livestock to organic production, has been threatening the economic viability of many organic dairy farmers for more than a decade. The organic community has provided comments two times on the 2015 proposed rule that would stop the continuous transition and two-track system interpretation created by loopholes in the current regulation. But years of delay in finalizing this regulation have resulted in economic damage, financial hardships, and closure of businesses for organic dairy farmers following the true intent of the organic standards.

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau, along with the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Association, Western Organic Dairy Producers Association, Organic Farmers Association, and National Organic Coalition, drafted a letter to Secretary Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to urge the USDA to swiftly finalize an enforceable regulation that is applied equally to all certified producers.

S.B. 11, Fair Plan Insurance Availability for Agriculture:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau, along with various other California county farm bureaus and agricultural organizations, drafted a letter to Governor Newsom to request his immediate signature on Senate Bill 11. Senators Dodd and McGuire, working for our local farmers, growers and wineries, pushed for the legislation to be an urgency bill, and their effort was successful.

Senate Bill 11 removes the existing statutory exclusion of “farm risks” and replaces it with “commercial agricultural commodities or livestock, or equipment used to cultivate or transport agricultural commodities or livestock.” This clarification will provide certainty that agricultural infrastructure and personal property are eligible for insurance with the FAIR Plan.

On Friday, July 23rd, Governor Newsom thankfully signed the bill. However, it is expected that it will take 3-4 months for the California Fair Plan Insurance organization to have a program crafted for participation by our members.

The Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau submitted a letter to Representative Mike Thompson to ask that if he plans to reintroduce the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act in Congress, that he work with all stakeholders to ensure it does not make conservation more difficult or retroactively penalize those who have already participated in conservation efforts.

Reforms must not create a retroactive tax or eliminate the ability of a broader array of Americans to participate in conservation efforts. Changing the conservation easement incentive damages the fundamental structure of the system and will lead to less land preservation.

Fire Resilience for Farmers and Ranchers Workshop:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau partnered with Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) to host a Fire Resilience on the Farm workshop created with small farmers and ranchers in mind. Six speakers, all leaders in their areas of work, were selected to speak about various topics, including fire-smart land management, the new Ag Access program, regulations, permits, and personal & farmworker safety.

Justin Oldfield, California Cattle Council (CCC):

At their July meeting, the Farm Bureau board heard a report from Justin Oldfield, Executive Director of the California Cattle Council, regarding the mission of the recently formed CCC organization.  Justin shared samples of the various marketing and consumer education programs that they have accomplished with the funding they have received from the beef cattle and dairy cattle industries.

Supervisor Hopkins:

Supervisor Lynda Hopkins (5th District) was a guest at the July board meeting. The Supervisor provided an update on recent projects underway at the County, including updating the tree ordinance and the interim ag access program related to potential wildfire evacuation areas. Hopkins shared that she is pushing for the ag access program to be finalized by the end of July. Once issued, the access passes will be valid through the end of 2021.

 

June 2021

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in June:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” May Guests: Kelley Parsons, of Parsons Homegrown; Fred Frye, from Vintage Tree Care; Nick and Daniel Carlson, of Barndiva; and David Little, of Little Farms.

AB 616 Opposition Letter:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau drafted a letter sent to Senator Mike McGuire to urge him to oppose AB 616. AB 616 will strip agricultural employees of the right to a secret ballot election supervised by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), to decide the very important question of union representation for those employees.

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau firmly believes that is no effective opportunity for the ALRB, or any third party, to safeguard agricultural employees from intimidation from anyone with a vested interest in the outcome of this election.

Drought Response:

State Water Resource Board Letter:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau partnered with the Sonoma County Vintners Association and Sonoma Alliance for Vineyards and Environment (SAVE) to comment on a proposed resolution written by the State Water Resources Control Board concerning draft emergency regulations to address water shortage in the Russian River watershed.

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau, SAVE, and Sonoma County Vintners Association urged the State Water Resources Control Board to show support of California’s agriculture industry by removing Section 877.3 (d) from the proposed regulation.

GSA Meeting:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted an Agriculture Stakeholder GSA Meeting in regards to the 3 GSA basins. The attendees present at the meeting discussed agriculture groundwater recharge, the Warm Springs Dam Project, and GSA/GSP fiscal review. The outcome of the meeting was the decision to draft a letter to the 3 GSAs and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors with the agriculture community’s input.

Fire Prevention:

Comments on the Draft State Minimum Fire Safe Standard Regulations:

Sonoma County Farm Bureau, along with California Farm Bureau and Napa County Farm Bureau, have formed a coalition to address the revised Draft State Minimum Fire Safe Standard Regulations from the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection and are deeply concerned that certain components will have profound impacts on future local land-use decisions and California’s commercial agriculture industry.

The Regulation needs further discussion in several key areas to address our specific objections as well as those raised by other commenting parties. The Board should postpone any final decision on the Regulation to evaluate the public comments and provide the needed revisions as necessary.

 

May 2021

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’ interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in May:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” May Guests: Dayna Justus, Sonoma County 4-H mom; Summer Jeffus, Exchange Bank; Eric Schmies, Golden State Lumber; and Brad Petersen, Healdsburg Future Farmers Country Fair.

Cannabis Draft Ordinance:

The Cannabis Ordinance was heard by the Board of Supervisors on May 11. Leading up to that meeting, Tawny Tesconi, Executive Director, answered several calls and participated in meetings to discuss the ordinance and Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s position with members and nonmembers. As previously reported, Sonoma County Farm Bureau had lobbied against the proposal from county staff that the Sonoma County General Plan be amended to include cannabis as an ag crop.

The Supervisors heard several hours of public comment before determining that the proposed ordinance and the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) did not fulfill the county’s obligation to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The requested staff start the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process. In the meantime, Chapter 26, a previous ordinance that addresses all phases of the cannabis industry, will remain in effect.

Drought Response:

Drought has been the focus of your Sonoma County Farm Bureau. Bureau staff have compiled a Voluntary Water Conservation Manual which has been shared with our members and regulatory agencies. In addition, we created a Drought Funding Matrix that identifies various water efficiency and storage projects that could be completed on our local ranches, farms, and processing facilities if federal, state, or local funding was made available.

To secure water for those farmers who are needing to haul water for their farming operations, we worked closely with Supervisor Rabbitt and Sonoma Water to secure groundwater to share with city municipalities. This additional water being allocated to these cities will be earmarked for agriculture.

In support of our growers and farmers in northern Sonoma County, Executive Director Tesconi has participated in dozens of calls related to the Russian River water flow and voluntary water conservation efforts.

On Monday, May 10, Executive Director Tesconi was a panelist in a call organized by Congressman Huffman to discuss drought. In her comments, Tesconi discussed the need for additional funding specific to drought including reimbursement for lost crop revenues; the need for additional broadband and technology, an effort made to increase water storage through improving existing infrastructure or building additional ponds and reservoirs; and for relief from regulations that prevent projects from being timely and affordable.

Sonoma County Tree Ordinance:

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors had a study session on the existing county tree ordinances as a preface to a deeper dive into the protection of trees in Sonoma County. The Sonoma County Board is interested in updating the current tree ordinances before the General Plan is updated.

Based on the comments made by the elected officials, there is a likelihood that they will be pushing for additional regulations and permitting around tree removal. SCFB has asked to be included in this ordinance amendment/development process. We will keep you informed as the project progresses through Permit Sonoma.

Liability Insurance:

On Tuesday, May 24, the Farm Bureau hosted California Insurance Commissioner, Ricardo Lara, to hear first-hand from Farm Bureau members the challenges with wildfire insurance coverage after the series of wildfires that greatly affected growers, farmers, and ranchers in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Farm Bureau members were able to voice their concerns with Commissioner Lara by sharing their personal experience with the non-renewal of liability insurance, increased insurance rates, and drastically reduced coverage.

Sonoma County Farm Bureau members, Scott Newman of Newman Ranch, and mother and son pair, Che Casul and Pamela Angleman were able to represent Sonoma County agriculture during the event.

The California Insurance Commissioner discussed numerous ways his office is working to address the ongoing wildfire insurance coverage and cost issues and the current steps his office is taking to examine the problem and find solutions. “It is very important to me that we came here to Napa Valley with the Farm Bureau and heard directly from you about the challenges you’re experiencing,” said California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.

Supervisor Gore spoke about the urgent need to find affordable and effective insurance for our growers, farmers, and ranchers before the Sonoma County fire season begins. As President of the California State Association of Counties, Gore has been working closely with California Insurance Commissioner Lara to find a solution quickly.

