San Luis Obispo County Agriculture News
June 25, 2021
Applications Now Open for San Luis Obispo Fire Department's New Ag Pass Program
Following successful programs in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, SLO County Fire Department announced this week it is now accepting applications from farmers and ranchers for its newly-developed Ag Pass program.

This program identifies farm and ranch employees to first responders and emergency workers assigned to restrict public access to areas threatened during a fire and other disasters. The Ag Pass program allows limited emergency access to protect or care for agricultural assets and/or provide support information to emergency personnel. Your role does not involve fighting fire or acting as a first responder during disaster.

Eligibility and Application Information
  • Individuals eligible for the program must be key personnel who have a working knowledge of the property, including access to irrigation systems, farm equipment, and other essential infrastructure.
  • Eligibility requirements must be met prior to training. The Ag Pass is only available for those in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) and only for commercial ag operations.
  • To obtain an Ag Pass, you must attend the free training that covers basic fire behavior, communications during a disaster and incident command structure.
  • The mandatory training session is scheduled for Saturday, July 17th. The time and location will be announced later after officials can gauge the level of participation.
  • Download the training flyer, application and liability release form from the San Luis Obispo County Fire Department.

For more information, please contact Loree McRoberts at (805) 593-3490 or
Note: Your Farm Bureau or Cattlemen's Assn. membership can be used as one of the required items to confirm you work in agriculture.
This Week in SLO County Agriculture
In This Issue:
  • County Government News: SLO County Farm Bureau Leads Effort to Protect Herders from New Overtime Pay Law;
  • USDA News: SLO County Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections 2021;
  • State Government News: Wildfire-Insurance Measure Moves to Assembly Floor;
  • Business Member Spotlight: The Thom Group;
  • Labor News: Morning Ag Clips - High Court Backs Businesses Challenging California Labor Law;
  • Environmental News: ABC News - Western Drought Brings Another Woe: Voracious Grasshoppers;
  • Wildfire News: The Guardian - Wildfires Burn Across US West as Lightning sets off Blaze Near Arizona City;
  • Vineyard & Winery News: SLO New Times - A Toast to SLO Coast: Local Wine Expert Helps Bring a new Format to Roll Out the Barrels 2021;
  • Produce News: Food Navigator USA - 'A Solution in Search of a Problem...' California Olive Oil Row Heats up as Producers Clash Over Labeling Bill ;
  • Water News: The Tribune - SLO County is now in ‘extreme’ or ‘exceptional’ drought. What happens now?;
  • Livestock News: Morning Ag Clips - Hearing Examines Cattle Market Transparency, Competition;
  • Agronomic Resources: UC Ag Experts Talk: Biology and Management of Avocado Lace Bug in California; and
  • Wisdom From the Farm & Ranch.
Reminder: San Luis Obispo County Young Farmers & Ranchers is Back! 
Are you a young professional involved in agriculture? On Wednesday, July 7, come network with local farmers, ranchers, students and young professionals who share your passion for agriculture. It's been a long time since we've met, so we're getting together for a casual dinner and drinks on the patio behind Cal Coast Beer and Iron Oaks Winery in downtown Paso Robles. Food is on us, and you can grab a local beer or wine just a few steps away. 

This social is hosted by San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau and California Women for Agriculture of SLO County. Everyone is welcome! We'll give a short update on what's going on with our organizations, but the only agenda item is hanging out and celebrating being back together!
Wanted: Greenhouse for Lease
A San Luis Obispo County flower grower is looking for greenhouses to rent or lease in SLO County. For more information, please contact Brent Burchett at or call 805-543-3654.
County Government News: SLO County Farm Bureau Leads Effort to Protect Herders from New Overtime Pay Law
SLO County Farm Bureau Leads Effort to Protect Herders from New Overtime Pay Law
Supervisors Unanimously Approve Resolution Asking Governor Newsom to Intervene on Behalf of California Herders
San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau worked with the SLO County Board of Supervisors this week to pass a Resolution asking Governor Newsom to exempt California sheep and goat herders from the overtime pay law passed in 2016, AB 1066.

If the Governor does not act, new overtime regulations will kick in January of 2022 that would effectively put the commercial sheep and goat industry out of business in a time where grazing animals play a crucial role in preventing wildfires.

If herders are not exempted, farms would have to pay for 128 hours of overtime on top of a normal 40 hour work week.

As explained in recent media coverage on this topic, "Those workers wouldn't qualify for salary, so there's no way around the new law. People who own sheep ranching companies say it would tank their business, forcing them to lay off workers, reduce their business size, or risk going out of business entirely."

