San Luis Obispo County Agriculture News
April 16, 2021
"Frost season 2021 is off to a beautiful start! As we have bud break and shoots emerging we need to protect the vines from frost events. On cold spring mornings, our team responds to 'frost alarms”'and heads into the field to turn on sprinklers and fans to protect young shoots." Photo by Ivan Gonzales, Vineyard Manager at Vineyard Professional Services.
What Have They Done? Central Coast Regional Water Board Creates Unprecedented New Regulatory Burdens for Farmers With Adoption of Ag Order 4.0
Thursday marked a dark and disheartening new era for San Luis Obispo County farmers and the entire Central Coast agriculture community. Late in the evening on April 15, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board approved the final version of Ag Order 4.0, the General Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands. 
“The scope and complexity of this Ag Order’s regulatory and reporting requirements defies belief,” SLO County Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett remarked. “For the first time, our farmers now face numeric limits on how much fertilizer they can apply to crops.”  
What’s specifically wrong with the Ag Order?  
As summarized by attorney Tess Dunham during testimony before the Board, Ag Order 4.0 falls short in that it: 
  • Limits Third-Party Program participation by imposing ridged eligibility requirements; 
  • Imposes numeric limits and targets that are an 
  • Abuse of discretion to regulate applications of fertilizer, and an 
  • Abuse of discretion to use A-R (applied minus removed) equation as a limit; 
  • Restricts credits on certain practices – which limits innovation, technology and creativity; 
  • Imposes timelines for which the ability to comply is unknown; and 
  • Creates a highly complex program that will be difficult to interpret and implement. 
“We all want clean water, we live here too,” Burchett said. “But when we look back a decade from now and wonder why there are no family farms left, this will undoubtedly be a primary reason. I encourage everyone to read through the hundreds and hundreds of pages in the Ag Order, and explain to me how a farmer can implement this thing.” 
Farms of all sizes will now be subject to extraordinary new monitoring and reporting requirements to the Water Board. The confusing, tortuous language will force farmers to hire third-party experts just to understand what is being required of them. 
Farmer input dismissed 
“While we appreciate that some changes were made in response to our concerns, the Board failed to consider the very real economic harm this new regulation has on growers, and our entire regional economy,” Burchett explained. “Ag Order 4.0 is an absolute disaster for vegetable farms and will be a real challenge for vineyards.”  
San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau was proud to contribute funds toward a strong response by a coalition of farmer advocacy groups, known as the Ag Partners. Comments made by the Ag Partners on April 15 to the Water Board begin around the 10:23 mark and can be watched here.  To watch the full Ag Order final adoption proceedings, which spanned a grueling 21 hours over April 14 and 15, click here.   
“For the past three years, the ag industry put forward numerous alternative regulatory pathways that could have protected water quality without putting farmers out of business,” Burchett said, “and those alternatives were largely ignored.”  
In a press release today, the Regional Water Board justified its regulation, contending agricultural fertilizers "cause well documented severe and widespread impacts to surface and groundwater quality, and impairment of drinking water, surface water and riparian habitat beneficial uses.” 
Regional Water Board Chair (and SLO County Farm Bureau member) Jean-Pierre Wolff said, “The Board devoted an unprecedented amount of time to considering input from a broad range of stakeholders over the last several years and unanimously adopted an order that balances various competing interests while establishing clear objectives and requirements by which to evaluate measurable progress.” Wolff added that the “Board intends to approach Ag Order 4.0 implementation from an adaptive management perspective, using annual updates during public meetings to inform potential order modifications as may be required to improve implementation effectiveness.” 
What happens next? 
SLO County Farm Bureau will continue to evaluate Ag Order 4.0's full impact to growers in coming weeks. Actions by the Regional Water Board can be appealed to the State Water Board, then to the Superior Court.  
If recent history is an indication of what’s to come, environmental justice groups will likely petition the State Water Board and argue Ag Order 4.0 does not go far enough to protect water quality. Agriculture groups can also petition the State Water Board. The deadline to file a petition is May 17, 2021. 
“We encourage all of our SLO County farmers to review this Order and how it will impact their farms,” Burchett said. “We are greatly disturbed by the Board’s action, and want to hear from our growers on how we should move forward.”
This Week in SLO County Agriculture
In This Issue:
  • COVID-19 News: SLO County Public Health Releases Guidance for Agriculture Workers Who Received J&J Vaccine
  • Community News: SLO Chamber of Commerce Announces Government 101 Training Series
  • County Government News: Supervisors Meet April 20
  • State Government News: Farm Bureau's Friday Review
  • Business Member Spotlight: Madonna Inn
  • Wildfire News: Action by Insurance Commissioner will Define Scope of Farmers' Coverage Gaps
  • Vineyard & Winery News: Popular Science - A Guide to Sustainable, Natural and Organic Wine
  • Livestock News: Deseret News - The War on Beef in the West
  • Produce News: AgNet West - FDA: Recent E.coli Outbreaks a 'Foreseeable Hazard'
  • Water News: Adelaida Area Groundwater Study Community Meeting is April 23
  • Compliance Resources: Air Resources Board
  • Environmental News: LA Times - California Enlists Surveillance Satellites to Sniff Out Greenhouse Gas 'Super-Emitters'
  • Agriculture Tourism News: Harvest Hosts Connects Travelers with Farms and Wineries
  • Wisdom From the Farm & Ranch
COVID-19 News: SLO County Public Health Releases Guidance for Agriculture Workers Who Received J&J Vaccine
Federal agencies call for pause on Johnson & Johnson...