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Executive Director, Tawny Tesconi, spoke on finding a resolution for the approaching fire season. “The Farm Bureau sponsored Senate Bill 11 that would provide basic coverage for ag infrastructure under the California FAIR plan is the first step in the right direction to creating insurance options for growers, farmers, and ranchers that are affordable and effective,” said Tesconi, “It is important that we continue to work with insurance companies and local elected officials to find ways to lower the ever-increasing cost of insurance. In the meantime, we must find an immediate solution for the many growers, farmers, and ranchers who are approaching this fire season with no insurance.”

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau will continue to work closely with California Insurance Commissioner Lara and elected officials to find affordable and effective insurance for growers, farmers, and ranchers for the upcoming fire season.

Senator McGuire’s Conversation with Farm Bureau Board members on Thursday, May 27:

Senator McGuire spoke to the Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board via Zoom at their May meeting. The Senator provided an overview of the state budgeting process and explained that the budget will be finalized by June 30. Senator McGuire explained that he is working to get more funding for Northern California’s drought-stricken communities specifically related to increased off-stream storage, more effective reclaimed water redistribution systems, and 3 million dollars to do tunnel studies at the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project.  When asked about funding for vegetation management on state-owned properties, he indicated that there has been new line items added to the state budget that allocates $90 million to the California State Parks Department and $90 million to California Fish and Wildlife that is earmarked for land management focused on reduction of fire load.

Senator Dodd’s Conversation with Farm Bureau Board members on Thursday, May 27:

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau Board also met with Senator Dodd at their May meeting. Continuing with the conversation around drought, Senator Dodd asked board members to provide input as to what projects would be the most beneficial for our local farmers when funding becomes available to mitigate the drought. Members shared that off-stream storage, wind machines, and funding for water recharge would be extremely helpful for our farmers and growers.

Regarding canceled liability insurance policies plaguing our members, Senator Dodd is the co-author of SB 11 which was introduced by Senator Rubio. If passed, this bill would allow agriculture permanent structures and farm equipment to be eligible for coverage under the California FAIR Plan. Often referred to as “insurance of last resort”, the California FAIR plan offers less coverage and higher costs. We are working for this to be only a temporary fix until more affordable and valuable insurance coverage can be developed to help our members.

 

April 2021

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our members’  interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in April:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” April Guests: Christopher Bailey, Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc.; Rick Williams, Harmony Farm Supply & Nursery;  Che Casul, CEO, Circuit Rider; and Sasha Berleman

Cannabis Draft Ordinance:

Tawny Tesconi, Executive Director, has been following the draft Cannabis Ordinance (Chapter 38) proposed by the County. The draft ordinance has been considered by the Planning Commission who continued a meeting over three dates, and on April 15 the Commission approved a draft resolution that will be recommended to the Board of Supervisors on May 11. Sonoma County Farm Bureau had lobbied against the proposal from County staff that the Sonoma County General Plan be amended to include cannabis as an ag crop. The Planning Commission has agreed with our position on this general plan amendment and is recommending that the Board of Supervisors NOT amend the General Plan to include cannabis within the meaning of “agriculture”, and “agriculture use” as used in the General Plan.

In addition, the Planning Commission is recommending with few substantial changes, the adoption of the proposed regulations outline in Chapter 38, suggested amendments to Chapter 26 and are strongly recommending an immediate effort to perform an environmental impact report.

This resolution was passed with a 3 to 2 vote by the Planning Commission.

For the latest information on the County’s Cannabis Ordinance, go here: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Cannabis/Legislative-Updates/County-Ordinances/

To read the written comments submitted by the SCFB, go here: https://conta.cc/311kqOZ

Drought Response:

Your Sonoma County Farm Bureau (SCFB) staff quickly moved from COVID-19 related services for our members to strategies and efforts related to the drought conditions we are experiencing in Northern California. Executive Director Tesconi has been working collaboratively with representatives from Mendocino County Farm Bureau and our Farm Bureau members in the upper Russian River to discuss water conservation. As part of this collaborative effort, Lauren Kelly, the SCFB Compliance Division Manager, is developing a Water Conservation Plan to be shared with regulatory agencies and our members.

In southern Sonoma County, we hosted a meeting to discuss the water scarcity in that region of our County and the challenges with hauling water that is crucial for many of our dairies as their ponds and reservoirs dry up. Grant Davis with Sonoma Water and 3rd District County Supervisor, David Rabbitt were our guests.

Sonoma County Tree Ordinance:

On Tuesday, April 13, Sonoma County Farm Bureau (SCFB) hosted a meeting for our members to hear more about the County’s current tree ordinances and plans related to tree management regulations. Three planners, Brian Oh, Doug Bush and Robert Aguero with Permit Sonoma presented during the meeting and provided a comprehensive discussion on the various tree ordinances being enforced in Sonoma County. Permit Sonoma has been directed to do stakeholder outreach related to the current tree ordinances. The information and comments gathered will be shared with the Board of Supervisors in June as a study session.

An outcome of this meeting is that the SCFB will seat an ad-hoc stakeholders’ group to inform and draft comments related to current requirements outlined in the existing ordinances and to suggest additional content for an updated ordinance. Although not confirmed by staff during this meeting, a county supervisor has shared that additional regulations are planned related to tree management in our county.

If you are interested in serving on the ad-hoc committee, please contact the SCFB office. To be on this committee, you must be a SCFB ag member and directly involved in a farming, ranching or forestry operation that is impacted by tree management regulations.

Support for Restored Funding for UCCE:

Sonoma County Farm Bureau (SCFB) has joined with the California Farm Bureau and many other county farm bureau organizations in our state to support restored funding to UCCE that has been stricken from the organization. Since 1990, UCCE’s budget has been reduced by 57%. The effort is requesting that the base funding for UCCE be at $76.5 million in this next fiscal year. In addition, SCFB signed on to other industry specific support letters regarding the UCCE funding needs too.

COVID-19 Pandemic Efforts:

Now 14 months into the Pandemic, your Farm Bureau staff, and the Board continue to focus on COVID-19 Pandemic projects, outlined below:

  • Staff continues to prepare and release Eblasts with COVID-19 related information.
  • Although the need for COVID-19 testing has slowed because of the availability of vaccinations, we are still offering the on-farm testing service to agriculture stakeholders. Contact our office if you are interested in this service.
  • We have had great success in getting ag workers vaccinated through the various health centers that serve rural communities in our County. We no longer have a waiting list of ag workers needing to get vaccinated but continue responding to the immediate needs of industry workers when they decide they do want the vaccination or for those employees who are arriving in our County to work in local vineyards, farms, and ranches. The health centers continue to prioritize farm workers and we are getting vaccination appointments quickly for our ag employees.

SB 11 (Rubio) – Farm/Ranch Property Insurance:

As an update to our report last month on SB 11, legislation sponsored by the California Farm Bureau to provide a property insurance backstop for the state’s farmers and ranchers was heard by the Senate Insurance Committee and passed unanimously by a vote of 12-0 and has been referred to the full Senate for a final vote. SB 11 has no opposition and is supported by a coalition of agricultural and insurance associations.  Farm Bureau has worked with the author, Senator Rubio, representatives of the California FAIR Plan, California Department of Insurance, PIFC, and the APCIA to address the very specific problem facing the state’s commercial farms. Senate Bill 11 (Rubio) is the legislative vehicle to fix the property insurance facing our industry.  In essence, the legislation will allow ag stakeholders to participate in the California FAIR Plan which had previously explicitly prohibited the FAIR Plan program from underwriting basic property insurance for commercial farms and ranches.

AB 332 (Assembly Environmental Safety) – Treated Wood Waste:

Sonoma County Farm Bureau submitted letters in support of AB 332 and the legislation has successfully passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is now on the Assembly Floor. This bill authorizes treated wood waste to be managed under alternative management standards instead of as a hazardous waste.

AB 535 (Aguilar-Curry) – Olive Oil Labeling:

Sonoma County Farm Bureau has submitted a letter in support of AB 535, legislation that would prohibit the representation of olive oil from a particular region in California unless at least 85% of the olives used were produced in that region. Also, it prohibits the representation of olive oil as “California Olive Oil” unless the olives used were produced in California. This legislation would extend to brand names, labels, advertising, and packaging.

Proposition 19 Aftermath:

There may be action taken at our Board meeting on Thursday.

