Agricultural Advocacy & Resources

Written By: Brytann Busick
Published: December 28, 2018
 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

 

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