Editor's note: This story is available in Spanish . Federal officials on Tuesday called for a pause on using the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after six women developed rare blood clots days after receiving the single-dose shots...

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Johnson & Johnson Vaccine: Update and FAQs for Agriculture Workers in San Luis Obispo County - April 13
Download the FAQ in English and Spanish
Community News: SLO Chamber of Commerce Announces Government 101 Training Series
Catalytic converter theft spreads to local orchards

If work crews weren't out in September checking the wind machines in his orchards, local citrus grower Matt Fisher might not have spotted the problem until it was too late. Thieves had ripped open six of the 20-foot-tall blowers - put there to...

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Cracking the Government Code | Government 101

Cracking the Government Code is a new event series designed to get you answers to these questions and share shortcuts to more quickly and easily shape the community you love. If you're someone who wants to get involved and help craft the future...

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Kitchen Connections: Slow Money SLO Can Help Match Entrepreneurs With Commercial Kitchen Space 
From our friends at Slow Money SLO:  
As part of our support of small food entrepreneurs, over the years Slow Money SLO has connected growing businesses to kitchen space that allows for more production. This is a great way to support the growing business, as well as support the kitchen owners. 
Our website Resource Room outlines many of the steps that food businesses can take as they grow, including Cottage Food Laws and licenses, Health Department guidelines, and a list of commercial kitchens in the region where food production space can be rented. 
If you or someone you know is looking for kitchen space, please email us and we can help find a good fit! 
County Government News: Supervisors Meet April 20
SLO County Board of Supervisors Meets April 20
Agenda Items of Interest to Agriculture:

  • Item 21: Submittal of resolutions to levy benefit assessments for costs of San Luis Obispo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Zones 1, 1A, 4, 16, and 18 for FY 2021-22. Districts 1, 2, and 4. Read more here.
  • Item 35: Receive and file a presentation of the Paso Basin Aerial Groundwater Mapping Pilot Study (Clerk’s File) results. Districts 1 and 5. Read more here.
  • Item 36: Request for direction on the staffing approach for County Groundwater Sustainability Agency activities in the Paso Robles Subbasin. All Districts. Read more here.
  • Item 38: Hearing to consider an appeal (APPL2020-00022) by Christina Maldonado of the Planning Department Hearing Officer’s approval of a Minor Use Permit (DRC2018-00228) for SLO Cal Roots to establish: 3.39 acres of outdoor cannabis cultivation area; 27,500 square feet (sf) of indoor cannabis cultivation area; ... on an approximately 54-acre site located at 1255 Penman Springs Road, approximately 1.25 miles east of the City of Paso Robles. The project site is within the Agriculture land use category and within the North County Planning Area, El Pomar-Estrella Sub Area. A Mitigated Negative Declaration has been prepared for CEQA compliance. District 1 and 5. Read more here.
  • Item 39: Hearing to consider an appeal (APPL2020-00015) of Cliff Bianchine of the Planning Department Hearing Officer’s decision to conditionally approve the application of Copper Creek Farms, LLC, for a Minor Use Permit (DRC2019-00042) to establish a phased cannabis cultivation operation including up to three acres of outdoor cannabis cultivation canopy, ... The project is located on the north side of Neal Spring Road, approximately 2.5 miles east of the Templeton Urban Reserve Line. The project site is in the Agriculture land use category and in the El Pomar-Estrella Sub-Area of the North County Planning Area. A Mitigated Negative Declaration has been prepared for CEQA compliance. District 1. Read more here.
To access the full agenda documents and watch the meeting click here.
State Government News: Farm Bureau's Friday Review
California Farm Bureau's Friday Review -for April 16, 2021