 

March 2021

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here is what we did for you in March:

KRSH Radio Show, “From Farm to Table” March Guests: Adam Parks, Victorian Farmstead Meat Company; Jeff Kowell, Image Tree Service; Craig Anderson, LandPaths, and XXXX

COVID-19 Pandemic Efforts:

Now 13 months into the Pandemic, your Farm Bureau staff and the Board continue to focus on COVID-19 Pandemic projects, outlined below:

  • Staff continues to prepare and release Eblasts with COVID-19 related information.
  • Although the need for COVID testing has slowed because of the availability of vaccinations, we are still offering the on-farm testing service to agriculture stakeholders. Contact our office if you are interested in this service.
  • We continue our role as a major participant in the Sonoma County Stakeholders COVID-19 Vaccination Program workgroup and continue to advocate for food producers and processors to be the primary business sector get to vaccinated.
  • We have had great success in getting ag workers vaccinated through the various health centers that serve rural communities in our County. To date, almost 10,000 ag workers, farmers, ranchers, and growers have been vaccinated. Our work is not complete, and we will continue working to help health centers identify and schedule essential workers to get the vaccination. Any ag employer interested in being included in the Farm Bureau’s vaccination needs database should reach out to the Farm Bureau office today. Support businesses such as agriculture suppliers or companies that provide on-farm services to local agriculture should add their information to the database as well.

SB 11 (Rubio) – Farm/Ranch Property Insurance

The California Farm Bureau has introduced legislation designed to provide a property insurance backstop for the state’s farmers and ranchers. Our membership has found themselves caught up in the larger wildfire/property insurance crisis befalling many California communities. Over the past 12-16 months, statewide, Farm Bureau members and others have reported hundreds of farm and ranch property insurance non-renewals. After failing to find coverage on the private market, many turned to the state’s insurer of last resort – the California FAIR Plan. However, California law explicitly prohibits FAIR Plan from underwriting basic property insurance for commercial farms and ranches. Farm Bureau has worked with Senator Rubio, representatives of the California FAIR Plan, California Department of Insurance, PIFC, and the APCIA to address the very specific problem facing the state’s commercial farms. Senate Bill 11 (Rubio) is the legislative vehicle to fix the property insurance facing our industry.

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau signed onto a letter from CFBF to Senator Rubio expressing strong support for Senate Bill 11 and the importance of a property insurance backstop for California commercial farms and ranches.

Proposition 19 Aftermath

In conjunction with the California Farm Bureau, Sonoma County Farm Bureau continues to work on legislative fixes to lessen the detrimental impact that Proposition 19 will have on some of our members. There are currently two Senate bills that we are tracking and supporting to help California’s farm families.

SB-668, introduced by Senator Bates, will extend the transfer deadline for properties from the date that has already passed (February 16, 2021) to February 16, 2023. This is not the long-term fix that we need, but it will provide some additional time for families to work with their legal counsel to get intergenerational property transfers completed. We heard from several members who could not find a legal professional to help them make the transfer in the short time allowed between the passage of the proposition and the transfer deadline.

SB-539, introduced by Senator Hertzberg but coauthored by Senators Allen and McGuire) provides some clean-up language and clarification that generally support the interest of the agriculture industry.

Sonoma County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) Steering Committee

ED Tesconi has been asked to serve on the CWPP Steering Committee tasked with updating the County’s Plan enacted in 2016. The Plan primarily focuses on financial support for wildfire reduction programs, building relationships between stakeholders, and empowering communities to reduce risk. Stakeholders have been asked to share science-based assessments and GIS modeling tools to better understand wildfires and barriers to vegetation management practices to mitigate the impacts of wildfires.

Cannabis Draft Ordinance

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau (SCFB) Board submitted a 7 page written response to the draft Cannabis Ordinance (Chapter 38) proposed by the County. In essence, compared to the 2016 Cannabis Ordinance (Chapter 26) this new ordinance that only addresses cannabis cultivation would change the size of the grow on an allowed parcel from one acre to 10% of the parcel size. An allowed parcel has to be 10 acres or large and in specific zoning designations.

The SCFB platform opposes the onerous regulations being required for permitted cannabis grows in fear that these lofty regulations will eventually creep over to the traditional agricultural crops grown in our County.

As part of this ordinance process, the County is also proposing amending the General Plan to recognize cannabis as an agriculture crop. SCFB is adamantly against this General Plan amendment because cannabis is not a recognized crop by the federal government, and therefore is not under the same USDA oversight. We do not believe cannabis should be protected by the County’s Right to Farm Ordinance until it is recognized federally under the ag crop designation.

For the latest information on the County’s Cannabis Ordinance, go here: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Cannabis/Legislative-Updates/County-Ordinances/

To read the written comments submitted by the SCFB, go here: https://conta.cc/311kqOZ

February 2021

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in February:

Updated Guide to USDA Programs Opens Door to Millions of Dollars of Available Funding

It can be difficult to navigate the wide range of USDA resources and stay up to date with program changes after each Farm Bill. Thanks to the newly updated Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities, producers, researchers, nonprofits and landowners can easily find USDA programs that can help them achieve their goals.

Download Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities

The 101-page guide covers 62 government programs and has been updated to include program updates from the 2018 Farm Bill. Each program listing provides a description of the program’s available resources, information on how to apply, and in some cases, examples of how the funding has been used. The guide also includes basic information on how to design sound projects, find appropriate programs and write grant applications.
“Farmers are hungry for resources to help them get started or answer specific questions. Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities provides a comprehensive, one-stop-shop to many helpful programs,” says Kerri Ebert, coordinator of the Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops.

February 2020

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in February:

Animal Rights Activists

DXE on Trial – On February 20th, two of the DxE protesters were in Superior Court for their preliminary hearing on eight felony counts each. These alleged criminal actions stemmed from a protest at a Petaluma chicken farm in September 2018. Over 20 Farm Bureau representatives were in the courtroom to support landowner rights and the rights of our local farmers. Clad in bright green shirts stating, “I Support Local Farmers”, our presence was strong and felt by DxE leadership as evident by a Facebook post made later that day. Unfortunately, the defense attorneys were not prepared for the hearing and it was delayed until Monday, March 23rd. I hope you can join us on that day to support or farmers and to demonstrate that Sonoma County residents are strongly opposed to trespassing, harassment and property theft which seems to be the preferred actions of this international organization.

Diesel Engine Permits

Our stationary diesel engine registration program is underway, and we will be hosting a seminar to further explain our program and BAAQMD’s regulations.  Agricultural diesel engines larger than 50 bhp should have been previously registered with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Simply put, if you did not register your engine in the required time frame, your engine is considered out of compliance and registering now through the State’s portal will result in fines. Should you have missed the registration deadline, our free group Registration Program allows you to register your engines without experiencing fines and penalties. Please note that tier 0 or 1 engines must be replaced by December 31, 2020. To further explain this program and other BAAAQMD regulations, we are holding the same seminar in two locations for anyone interested (you are not required to be a Farm Bureau member). BAAQMD staff will be represented at these seminars and will answer questions on any program or regulation managed from their offices.

Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Location: Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Petaluma

 

Date: Thursday, March 5, 2020

Time: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Sonoma County Farm Bureau, 3589 Westwind Blvd., Santa Rosa

 

Meeting with Congressmen Mike Thompson

On Friday, February 21st, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted a lunch meeting for members to discuss federal policy related to agriculture with Congressman Mike Thompson. A strong supporter of agriculture and a Napa viticulturalist, Congressman Thompson encouraged farmers to contact his office with any concerns or requests regarding federal policy.

Split Role Tax Initiative

In conjunction with the California Farm Bureau Federation, SCFB is closely monitoring a potential property tax initiative that could negatively impact rural communities.  Known as Initiative 19-0008, the measure would establish a split-roll property tax that would reassess commercial and industrial property, including agricultural facilities. Backers are collecting signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. This initiative weakens Proposition 13, the 1978 tax-reform measure that limits property tax increases.  We will keep members informed should the initiative proponents succeed in getting this proposed legislation on the November ballot.

Wildlife Management Seminar

On March 12th at 3 p.m., SCFB will host an informative meeting for livestock producers regarding regulations and best policies related to protecting livestock from wildlife predators. Speakers include representatives from the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Ag Commissioner’s office and Animal Services and Control. Attendees must RSVP to attend this workshop.

 

Water Demand Management Program (Russian River Frost Protection Water Monitoring Program): A reminder to all vineyard owners/managers that your enrollment application for the Russian River Watershed Conservation Council’s group monitoring program was due on March 1st. If you have not turned your application and fees, please contact SCFB immediately.

