December 11, 2020
Newsletter for December 11, 2020
This Issue:
  • Preview Of Proposed Water Bill On Water Banking
  • Membership For Nevada Legislative Money Committees
  • New Chair and Vice Chair For Board of Agriculture
  • AFBF 2021 Annual Meeting Details
  • AFBF Support For Return Of Former Secretary of Agriculture
  • Legislation Moving To Completion On Navy & Air Force Training Areas
Review of Nevada 2021 Legislative Proposals Underway
The opening day of the 2021 Nevada Legislative session is February 1, 2021, but we are beginning the process of sorting through the legislative proposals that we have available for review and from the understanding of what is contained in the bills. The work that is underway is working to compared Nevada Farm Bureau policy for where things stand. 

At the end of last week, the acting Nevada State Engineer, Adam Sullivan, distributed a couple of important legislative bills, which at this point have not been pre-filed (introduced into the legislative process). For the past several months Nevada Farm Bureau has been discussing the concepts of these bills with the Division of Water Resources, but Friday’s document sharing was the first look at the actual language being contemplated.

This week we will cover one of the bill drafts, pertaining to establishing a Water Banking System. Click here to take a look at the bill draft that was made available for review. Along with the bill draft, Nevada Farm Bureau has evaluated the language for the proposal in comparison with Nevada Farm Bureau policy. The bill draft and the evaluation have been sent to members of the working group of Farm Bureau members who have been involved in discussing water issues and were instrumental in shaping the policy language that was adopted by the Nevada Farm Bureau voting delegates.

Along with the feedback that we anticipate from the Farm Bureau water committee, we would welcome your assessment of the bill proposal for a Nevada Water Banking System and also the evaluation that we’ve prepared, based on Nevada Farm Bureau policy.

Nevada Farm Bureau’s policy on a water bank concept states:

Nevada Water Banking Program:                                                 311

Nevada Farm Bureau supports a water banking system as long as it does not diminish the water right owner’s water right or is used as a tool to diminish the water right owner’s water right or the water right of another.

As Nevada considers the authorization and establishment of a water bank system for agricultural water rights, we maintain that these critical principles be covered:
  • Prior to any formal adoption of a Nevada water bank system, local, public, in-person meetings need to be held in every local area to discuss the framework of how this proposed system would be operated, including the specific purpose for how this banking system will address area water needs. These meetings need to be provided as opportunities by water right owners to learn the possible benefits that the banking system will offer and provide water right owners to give input to the Nevada Division of Water Resources. Based on this input from water right owners throughout Nevada, the Nevada Division of Water Resources will be able to adequately present a fully-vetted proposal to the Nevada Legislature as a bill draft.
  • Proposed legislative bills need to specifically identify where and under what conditions a water bank can be authorized and operate. The authorization of a water bank should also be provided first as a pilot project for a specific area and be subject to a continuation after a defined timeframe, possibly 10 years.
  • All water rights enrolled in a water bank system must be maintained by the water right owner, who voluntarily participates under clearly defined terms that include the regular return of enrolled water to the agricultural property which has been temporarily idled.
  • Water rights involved in a water bank system need to be verified as not causing any negative impact to any other water right owner and the water associated with the water bank will be subject to eligibility for a temporary transfer of use based on not negatively affecting other water right owners.
  • No local water bank may operate with water rights that are being conjunctively managed. Surface water rights enrolled with a water bank that is operating a surface water right bank may only lease water to another surface water right user. Groundwater rights enrolled with a water bank that is operating a groundwater right bank may only lease water to another groundwater right user. The different sources of water must remain separated and not mixed.
  • Local water right banks must remain local in nature and cannot be used as a tool to facilitate transfer of water outside of a basin or adjudicated river system.
Those Who Will Serve In 2021 Nevada Legislative Committees
Last week’s newsletter included the members who will be serving on the Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining committee. Another key committee which will have a major role to play in the legislative process for the 81st Session will be the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. 

This committee is the group, working with their counterparts in the Senate Finance Committee to work through the proposed budget and determine the authorized spending budgets for the coming biennium. 

Members on this committee include: Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, chairman; Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, Vice Chair; Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson; Assembly Speaker - Jason Frierson; Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelo; Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui; Assemblywoman Brittney Miller; Assemblywoman Sarah Peters; Assemblyman Howard Watts, Assemblyman Greg Hafen; Assemblyman Glen Leavitt; Assemblyman Tom Roberts; Assemblywoman Robin Titus; and, Assemblywoman Jill Tolles.

On the Senate side, the Finance Committee members are: Senator Chris Books, chair; Senator Moises Denis, vice chair; Senator Nicole Cannizzaro; Senator Julia Ratti; Senator Marilyn Dondero Loop; Senator Ben Kieckhefer; Senator Pete Goicoechea; Senator Scott Hammond; and, Senator Heidi Seevers Gansert.
Board of Agriculture Elect New Chair and Vice Chair

Douglas County’s Woody Worthington, representing general agriculture on the Nevada Board of Agriculture was elected to serve as the Board’s chairman for the coming year. 

Lincoln County’s Varlin Higbee, representing semi-range cattle was elected to serve as the Board’s vice chair. These elections were held during the December 9th virtual Board of Agriculture meeting. The past chair Paul Anderson of Sparks, NV who represented the petroleum industry was termed out (serving 12 years) and the December 9th meeting was his last meeting as a member of the Board. Dr. Boyd Spratling of Elko is also retiring from the Board of Ag. having served as the vice chair of the Board and representing semi-range cattle.