This week's State Legislative and Governmental Affairs Update includes:
  • Air Quality: AB 1547;
  • Ag Employment: SB 685;
  • Biodiversity: AB 564;
  • Cannabis: SB 59;
  • Climate Change: AB 125;
  • Commodities: AB 1289, SB 253, AB 535;
  • Farm to School;
  • Pollinators: AB 391; and
  • Water: AB 377.
Business Member Spotlight:
Madonna Inn
For over 60 years the charm of the Madonna Inn has been one of California’s landmark attractions and today it is a sought after lodging, meeting and convention destination.

The Madonna Inn offers an unforgettable experience with fine dining & entertainment, unique overnight lodging, banquet rooms for intimate weddings & receptions, exclusive clothing, gift & wine shops, horseback rides, hiking paths and more.

Located on the grounds: 110 rooms each with a special theme, a picturesque European-style pool & state of the art exercise room, a celestial Day Spa and the largest convention center on the Central Coast. Enjoy these impressive amenities...attracting visitors looking for a resort-style retreat just minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo
100 Madonna Road | San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
(805) 543-3000
Thank You Farm Bureau Members
Renewing Members:
Steve Easterby, Michelle Mitchell, Patrick Molnar, Rick Sauerwein, Charles Whitney, Jo Ann Switzer, Louis Gorfain
Labor News: Agri-Pulse - Legislature Looks to Tighten H-2A Regulations
Immigrant health care is on California Senate's wish list

Democrats in the California Senate said Wednesday they want to spend the state's projected multibillion-dollar budget surplus on things such as making college debt-free for students, paying for the health care of some...

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Legislature looks to tighten state H-2A regulations

Lawmakers are hoping to protect vulnerable H-2A temporary guestworkers from exploitative practices by returning to two earlier legislative proposals. Ag groups are pushing back by arguing the measures duplicate existing laws and add unnecessary...

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Wildfire News: Action by Insurance Commissioner will Define Scope of Farmers' Coverage Gaps
Action by Insurance Commissioner will Define Scope of Farmers' Coverage Gaps

With California farmers and ranchers finding increasing difficulty in purchasing wildfire insurance for their businesses and properties, the California Farm Bureau welcomed today's call by the state insurance commissioner for data on commercial insurance coverage.
Gavin Newsom signs bill to rush spending on California...

California is adding more than half a billion dollars in wildfire prevention spending this year after Gov. Gavin Newsom formally approved the money Tuesday ahead of the state's peak fire season. Under the legislation, the state will spend $536...

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California regulator says fire risk is 'hardening'...

After hearing stories about cancellation, nonrenewal or rejection of commercial insurance for wineries, wine grape growers and other agribusinesses in high wildfire risk areas, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Tuesday directed...

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Vineyard & Winery News: Popular Science - A Guide to Sustainable, Natural and Organic Wine
A guide to sustainable, natural, and organic wine |...

For thousands of years, people have picked, squashed, juiced, and fermented grapes to make wine...

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2nd U.S. Sustainable Winegrowing Summit

April 19-21, 2021 Join us and other regional winery and vineyard associations, engaged grower and vintner leaders, and others committed to sustainability for our 2nd U.S. Sustainability Winegrowing...