 

SCFB Endorsements and Recommendations:

Shirlee Zane: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District Supervisor

Lynda Hopkins: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 5th District Supervisor

Measure I – Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District: Opposed

 

Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Your Agricultural Advocate

January 2019

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in January:

Animal Rights Activists

Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and other animal rights organizations continue to plague our farmers in Sonoma County.  Small groups of their followers have been showing up along roadways taking pictures and holding vigils for the animals. In addition, in mid-January their Facebook page reports that the San Francisco Animal Care Commission passed a resolution supporting nonviolent activists. Apparenytly, this was a big deal to DxE but not to anyone else. I cannot find any mention of the Commission’s actions in news stories or other media outlets. Big picture, It is DxE’s desire to have the San Francisco City/County supervisors adopt the Animal Bill of Rights, like the action the City of Berkeley took a few months ago.

On the other hand, Penal Code 597e, the legislation that DxE and other activist groups have used as their defense for trespassing and doing “open” animal rescues was amended by Assemblymember Fong through AB 1553. Assemblymember Fong’s successful legislation replaced references to a “pound” with references to an animal shelter. By more clearly memorializing the intent of this legislation, AB 1553 supports legal opinions of Penal Code 597e that have determined that activists cannot trespass onto farms to perform rescues under this code.

This month we also held our annual Beyond the Fence Line animal activist management training. Our subject matter experts who presented provided a wealth of information and suggested facility hardening and communication practices to our farmers in attendance. Additional information about the workshop is included in this edition of Farm News.

Activists charged in Sonoma County for a variety of crimes last year on our local farms are still going through the court process. We expect some of them to go to trial within the next few months and we will inform you of court dates. 

 

Diesel Engine Permits

Compliance Division Coordinator Denise Facendini is leading our efforts to help farmers with stationary diesel engines become compliant with air quality regulations. Agricultural diesel engines larger than 50 bhp must be registered with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Our free group Registration Program allows farmers to reach compliancy if they register their engines with us. (Operators whose diesel engines are not currently registered with the BAAQMD are out of compliance).  Tier 0 and 1 engines must be replaced by December 31, 2020. As part of our program, we will help farmers seek funding or assist with a request for an Alternative Compliance Plan (ACP) if replacement is not possible. Please call 707.544.5575 or email compliance@sonomafb.org for questions or to request our free services. 

San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board

Denise is also working on our Vineyard Permit Program. This is a voluntary, group program to assist local farmers to meet two requirements of the General Permit for Vineyards adopted by the San Francisco Bay Water Quality Board-Region 2 (Water Board) 1): payment of the required annual permit fee; and 2) submittal of a required water quality monitoring plan.  Participation in the group program will satisfy these requirements in a manner that is less expensive, and simpler than attempting to do so on an individual basis. Farm Bureau is not assuming the role of a regulatory agency, rather we are working in a liaison role to protect farmers from paying higher permit fees, the added cost and challenges of independently attempting to prepare the required water quality monitoring plan, and/or potential penalties of non-compliance.

Hemp

On Monday, January 6, Sonoma County Supervisors took steps toward lifting the ban on hemp cultivation. The supervisors unanimously agreed the county should treat hemp like any other crop and allow it to be grown on properties zoned for agricultural uses with best management practices. Executive Director Tesconi attended the meeting and urged the Supervisors to approve the ordinance and avoid requiring farmers interested in hemp cultivation to go through an expensive and time-consuming process, such as the one required for cannabis cultivation. Hemp, a recognized federally approved crop, should not have undo restrictions puts on it that could morph over to the production of other ag crops. In April, the final presentation on lifting the ban and accepting best management practices for hemp cultivation will go before the board of supervisors for their final approval.

Geyserville Fire District Potential Parcel Tax

On January 15, there was a 2nd public hearing at the Geyserville Fire Station. The proposed special tax, a parcel tax, was discussed and approved. The Northern Sonoma County Fire Protection District presented an updated proposal and rates that took into consideration concerns previously expressed by the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. The proposed parcel tax will go to a vote in a special election in May. 

Executive Director Tesconi said that she is wary of any tax that does not have a sunset clause on the proposed parcel tax and is concerned about the California Consumer Price Index annual increase built into the measure.  Visit https://geyservillefire.com/ to learn more about the proposed parcel tax.

 

SCFB Endorses the Following Candidates:

Shirlee Zane: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District Supervisor

Lynda Hopkins: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 5th District Supervisor

Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Your Agricultural Advocate

December 2019

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in December:

Animal Rights Activists

Several Direct Action Everywhere members are charged with felonies in Sonoma County. Originally, they were scheduled to appear in court on December 18, however, the hearing has been postponed. There has been a heightened effort by the animal rights activist group to gain public support to get the charges against their members dropped. Recently, DXE has been in Sonoma County and in the Coddingtown area encouraging businesses to put up posters to support their mission and to get the felony charges dropped.

Additionally, there was a Berkeley City Council vote – initiated by the Peace and Justice Commission on behalf of Direct Action Everywhere – on a resolution to support the group’s ‘right to rescue’ and oppose prison terms for “rescuers” and “whistleblowers”. The proposed resolution is available at the link below.

The ‘right to rescue’ resolution was passed unanimously by the Berkeley City Council. According to the live stream, it was not a formal vote and the wording in the resolution was changed slightly to be softer, but it ultimately says “rescuers” and “whistleblowers” don’t deserve to go to prison. It was noted by DXE representatives that they’re aiming next to get this passed in San Francisco and Oakland.

We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds in the new year.

Diesel Engine Permits

We recently hired our new Compliance Division Coordinator Denise Facendini who will be leading our efforts to help farmers with stationary diesel engines become compliant with air quality regulations. Agricultural diesel engines larger than 50 bhp must be registered with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Our free group Registration program extends the period in which you must upgrade your Tier 0-2 engines by 5 years. We will help get you registered and on the path towards compliance for free. Please call 707.544.5575 or email compliance@sonomafb.org for questions or to request our services.

Vital Lands Initiative

On December 16, President Carlton sent a letter detailing our areas of concern in the Vital Lands Initiative. Ag + Open Space staff indicated that they would take our key points into consideration. The Ag + Open Space District presented the Vital Lands Initiative to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on December 17, 2019, in a study session. Tawny Tesconi and Jeff Carlton attended the presentation and provided public comment expressing concerns about the lack of funding going allocated for agriculture. Currently, only 21% of the program funding is for agriculture.

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Region 2) Vineyard Permits

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is managing a voluntary, group program to assist local farmers to meet two requirements of the General Permit for Vineyards adopted by the San Francisco Bay Water Quality Board-Region 2 (Water Board) 1): payment of the required annual permit fee; and 2) submittal of a required water quality monitoring plan.” Participation in the group program will satisfy these requirements in a manner that is less expensive, and simpler than attempting to do so on an individual basis. Farm Bureau is not assuming the role of a regulatory agency, rather we are working in a liaison role to protect farmers from paying higher permit fees, the added cost and challenges of independently attempting to prepare the required water quality monitoring plan, and/or potential penalties of non-compliance.

North Coast Region Water Quality Control Board (Region 1) Vineyard Permits

The North Coast Region Water Quality Control Board is beginning to create vineyard permit requirements similar to those of the San Francisco Bay Water Quality Control Board. The final draft will be presented to the Water Board in 2021.

SCFB Endorses the Following Candidates:

Shirlee Zane: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District Supervisor

Lynda Hopkins: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 5th District Supervisor

 

Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Your Agricultural Advocate

October 2019

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in October:

 

City of Santa Rosa, Reclaimed Water Ag User Contracts:

As reported last month, on Thursday, October 3 the City of Santa Rosa’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) received a staff report on the proposed fees to be charged to ag water users for the reclaimed water available from the Laguna Treatment Plant. Farm Bureau members were strongly represented, and those members present advocated publicly for a one-year reprieve from the fee implementation. In essence, we pushed for no fees charged to any ag water users in 2020, even those currently paying fees. This one-year extension would give farmers an opportunity to plan for the pending costs and give the city staffers time to confirm the accuracy of meters and to repair equipment.  In this scenario, the graduated fee schedule would begin on January 1, 2021.

The BPU members expressed their appreciation to our local farmers for being such good partners over the years and for their part in the recent negotiations that resulted in the final agreement. At a 7 to 0 vote, the BPU approved the fee schedule and implementation plan that was advocated for by our farmers.

The City staff did indicate that there were two incomplete addendums to the agreement that deal with equipment and frost protection. We are uncertain what these addendums are about and encourage water users not to sign any agreements yet. Farm Bureau will continue working on behalf of our farmers on the agreement and related addendums.

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (SFRWQCB) Region 2, Petaluma River TMDL regulations:

We continue to monitor the potential Petaluma River TMDL regulations and have heard that comments made by SCFB, the County of Sonoma and our members were reviewed and positive changes to the proposed regulations are being made. The SFBRWQCB meets on November 13th and it is expected that the staff reports will be out in early November.