Worthington has also served for a number of years as President of Douglas/Carson City Farm Bureau.
Nevada Farm Bureau is looking forward to working with the new leadership team and the Board of Agriculture in enhancing the role of leadership that the Board needs to step up to take in providing direction to the Department of Agriculture and representing Nevada agricultural producers.
American Farm Bureau Federation Virtual Annual Meeting Provides All Members With Ability To Attend
As we reported in last week’s newsletter, the American Farm Bureau Federation 2021 annual meeting will be virtual and open to all members who wish to register and connect up on the Internet. 

The AFB Virtual Convention will be held Jan. 10-13, 2021, and for the first time ever, registration fees are being waived to give all Farm Bureau members and anyone interested in agriculture the opportunity to experience one of agriculture’s premier events from the comfort and safety of home. 

“We are excited to open up the doors of this event and to bring home the high-quality content our attendees have come to expect from our events,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Our featured speakers this year are no strangers to Farm Bureau. We are honored to have Mike Rowe, Rorke Denver and Beth Ford join us as we reflect on this unique year and press on, stronger together, for agriculture and our rural communities.” 

Best known for his hit TV series Dirty Jobs and most recently his show Returning the Favor featuring people making a difference in their communities, Mike Rowe will join the AFB Virtual Convention as our special guest for a fireside chat in the closing general session. As the country’s leading advocate for skilled labor and the CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Rowe seeks to debunk myths and misperceptions about blue-collar jobs. His foundation has granted millions of dollars in scholarships to help close the skills gap. 

Land O’ Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford will join AFBF President Zippy Duvall to discuss hot topics and issues facing agriculture today. A native of Sioux City, Iowa, Ford is a passionate advocate for farmers and rural America and is committed to connecting consumers to the farmers and rural communities who grow their food. Ford was recently recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and Most Powerful Women. Under her leadership, Land O’Lakes, Inc. will soon join AFBF in the century club in 2021, when it celebrates 100 years as a farmer-owned cooperative. 

Workshop topics range from the future of the livestock industry to financial planning for disasters and from standing up for agriculture with effective advocacy to sustainability in 2021 and what it will mean for farmers and ranchers. 

The schedule of the events is located at this link.

Registration is required for everyone attending and members can use this link to take care of getting registered…Individuals should use the top box at the top of the registration site. It is titled: “Virtual Annual Convention Registration – For Use by Farm Bureau members and nonmembers”  
Farm Bureau Expresses Support For The Return Of Tom Vilsack To Head USDA
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Tom Vilsack to serve as Secretary of Agriculture in his administration.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation welcomes the news that Tom Vilsack will be nominated to be Secretary of Agriculture.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in response to the word that the former Secretary was heading back to the office he held during the Obama Administration. 

“His leadership as the 30th Secretary of Agriculture and as Governor of a state reliant on agriculture is evidence of his qualification to serve in this role.”

“Tom Vilsack understands that the agriculture sector is far more complex than most people understand.” Duvall continued, adding “He believes in a ‘big tent’ philosophy that supports all types of production and understands the importance of respecting farmers and ranchers as partners worthy of support in the race to achieve sustainability goals.”

“Tom and I built a good relationship during his first term as Ag Secretary and we’ve built on that relationship in his current role with the U.S. Dairy Export Council. I look forward to sitting down with him again to continue our conversation on how to address the opportunities and challenges facing agriculture and rural communities. The pandemic revealed both the strengths and weaknesses of our food system, which Tom has had a front row seat to witness.”

“Together, we must prepare to tackle a new farm bill and build on efforts to create a fair marketplace for U.S. agriculture to compete globally. It is essential we ensure climate policies respect farmers and remain market-based and voluntary. And, we must end the digital divide that puts rural America at a disadvantage.”

“Tom Vilsack earned a reputation for rising above partisanship to serve farmers and ranchers and I’m confident he’ll continue to do so. The American Farm Bureau stands ready to support Tom and work closely with him knowing his success as Ag Secretary correlates directly with America’s farmers and ranchers, as well as our rural communities, having the support they need to flourish.”
Expectation Is For Navy and Air Training Ranges To Remain Status Quo
It isn’t a total final deal, waiting for the U.S. Senate to conduct their vote on the bill, but based on a video conference meeting that Nevada Farm Bureau and other stakeholders in Nevada had with U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto it appears that the final version of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization is going to be a 25-year status quo extension for both the Nevada Test and Training Range (Airforce) and the Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon.

Along with the Status Quo continuation of the existing training footprint, Senator Cortez Masto has been working to include language in the legislation to create Intergovernmental Executive Committees at both facilities to serve as a public forum to provide for collaborative exchanges with stakeholders and the respective branches of the armed services.

Nevada Farm Bureau has been involved during the process leading to this point primarily on the basis on seeking protection for livestock grazing operations that were going to have their grazing allotments taken away by the expansion of the Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon training expansion. Although not specifically opposing the expansion, Farm Bureau’s policy supported full compensation to those impacted through the loss of the grazing allotment and whatever private range improvements that are included on these federally managed lands.
Thanks For Staying In Touch! Have a great weekend!