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Livestock News: Deseret News - The War on Beef in the West
Ninth Circuit hears Prop 12 arguments, but no clues on...

A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel did not hint at how it will end up ruling in a case argued Wednesday over California's Proposition 12, which would require pork products...

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Will the gray wolf survive if it stays in SLO County?...

News of a gray wolf making its way into San Luis Obispo County surprised many in the local community. It is the first time in nearly 200 years that a gray wolf has been confirmed on the Central Coast...

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The war on beef in the West

When Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared March 20 as “Meatout Day,” urging residents to consume an alternative protein to meat, he provoked a bull market on the consumption of hamburgers, steaks, lamb chops and other meat products...

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Produce News: AgNet West - FDA: Recent E.coli Outbreaks a 'Foreseeable Hazard'
USDA cancels Farmers to Families Food Box Program

USDA will permanently end its Farmers to Families Food Box Program at the end of May. The program, which bought meat, dairy and produce from farmers and directed it to hungry families, was created by the Trump administration during the pandemic.

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Pre-Solution Announcement for TEFAP Fresh Produce

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced plans to purchase Fresh Produce (WBSCM Material Number 111427). Pandemic Assistance funding has been made available to supplement The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) program for the remainder of the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021.

Editor's Note: This TEFAP program is basically the new USDA Administration's replacement for the popular "Farmers to Families Food Box" Program
Ag Pilots Issue Recommendations to Drone Operators
April 14, 2021 – AgAlert, California Farm Bureau 
The National Agricultural Aviation Association has reminded drone operators—commercial and otherwise—to be aware of the presence and needs of agricultural aircraft before and during drone operations. 
Agricultural aviators often fly as low as 10 feet off the deck to carry out their missions, the association said—well within the parameters of most drones, which are limited to 400 feet above ground level. "The Department of Homeland Security declared crop input services to be an essential service during the pandemic," NAAA Chief Executive Andrew Moore said in a statement. ... 
Farm Bureau members can continue reading here.
FDA: Recent E. coli Outbreaks a 'Foreseeable Hazard'

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a report last week that was a follow-up of their initial findings from E. coli outbreaks stemming from the Central Coast of California last fall...

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FDA's warning shot for leafy greens

Opinion On April 6, the Food and Drug Administration fired an unmistakable warning shot at the leafy greens industry.I hope it will serve as a call to urgent action that gets to the root of the problem of the persistent presence of dangerous E....

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Water News: Adelaida Area Groundwater Study Community Meeting is April 23
Adelaida Area Groundwater Study Community Meeting is April 23
California and Israel to Discuss Adaptation of Climate Smart Agriculture in Semi-Arid Areas

Please join representatives from California and Israel for a discussion on Climate Smart Agriculture policies and strategies to assist farmers within semi-arid climates. 

This discussion aims to elevate the importance of climate-smart agriculture within food production and promote further national and sub-national cooperation on this issue to improve agricultural adaptation on a global scale.

Tuesday April 20, 2021
8:00 AM-9:30 PM

Register here.
Drought hits California - and Newsom | CalMatters

By any standard, California is experiencing one of its periodic droughts after two successive years of below-normal precipitation. "We are now facing the reality that it will be a second dry year for California and that is having a significant...

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Farm, water groups push for funding for water projects

With President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan in its beginning stages, western water interests and conservation groups are pushing for massive investments in a vast array of water storage and conveyance...

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5 things you need to know about drought aid in...

Stop if you've heard this before: California is in the grip of a severe drought. Again. Now the federal government is stepping in to help. To assist California, which is the nation's largest food supplier, the U.S....

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EDF and lawmakers make plans for farmland to be fallowed ...

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has published a new white paper to guide local agencies as they prepare for a future that may involve fallowing a large portion of the nation's most productive lands...