DxE, Animal Rights Group:

Hundreds of activists converged in the SF Bay Area for the Animal Liberation California Convergence on September 28-October 1.  Everything they do these days hits close to home. According to the DXE Facebook page, attendees were told that if they attended, they would “take action to protect Rose, the chicken we rescued from a factory farm last September, and we will demand that our government respond to the public’s concern for animals by protecting them under the law.” It is not a coincidence that they named the chicken they are using as propaganda “Rose”. She is named in reference to the criminal charges that have been filed in the Sonoma County courts and their visual images actually use the City of Santa Rosa’s iconic rose brand on their materials

The communications going out to DxE members suggested that they would be organizing protests on Monday, September 30 and Tuesday, October 1 somewhere in the vicinity of their Berkeley conference location. SCFB was on standby to alert our local farmers and to provide support if needed, but DxE chose to trespass at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco on Monday and the SF Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. At the beginning of their protest, their representative live-streamed that Sonoma County officials should learn something from San Francisco law enforcement since they were being allowed to protest without arrest. Their comments were short-lived however – eventually some protesters got arrested at both San Francisco locations.

DxE’s main platform for these protests was to seek legislation to allow open rescues (in essence, legalize trespassing). In addition, they are touting an Animal Bill of Rights that they are demanding to be adopted nationally.

2020 Sonoma County Fair, Fair Date Concerns:

The Sonoma County Fair Board and staff asked for our support in encouraging the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to allow the Santa Rosa horse racing meet to keep their traditional race dates in early August. An organization called California Association of Racing Fairs (CARF) is advocating to move the race dates for our local fair to late August. Obviously, holding the fair in late August will be detrimental to fair attendance since students will already be back in school. On behalf of our Farm Bureau, Executive Director Tesconi submitted a letter asking that the CHRB consider keeping the Santa Rosa dates in early August.

SCFB Endorses the Following Candidates:

Shirlee Zane: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District Supervisor

Lynda Hopkins: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 5th District Supervisor

 

 

Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Your Agricultural Advocate

September 2019

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in September:

 

Power Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Informational Meeting

On September 19, Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted the PG&E Wildfire Safety Shutoff Program Information Meeting at our office. Attendees learned about how to be prepared for a sudden and potentially prolonged power outage from presenters Joe Horak, PG&E Senior Manager and Colin Smith and Kyler Crawford, George Petersen Insurance. PG&E customers are encouraged to register for shutoff notifications and to monitor PG&E’s website (https://www.pge.com/en_US/safety/emergency-preparedness/natural-disaster/wildfires/psps-weather-map.page) Recently, PG&E made it possible for residents who are not on the PG&E account to receive notifications as well.

 

Regarding insurance coverage, regardless of what type of insurance a farmer may have, because the PSPS is voluntary, most likely any losses would not be covered. Insureds are encouraged to contact their insurance agent to discuss coverage, potential increases in premiums and coverage levels.

 

Support for the Removal of Z Zoning Restriction

Sonoma County Farm Bureau President Jeff Carlton sent a letter to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in September supporting the removal of the Z Zoning restriction, which would limit an ag property owner’s right to build a 1200 sq., ft. ADU on their property. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

 

On behalf of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, we applaud Permit Sonoma and the Board of Supervisors for considering the removal of the Z Zoning Exclusion on ag lands for ADU units. This zoning exclusion has plagued local ag landowners since 1989, and this forward-thinking termination of this restriction further demonstrates your support of farming and your interest in dealing with the housing shortage in our region.

 

Too often we learn from our generational farmers that the next generation has decided to abandon farming because of the high cost of living in Sonoma County. The new generation wants to raise their family in a home similar to how they were raised. By allowing an ADU to be built on ag-designated properties, you are supporting the future of farming in our county and allowing for the continuation of the generational farming model we embrace.

 

Further, having on-site farm labor housing is an added benefit that will attract a scarce labor force to work on our farms and vineyards. The competition for employees is fierce and having family housing available for a potential worker is a significant advantage when compared to other local industries or ag jobs outside of the area.

 

Surprisingly, CAFF and the Greenbelt Alliance sent letters opposing the removal of the Z Zoning overlay designation.  Executive Director Tesconi spoke on behalf of Farm Bureau at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, September 17 during the public comment period. She emphasized the need for ADUs on ag properties to allow for multigenerational farming, workforce housing and supplemental rental income to support crop production. The Board of Supervisors, with a 5-0 vote, voted to remove the restriction and requested that Permit Sonoma provide new data in six months as to how many new permits were issued for ADUs on these affected parcels.  Permit Sonoma will start taking applications for ADUs on these previously constrained parcels beginning October 17.

 

AB 417

We supported this California Farm Bureau Federation bill that passed both houses unanimously. The bill creates a new position at the California Department of Food and Agriculture for a rural economic advisor.

 

AB 1066

SCFB rallied against AB 1066, a bill moving through the legislature that would make striking employees eligible for unemployment insurance. The bill didn’t clear the legislature and became a two-year bill.

 

AB 1783

SCFB joined many other ag interests to voice opposition to AB1783, the “Farmworker Housing Bill of 2019”.  Assemblymember Rivas claims the bill will streamline farmworker housing, something we are supportive of, however, the way this bill was written would further restrict landlord rights, restrict the use of public funding to build housing and required a 3rd party, qualified housing authority to manage it.

 

SB1

Opposed by agriculture, this bill further regulated water in California and would have most likely lead to public agency overreach and additional permitting requirements. Although the bill passed through legislation, it is on Governor Newsom’s desk for signature. From all accounts, he is refusing to sign it and we applaud him for siding with agriculture and other industries on preventing this draconian legislation from becoming law.

 

Animal Rights Activists (DxE): 

Hundreds of activists converged in the SF Bay Area September 28 – October 1 for the Animal Liberation California Convergence. DXE protested at and “locked down” a Whole Foods in the Bay Area. We originally suspected that their mass action as a part of the Animal Liberation California Convergence could take place in Sonoma County but instead focused their efforts in the Bay Area.

As a service for our members, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau will host the event Beyond the Fence Line again this year on October 29 to help farmers learn how to prepare for potential activist activity. Speakers include: Jamie Johansson, CFBF President; Allyson Jones-Brimmer, Animal Agriculture Alliance Director of Industry Relationships; Jim Naugle, Sonoma County Assistant Sheriff; Johnna Miller, American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Media and Advocacy; and Brian Staebell, Sonoma County Chief Deputy District Attorney.

 

City of Santa Rosa, Reclaimed Water Ag User Contracts:

The City of Santa Rosa is in their final phase of deciding water fee schedules and executing water use contracts with approximately 70 ag water users. The partnership between the City of Santa Rosa and some of our farmers dates back almost 40 years with the agriculture industry accepting water from the wastewater treatment plant.

 

At the request of SCFB, the ad-hoc ag water-user committee of the Santa Rosa Board of Public Utilities agreed to extend the proposed water rate schedule by one year, giving our farmers more time to adapt to the new fee rates being charged by the City. This committee’s recommendation will go to the BPU on Thursday, October 3 at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the City Council Chambers, 100 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa.

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board Region 2:

The Region 2 Board is in the public comment phase of a TMDL Action Plan for the Petaluma River. SCFB sent a letter outlining several areas of regulatory overreach with their proposed plan. SCFB will continue monitoring this plan as it moves through the regulatory process.

SCFB Endorses the Following Candidates:

Shirlee Zane: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District Supervisor

Lynda Hopkins: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 5th District Supervisor

Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Your Agricultural Advocate

August 2019

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in August:
2018 Sonoma County Crop Report
The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures presented the 2018 Sonoma County Crop Report on August 20 at the Board of Supervisors Meeting. The 2018 Crop
Report represents a significant landmark in that it is the first time that Sonoma County’s gross agricultural crop value has exceeded $1 billion dollars! This year’s crop report theme features our
local dairy industry.
KSRO Morning Show with Pat Kerrigan
On August 7, 2019, Executive Director Tawny Tesconi joined Pat Kerrigan on the KSRO Morning Show to talk about the recent Cattle Drive, the Sonoma County Fair, and impact the trade war
with China has on agriculture. To listen to the interview visit https://www.ksro.com/2019/08/07/ interview-tawny-tesconi-2/ Animal Rights Activists (DxE)
As the legal implications of their alleged illegal behavior continue through the Sonoma County justice system, the DxE organization appears to be reevaluating their leadership and outreach
strategies.
On August 7, Wayne Hsiung, leader and co-founder of DxE announced that he is stepping down from his leadership position. As the result of multiple raids on farms in North Carolina, Utah, and
California, Hsiung, along with other activists, was arrested and charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors. Hsiung now faces 85 to 100 years in prison for these criminal activities.
Hsiung wrote in a DxE blog post, “As of September 1, 2019, I will be stepping down as Lead Organizer of the founding SF Bay Chapter and all other leadership roles within the DxE network.
Almira Tanner — who has been on our Steering Committee for over 4 years, has led our Direct Action and Development committees, and is uniquely qualified for the job — will be taking on the
role of Lead Organizer.”
DxE will host the Animal Liberation California Convergence on September 28, 2019. According to the Facebook event page, hundreds of activists will “converge in the SF Bay Area for a
groundbreaking mass action for animals.” Farmers and ranchers in the surrounding area should be aware and alert to potential activist activity on your property.
As a service for our members, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau will host the event Beyond the Fence Line again this year on October 29 to help farmers learn how to prepare for potential activist
activity.
City of Santa Rosa, Reclaimed Water Ag User Contracts
In last month’s article, we had indicated that we would report back on the meeting held on July 22nd with the City of Santa Rosa to review the proposed contracts for use of reclaimed water by
local farmers. Unfortunately, one ag water user was able to attend the meeting and it was not held.
North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Region 1
In mid-August, the North Coast Regional Water Board acted on two major regulatory plans that have been in the works for many years:
General Waste Charge Requirements for Dairies:
The Board issued General Waste Discharge Requirements for Dairies (GWDR) in the North Coast Region that covers the management of process water, manure and other organic materials
at dairies. The GWDR replaces 2012 permit coverage for about 120 existing cow dairies and adds provisions for regulation of goat, sheep, and water buffalo dairies.
Working with the Western United Dairymen, UC Cooperative Extension and our local dairymen, SCFB worked with the water board and their staff to eliminate the requirement for farm plans to be submitted annually to the agency and to reduce the requirements being proposed for bacteria testing and runoff monitoring. The board and staff were receptive and was willing to listen to our concerns and through the combined effort of stakeholders, some proposed requirements were reduced or eliminated.
Russian River TMDL Action Plan & Staff Report:
At their August meeting, the North Coast Regional Water Board considered a TMDL Action Plan for the Russian River Watershed. Homeowners, the North Bay Association of Realtors,
Supervisor Hopkins and Executive Director Tesconi all provided public comment suggesting the proposed regulations for OWTS inspections were onerous and overreach. The Board
listened to the concerns, provided feedback and did offer to include language that allows the local jurisdiction (the County of Sonoma) to determine the requirements for the inspectors.
Regardless, it is estimated that there are approximately 7,000 parcels within the designated plan area. Any septic systems on those parcels will need to be inspected every 5 years – which we
estimate will cost landowners about $1,200.
Also, the plan calls for all parcel owners identified who have farm animals to start best management practices (BMPs) within 2 years of the plan being adopted. Tesconi testified that most of these landowners are hobby farmers who have a few head of animals. These property owners are unaware of water quality requirements and it will be difficult to determine who has farm animals and to communicate BMPs to them. Although the Board seemed to agree with our comments on this issue, there were no changes made to the Action Plan requirements related to this regulation.
On both these issues, SCFB will continue to work with stakeholders and the agency to work toward clearer and obtainable guidelines and processes.
Big picture…Is this overreach? Should the plan have been phased in where the most significant areas of water quality should be addressed first? They ensured that there will be “off-ramping”
if certain levels of water quality are achieved but will this be captured in the Action Plan or supporting documents? And, does the agency have the staffing or the resources needed to track
compliance on over 7,000 parcels?
San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board Region 2
The Region 2 Board is in the public comment phase of a TMDL Action Plan for the Petaluma River. SCFB is preparing a letter in response to the onerous requirements being proposed in this
TMDL. We are finding that few landowners have been notified about this TMDL which will regulate hundreds of parcels. If you have a parcel that is within 600 feet of the Petaluma River, you should review the information and send a comment letter. Letters are due by September 3rd at 5:00 p.m. https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/sanfranciscobay/water_issues/programs/TMDLs/petalumabacterianutrients/petaluma_tmdl_publicnotice.pdf
SCFB Endorses the Following Candidates
Shirlee Zane: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District Supervisor
Lynda Hopkins: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 5th District Supervisor
Ag Resources
Healdsburg Museum Exhibit Features the Wine
Roots of Healdsburg
May 23, 2019 To November 10, 2019
This exhibition focuses on local wine agriculture before Prohibition, providing timelines of regional wine history, ethnic contributions, labor history, context of other crops and local resistance to Prohibition. The Healdsburg Museum is open FREE to the public. Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., 221 Matheson Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448.
For more information please visit https://www.healdsburgmuseum.org/
2019 CFBF Photo Contest
Deadline to Enter: September 30, 2019
Amateur photographers can compete for their share of $2,500 in cash prizes in the 38th annual California Farm Bureau Photo Contest, which opened on June 1.
This year’s theme, “Imagine California,” challenges participants to capture images that celebrate the diversity of the state’s agricultural bounty. Entries will be eligible for one of 12 cash prizes, ranging from $50 up to the $1,000 Grand Prize. The contest is open to members of county Farm Bureaus in California and supporters of the California Bountiful Foundation. For more information or additional forms, contact the CFBF Marketing/Communications Division at 916-561-5550 or at photocontest@cfbf.com.
New Online Tool for Landowners
CFBF created an online tool to help landowners learn about the potential layers of regulation on a particular parcel of land. It’s easy to use!
1. Go to wotus.cfbf.com
2. Enter your Farm Bureau Member ID number and password (watersoftheUS2015)
3. Enter the parcel address on an interactive map to help determine whether the 2015 WOTUS rule might apply to that piece of land. This website is available to Farm Bureau members in California only. Can’t remember your Farm Bureau Member ID? Call the Sonoma County Farm Bureau M-F 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at (707) 544-5575 for help.
Do You Use Heavy Equipment?
Stay safe and fine free: Cal/OSHA’s Pocket Guide for the Construction Industry, which includes specific sections on forklifts and other heavy equipment safety: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ConstGuideOnline.pdf and Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch, which provides free and voluntary assistance to employers to improve their safety and health programs: https://www.dir.ca.gov/ dosh/consultation.html
Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Your Agricultural Advocate

July 2019

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in July:

Animal Rights Activists Protest:
And so, the saga continues…. As reported in last month’s advocacy article, protestors with Direction Action Everywhere (DXE) trespassed on to the Reichardt Duck Farm in Petaluma in
early June stealing ducklings, destroying personal property and creating civil unrest to the level that caused almost 100 of the protestors to be arrested. The good news is that none of the criminals
arrested were Sonoma County residents. The bad news is that this radical organization continues to disrupt Sonoma County agriculture.
On Monday, June 24, three DXE members sat in their car outside of the Farm Bureau office streaming their opinions on Facebook regarding the Executive Director’s comments made during
an interview with KSRO’s Pat Kerrigan during her June 5 morning show. In addition to streaming on Facebook, the three DXE members stated that they were going to “confront” Executive Director Tesconi, but she was out of the office. By early evening they had left the Farm Bureau office and their Facebook post was pulled down, making it unavailable to subscribers.
Further, on Thursday, July 4, Sonoma County Farm Bureau, in partnership with Western United Dairymen and other local ag supporters, ran a half-page advertisement in the Press Democrat
expressing thanks to local law enforcement for protecting Sonoma County farmers, their property, animals, and the right to farm.
As a service for our members, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau will again host the Beyond the Fence Line event this year on October 29. This program will help farmers prepare for potential
activist activity.
City of Santa Rosa, Reclaimed Water Ag User Contracts:
The City of Santa Rosa is working diligently on recalimed water ag user contracts and is willingly taking stakeholder input on the development of standard user agreements for the reclaimed
(recycled) water that they provide to local farmers for grazing, crop production and vineyard frost protection. Working with a small subgroup of water users, the final draft of the agreement
was discussed with all ag water users on Monday, July 22 at the Farm Bureau Office. SCFB was instrumental in getting the City of Santa Rosa representatives to offer this stakeholder meeting. A
synopsis of the meeting will be included in next month’s advocacy report.
Hemp Moratorium:
Executive Director Tesconi attended the first meeting of the Hemp Advisory Group (HAG) held by Ag Commissioner Tony Linegar. The discussion covered an overview of the challenges
associated with growing hemp and cannabis in proximity of each other. In addition, the lack of staff resources was discussed, and an additional staff person is being added to meet the demand of
hemp cultivation in the county.
General Waste Discharge Requirements for Dairies in the North Coast Region:
SCFB continues to monitor the waste charge permitting process being imposed on Region 1 and Region 2 dairies. We will have representation at the North Coast Regional Water Board’s meeting
on August 14 or 15 when the final draft of the permit requirements will be discussed and most likely adopted.
Russian River TMDL Action Plan & Staff Report:
As previously reported, Executive Director Tesconi submitted comments at the end of June in response to the TMDL Action Plan. The SCFB and several business organizations are aligned
in their concerns with the number of parcels that will be subject to the monitoring and reporting requirements suggested in the draft TMDL Action Plan. SCFB will attend the North Coast Regional
Water Board’s meeting in mid-August where the initial staff report will be given regarding the Action Plan.
We plan to have a stakeholder’s meeting with representatives from the NCRWB in attendance at our office sometime in the early fall to discuss the Russian River TMDL Action Plan.
Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Organic Material Handling – Compost Operations Regulations:
The BAAQMD just released a draft of their ordinance governing small compost operations and onsite compost activities. The regulations suggest total overreach of government with most small
composters indicating the proposed regulations will put them out of business. Executive Director Tesconi submitted comments regarding the onerous tone of the proposed regulations and President Carlton signed a multi-agency coalition letter that offered a redline version of the regulations.
The North Coast Compost Coalition shows unity between a number of organizations that do not always align on issues like the regulations being proposed. SCFB joined with: Sonoma County
Waste Management Agency, UC Cooperative Extension Marin, Daily Acts Marin County Public Works, UC Cooperative Extension Sonoma, Community Alliance of Family Famers, The Farmers
Guild, Grab n Grow, Soiland Company, Inc, Bolinas Community Public Utility District, Poncia Fertilizer, Inc., Straus Family Creamery, West Marin Compost, Sonoma Compost Co., LLC
Renewable Sonoma, LLC, and The Carbon Cycle Institute to develop more acceptable policies and regulations for local composting efforts.
An excerpt from the SCFB letter:
“The North Coast Water Quality Control Board mandates composting by agricultural producers in the dairy industry while Rule 13-2 makes it near impossible, either in costs or requirements,
for producers to meet these proposed changes. Farmers are striving to reduce methane and VOCs through composting and will not be able to afford to compost if Rule 13-2 is left as is. Why can’t
Rule 13-2 use the industry standards already working for composting efforts defined by CalRecycle? Further, northern California farmers are actively participating in the Healthy Soils Initiative
grants. Should our local composting facilities not be able to remain in business or reduce the amount of compost materials produced, the opportunity for grantees to get soil-enhancement
materials at a cost point that is realistic will be compromised. CalRecycle has set out thoroughly encompassing definitions and requirements on the subject, which Rule 13-2’s language and
ideology vary widely from.
The discrepancies between long standing, effective regulations and BMPs established by other governmental agencies or programs and those proposed in Rule 13-2 are significant and will
overburden the composting industry that is already working on shoestring margins. The composting industry is vital to our farmers, landscapers and many other small business owners in northern California.”
AB 1783 (Rivas) Opposition Letter, Farm Labor Affordable Housing Bill:
In conjunction with California Farm Bureau Federation and other Farm Bureau counties, SCFB President Carlton submitted a letter to Senator Wiener expressing our opposition to AB 1783, a bill
that was touted as an affordable housing bill for farm labor. In addition to mixing tenant housing rights with employee housing rights, the bill also too strictly defined what type of housing could benefit from the proposed permitting and planning exemptions and would further discourage construction of workforce housing because of the strings attached to using public funding for projects.
President Carlton’s entire letter can be at https://sonomafb.org/current-issues/letter-signed-bypresident- jeff-carlton/
Potter Valley Project:
President Carlton submitted a letter of support for the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, et. Al. partnership to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, of the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC). The letter strongly expressed our approval of the regional entity formed by the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission (Mendocino County
IWPC), Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water), California Trout, Inc. (CalTrout), and the County of Humboldt, California (together, NOI Parties) and their filing of a Notice of Intent
to file an application for new license for the Potter Valley Project, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) Project No. 77 on June 28, 2019.
SCFB Endorses the Following Candidates:
Shirlee Zane: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District Supervisor
Lynda Hopkins: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 5th District Supervisor

 

Agricultural Resources

August 2019

Healdsburg Museum Exhibit Features the Wine
Roots of Healdsburg
May 23, 2019 To November 10, 2019
This exhibition focuses on local wine agriculture before Prohibition, providing timelines of regional wine history, ethnic contributions, labor history, context of other crops and local resistance to Prohibition. The Healdsburg Museum is open FREE to the public. Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., 221 Matheson Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448. For more information please visit https://www.healdsburgmuseum.org/
SRJC Shone Farm is Hiring
Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm is hiring a new Farm Manager to fill a retirement vacancy. They are seeking a dedicated individual, passionate about agricultural education, to manage one of the premier community college farms in the nation.
Location: Forestville, CA Department: Agriculture & Natural Resources
Salary: $7,798 – $9,479 per month Job Type: Full-Time
Closing: 8/14/19
Questions may be addressed to Dean Benjamin Goldstein (bgoldstein@santarosa.edu) with a CC to rsmith@santarosa.edu.
2019 CFBF Photo Contest
Deadline to Enter: September 30, 2019
Amateur photographers can compete for their share of $2,500 in cash prizes in the 38th annual California Farm Bureau Photo Contest, which opened on June 1. This year’s theme, “Imagine California,” challenges participants to capture images that celebrate the diversity of the state’s agricultural bounty. Entries will be eligible for one of 12 cash prizes, ranging from $50 up to the $1,000 Grand Prize. The contest is open to members of county Farm Bureaus in California and supporters of the California Bountiful Foundation.
For more information or additional forms, contact the CFBF Marketing/Communications Division at 916-561-5550 or at photocontest@cfbf.com.
New Online Tool for Landowners
CFBF created an online tool to help landowners learn about the potential layers of regulation on a particular parcel of land. It’s easy to use!
1. Go to wotus.cfbf.com
2. Enter your Farm Bureau Member ID number and password (watersoftheUS2015)
3. Enter the parcel address on an interactive map to help determine whether the 2015
WOTUS rule might apply to that piece of land.
This website is available to Farm Bureau members in California only. Can’t remember your Farm Bureau Member ID? Call the Sonoma County Farm Bureau M-F 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at
(707) 544-5575 for help.
Do You Use Heavy Equipment?
Stay safe and fine free: Cal/OSHA’s Pocket Guide for the Construction Industry, which includes specific sections on forklifts and other heavy equipment safety:
https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ConstGuideOnline.pdf and Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch, which provides free and voluntary assistance to employers to improve their safety and health programs: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/consultation.html
CA Agricultural Mediation Program (CALAMP)
Free Help for Farmers and Ranchers Dealing with Credit, Debt or Other Issues. The California Agricultural Mediation Program (www.calamp.org) is here to help. CALAMP provides FREE mediation for farm credit issues; farm loans; federal farm and conservation programs; wetlands determinations; grazing permits on national forest system lands; and rural housing loans.
Requesting mediation is easy! Go to www.calamp.org and click on “request mediation,” or CALL (916) 330-4500 and dial ext. 101, or EMAIL: matts@emcenter.org, maryc@emcenter.org, or juliag@emcenter.org
Sonoma County Farm Bureau:

Your Agricultural Advocate

June 2019

Sonoma County Farm Bureau is hard at work to support our member’s interests in Sonoma County and beyond. Here’s what we did for you in June:

Animal Rights Activists Protest:

On Monday, June 4, hundreds of activists from the animal rights activist group Direct Action Everywhere’s (DXE) Animal Liberation Conference were bussed to Reichardt Duck Farm in Petaluma, CA. According to the activists, they stole 30 ducklings and attempted to “shut down” the facility by having individuals chain themselves to gates and block the main entrance. After several hours and calls for activists to disperse, law enforcement officers began making arrests. Nearly 100 protesters were arrested, including DXE leader Wayne Hsiung. The incident was broadcast live on Direct Action Everywhere’s Facebook page. After a DXE spokesperson went on the KSRO Morning News Show, on Wednesday, June 5, Executive Director Tawny Tesconi did the same and spoke with host Pat Kerrigan to advocate for Sonoma County farmers and ranchers. Visit the Sonoma County Farm Burea’s Facebook page to watch the full video to hear Tawny speak in support of agriculture in Sonoma County. We appreciate KSRO for presenting both sides of the argument.

On Monday, June 24th, three DxE members sat outside of the Farm Bureau office in their car streaming on Facebook attempting to discredit Tawny’s answers to Pat Kerrigan’s questions during the radio interview. They attempted to “confront” Tawny in the Farm Bureau office but she was out of the office.