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Compliance Resources: Air Resources Board
Upcoming CARB Mobile Source Training Webinars
  • MS504: In-Use Off-Road Diesel Vehicle Regulation - May 13
  • MS505: Large Spark Ignition (LSI) Fleet Regulation
  • MS507: Transport Refrigeration Units - May 20
  • MS511.2: Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) Operation & Maintenance - May 6
  • MS521.9: CARB Diesel Truck Rules - Compliance Options and Reporting Requirements for 2021 and Beyond April 29
  • MS523: Air Regulatory Overview for Public Schools in California - April 22
  • MS 523 B: Truck Regulation Upload Compliance and Reporting System (TRUCRS) for School Bus Fleets - April 27
  • MS525: Compliance Overview: Truck & Bus Rule, Off-Road Regulation, and Portable Equipment - June 3
To learn more about these trainings and to register, click here.
Environmental News: LA Times - California Enlists Surveillance Satellites to Sniff Out Greenhouse Gas 'Super-Emitters'
California wages uphill battle against invasive species...

It's nothing less than an invasion. Interlopers are coming into California by land, by sea...and by FedEx. That's what happened with the European green crab, a voracious cannibal that stowed away in packages of worms...

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Ag community welcomes more environmentally friendly...

California's agricultural community made clear in a series of public meetings last month that growers, dairies and ranchers stand ready to expand forward-thinking environmental practices - but that such activities don't...

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California enlists surveillance satellites to sniff out...

Years after former Gov. Jerry Brown pledged California would launch its "own damn satellite" to track planet-warming pollutants, the state plans to put not one, but two satellites in orbit to help it hunt for hard-to-find "super-emitters" of...

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Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett: Sparked the Creation of a...

Today's farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners are better prepared to maintain healthy and resilient soil due to the tireless efforts and contributions of Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett, the Soil Conservation Service's (SCS) first Chief and...

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Despite second dry year, Newsom resists declaring a...

Despite bipartisan calls to declare a state of emergency over California's deepening drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom sidestepped questions Tuesday about when he may issue a proclamation. The governor said his administration is talking...

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California bill to ban fracking dies, but other oil...

A tough bill that would have banned oil and gas production across California and required a 2,500-foot buffer between drilling sites and schools, home and playgrounds died in a committee vote in Sacramento on Tuesday...

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Agriculture Tourism News: Harvest Hosts Connects Travelers with Farms and Wineries
Agritourism Intensive 2021

Introductory Presentations by Experienced Agritourism Operators: Video Recording: North Coast Successes in Agritourism - Hear from Lorri Duckworth of Duckworth Family Farm in Sebastopol, California and Sarah Bennett Cahn of Pennyroyal Farm in...

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Harvest Hosts connects travelers with farms, bespoke...

Harvest Hosts, a membership program giving RVers access to unique RV camping options, today announces that it has exceeded 2,000 host locations on its platform. This list includes more than 575 wineries, 500 farms, 241...

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Advertise with SLO County Farm Bureau
Get Your Message in Front of Over 1400 San Luis Obispo Countians!
Our weekly E-News is sent out every Friday to our membership. If you're interested in an effective, low-cost advertising campaign ($150 a month) please give us a call or send an email to SLO County Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett.
Wisdom From the Farm & Ranch
By Ruby Kirk - 1988

Have you heard of cholesterol?
It is on the tip of your tongue,
it clogs up your arteries,
which sure isn't any fun.

It is an ordinary household word,
and now we have an epidemic,
when your eyes begin to cross,
you'll need to be on a systemic.

Pork and beef are really bad,
so some doctors and chicken men say,
and to be on a diet of chicken and fish,
sure is a gruesome way.

But we cowpersons have done some research,
beef and pork without any fat,
are proven to be low in the dirty varmint,
and we are glad for that.

But it will go in the way of appendicitis,
and in time will run its course,
then some other terrible ailment,
will then be out in force.

So enjoy your steak folks,
and have some pork chops too,
you're gonna be around with us,
until your time is due.
Farm Bureau Membership Matters
We cannot support your freedom to farm and ranch without your membership.

Join SLO County Farm Bureau now or renew your membership online. Go to to join, or download the membership form PDF. Have your renewal notice available to speed up the process; you will need to enter your membership number, name and ZIP code. Renewal dues may be paid online or over the phone by credit card.

We're here to help! Call us if you need some assistance with membership, at 805-543-3654. All California county Farm Bureau memberships are processed through the California Farm Bureau Federation, but please reach out to our SLO County office if you need your membership number or have questions.
Thank You San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau
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