The Sonoma County Farm Bureau will host the event Beyond the Fence Line again this year on October 29 to help members learn how to prepare for potential activist activity. We appreciate local law enforcement for supporting Sonoma County farmers, their property, animals, and the right to farm.

Groundwater Sustainability Agencies: Executive Director Tawny Tesconi has been meeting individually with county supervisors and the GSA staff to correct irrigation use data being used to access fees and to encourage the County’s financial support for this basin similar to the level of support provided in the other two GSAs in our county. On Thursday, June 13, the Board of Directors of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency approved a groundwater sustainability fee and adopted a groundwater user registration ordinance. The groundwater sustainability fee of $19.90 per acre-foot of groundwater pumped annually will go into effect on July 13, 2019. While the fee is calculated on actual or estimated groundwater use of everyone in the Santa Rosa Plain subbasin (an area extending from Santa Rosa west to Sebastopol and from Windsor south to Cotati), the fee will be assessed only on major municipal groundwater pumpers: the cities of Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sebastopol; the Town of Windsor; and Sonoma Water. Fees paid by municipal water providers will total $101,885 annually.

A three-year financial contribution of up to $240,000 annually to the GSA by the County of Sonoma and Sonoma Water will offset the fees of residential, agricultural, schools and other groundwater users in the unincorporated areas of the Santa Rosa Plain basin. In May, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water Board) and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors (County Board) approved a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain (an area extending from Santa Rosa west to Sebastopol, north to Windsor and south to Cotati). Under the plan, the County and Sonoma Water would contribute a total of up to $240,000 annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). Farm Bureau was effective in working to get the County to cover the fees required of our members and all rural land owners. We will continue to closely monitor GSA updates and weighin on any policies or procedures that will affect our members.

Onsite Waste Treatment Systems

The County of Sonoma is updating County regulations for septic systems (OWTS Manual) in order to meet the state-mandated policy that protects water quality and public health. Sonoma County Farm Bureau representatives have met with Permit Sonoma staff outlining various concerns we have with the new manual. On June 4, the draft manual came before the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for approval. ED Tesconi had emailed the board indicating that they revised policies still did not accurately reflect the changes suggested by Farm Bureau that had been accepted by the Board. The Supervisors pulled the item from the agenda to have it corrected and it passed on consent at their June 11th meeting. Once again the Board of Supervisors have shown their support of rural landowners, particularly our farmers.

Potter Valley Project:

On June 5, Janet Pauli spoke about the Potter Valley Project at the Sonoma County Alliance General Membership Meeting at the Santa Rosa Golf & Country Club. The Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission (MCIWPC) submitted their pre-application document and a notice of intent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 28, to enter the relicensing process. MCIWPC has been working with other entities, like SCFB to build a broad-based coalition to establish regional control of the Potter Valley Project.  The Sonoma County Farm Bureau continues to work with the Mendocino Farm Bureau as the Potter Valley Project re-licensing process unfolds.

Hemp Moratorium:

Executive Director Tesconi attended the first meeting the Hemp Advisory Group (HAG) held by Ag Commissioner Tony Linegar. The discussion covered an overview of the challenges associated with growing hemp and cannabis proximity of each other. In addition, the lack of staff resources was discussed and an additional staff person is being added to meet the demand of hemp cultivation in the county.

General Waste Discharge Requirements for Dairies in the North Coast Region

On Friday, May 31st, Director Beretta and ED Tesconi attended a public meeting held by the North Coast Regional Water Board to discuss General Waste Discharge Requirements for Dairies in the region. The new requirements are proposing that dairies do bacterial sampling in addition to the water monitoring currently done under the existing plan. This not only adds significant financial burden to the dairies, but logisitically would be challenging while offering very little return. We also opposed the requirement to submit Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP) as part of pemit compliance. These plans continually are updated and are just as their name applies – plans, not necessarily actual information. Other worksheets were discussed that would more appropriately provide the information tht the Board is looking for in response to a request from enviromenttal groups. The Board will hold a public hearing to adopt the order on August 14 or 15.

Russian River TMDL Action Plan & Staff Report:

Executive Director Tesconi submitted comments at the end of June in response to the TMDL Action Plan. She called out that much of their concern associated with dairy runoff into the Russian River was base on a hypothesis not in science and that dairies were not being treated fairly in the plan. In addition, she questioned the 600 foot standard measurement that was being used to determine APMP boundaries.  This expansive boundary will require septic system testing every 5 years on thousands of rural properties.  It is anticipated that the Board will hold a public hearing about this new plan in August.

Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Organic Material Handling – Compost Operations Regulations:

The BAAQMD just released a draft of their ordinance governing small compost operations and onsite compost activities. The regulations suggest total overreach of government with most small composters indicating the proposed regulations will be put them out of business.  Public comments will be accepted to July 8th and the SCFB will be working with other stakeholders to find common ground in the regulations. Stay tuned.

SCFB Endorses the Following Candidates:

Shirlee Zane: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District Supervisor

Lynda Hopkins: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, 5th District Supervisor

 

Agricultural Resources

July 2019

2019 CFBF Photo Contest

Deadline to Enter: September 30, 2019

Amateur photographers can compete for their share of $2,500 in cash prizes in the 38th annual California Farm Bureau Photo Contest, which opened on June 1.

This year’s theme, “Imagine California,” challenges participants to capture images that celebrate the diversity of the state’s agricultural bounty. Entries will be eligible for one of 12 cash prizes, ranging from $50 up to the $1,000 Grand Prize. The contest is open to members of county Farm Bureaus in California and supporters of the California Bountiful Foundation. For more information or additional forms, contact the CFBF Marketing/Communications Division at 916-561-5550 or atphotocontest@cfbf.com.

New Online Tool for Landowners

CFBF created an online tool to help landowners learn about the potential layers of regulation on a particular parcel of land. It’s easy to use!

  1. Go to wotus.cfbf.com
  2. Enter your Farm Bureau Member ID number and password (watersoftheUS2015)
  3. Enter the parcel address on an interactive map to help determine whether the 2015 WOTUS rule might apply to that piece of land.

This website is available to Farm Bureau members in California only. Can’t remember your Farm Bureau Member ID? Call the Sonoma County Farm Bureau M-F 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at (707) 544-5575 for help.

Do You Use Heavy Equipment? 

Stay safe and fine free:  Cal/OSHA’s Pocket Guide for the Construction Industry, which includes specific sections on forklifts and other heavy equipment safety:

https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ConstGuideOnline.pdf

and Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Services Branch, which provides free and voluntary assistance to employers to improve their safety and health programs: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/consultation.html

CA Agricultural Mediation Program (CALAMP)

Free Help for Farmers and Ranchers Dealing with Credit, Debt or Other Issues

The California Agricultural Mediation Program (www.calamp.org) is here to help. CALAMP provides FREE mediation for farm credit issues; farm loans; federal farm and conservation programs; wetlands determinations; grazing permits on national forest system lands; and rural housing loans.

Mediation is a voluntary process where an impartial person, called a mediator, brings parties together to resolve a challenge and identify a path forward. Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and the outcome remains fully in the parties’ control. While the mediator can help parties identify options, the mediator does not tell the participants what to do or issue a “ruling.” The final decision always belongs to the participants. Approximately 75% of mediations end in a mutually agreed-upon settlement.

Requesting mediation is easy!

Go to www.calamp.org and click on “request mediation,”

or CALL (916) 330-4500 and dial ext. 101,

or EMAIL: matts@emcenter.org, maryc@emcenter.org, or juliag@emcenter.org

GOOD READS

The Southern Sonoma Storm-Water Resource Plan (SWRP)

The Southern Sonoma Storm-Water Resource Plan (SWRP) draft is available for public review. The Plan identifies and prioritizes projects that capture, treat, or reuse storm-water runoff. It applies to the Petaluma and Sonoma Creek watersheds. Information on the planning process and plan can be found here:  www.scwa.ca.gov/swrp

Sonoma RCD: California Native Plant Society Fire Recovery Guide

What should you do with your land after a wildfire? The CNPS Fire Recovery Guide addresses that question in an easy-to-use booklet, a collaborative effort between CNPS, North Bay partner organizations, and some of the best fire experts in the state.

DOWNLOAD AT: https://www.cnps.org/give/priority-initiatives/fire-recovery

Sonoma RCD: Slow It, Spread It, Sink It, Store It

Guide to Beneficial Stormwater Management and Water Conservation Strategies is now available in Spanish and English.

DOWNLOAD AT: http://sonomarcd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Slow-it-Spread-it-Sink-it-Store-it.pdf

 

Premium Members

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