Thank you Supervisor Debbie Arnold for putting this issue on the Board's agenda. To watch the June 22 discussion on this issue (Agenda Item 11) from Supervisor Arnold and Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett, click here.
City of Paso FAQ on Homelessness Issues

Due to an increase in requests for information about legal and safety issues surrounding homeless residents and riverbed clearing, the City of Paso Robles has compiled answers to frequently asked questions surrounding those issues. The majority...

Read more
SLO County grapples with a $3.2 million loss on cannabis

San Luis Obispo County supervisors discussed the county's struggling cannabis program on June 22, with staff highlighting a $3.2 million net loss since 2018 and a dearth of operational businesses. click to enlarge After nearly four years, SLO...

Read more
USDA News: SLO County Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections 2021
Farm Service Agency Now Accepting Nominations for County Committee Members

The San Luis Obispo County Farm Service Agency (FSA) began accepting nominations for county committee members on June 15. Elections will occur in Local Administrative Areas 2(LAA-2) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. All nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 2, 2021.

Committees are comprised of locally elected agricultural producers responsible for the fair and equitable administration of FSA farm programs in their counties. Committee members are accountable to the Secretary of Agriculture. If elected, members become part of a local decision making and farm program delivery process.

Agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in a USDA program, and reside in the LAA that is up for election this year, may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. A cooperating producer is someone who has provided information about their farming or ranching operation to FSA, even if they have not applied or received program benefits. Individuals may nominate themselves or others and qualifying organizations may also nominate candidates. USDA encourages minority producers, women and beginning farmers or ranchers to nominate, vote, and hold office.

San Luis Obispo County’s local administrative area 2 (LAA-2) is currently up for election, LAA-2 has the following boundaries:
Northern boundary - Monterey County line
Southern boundary - North side of HWY 41 West, east of US 101 from Atascadero to HWY 58
Western boundary - Pacific Coastline
Eastern boundary - Northwestern side of HWY 58 to HWY 229 to HWY 41 East to HWY 46 East to the Kings Co line.
Cities included: Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Miguel, Cambria, San Simeon, Templeton, and Cayucos

Producers who reside in any part of LAA-2 may be eligible to run and serve on the County Committee. To request a nomination form, visit the link below or call the office at 805-434-0396 x2. For more information follow this link If you have any questions, please contact SLO County FSA Executive Director Jeff Sledd at, or by phone at 805-536-3177.  
State Government News: Wildfire-Insurance Measure Moves to Assembly Floor
Wildfire-insurance Measure Moves to Assembly Floor
California Farm Bureau - June 24, 2021

With today’s approval by the Assembly Insurance Committee, a bill to improve fire-insurance options for farmers and ranchers moved one step closer to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. 
Senate Bill 11—sponsored by the California Farm Bureau and carried by Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, would authorize the state’s insurer of last resort, the California FAIR Plan, to underwrite insurance coverage for commercial farms and ranches. The bill now advances to the full Assembly. 
“With all signs pointing to another severe wildfire season, it’s crucial for SB 11 to gain passage as soon as possible,” California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson said. “Farmers and ranchers in wildfire-prone regions are having their insurance policies canceled and often can’t find replacement coverage. It’s an emergency that needs to be addressed immediately.” 
Continue reading here.
Gavin Newsom to face recall election

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will face a recall election later this year, California's Secretary of State confirmed Wednesday. Why it matters: This will be the second time in California's history that a gubernatorial recall campaign has succeeded in...

Read more
California Farm Bureau's Friday Review for June 25, 2021
This week's State Legislative and Governmental Affairs Update includes:
  • AB 1041, SB 331, SB 606 Ag Employment;
  • AB 888 Animal Health;
  • Gray Wolf Update;
  • SB 11 FAIR insurance plan;
  • AB 1322, AB 252 Land Use;
  • Enhanced Food Safety Webinars;
  • Greater Flexibility for Agricultural Haulers
Business Member Spotlight:
The Thom Group
The Thom Group is an independently owned financial consulting firm with more than 86 years of combined dedicated personalized service to our clients. Our independence allows us to offer you an unbiased objective approach to serving your investment needs.

Whether you are just starting to save for your future, or are a seasoned investor, The Thom Group has the financial management experience to direct you towards addressing your objectives. We also offer financial and investment services through Independent Financial Group to business owners and their employees. In addition, we also offer a wide array of insurance services as well. Our commitment is to always provide unbiased advice, impeccable service, and diversified financial resources to serve your individual needs … that’s one benefit of an independent perspective.

Our independent approach allows us to offer clients the most suitable options to achieve their financial goals without being constrained by proprietary products or corporate agendas. By affiliating with Independent Financial Group, an independent broker/dealer, we have access to the tools, regulatory guidance and resources to best serve your unique financial needs.
1457 Marsh Street Suite 200 | San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
(805) 805-546-6022
Monday - Friday 8:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
Saturday - Sunday By Appointment
Thank You Farm Bureau Members
New Business Support Member

New Agricultural and Associate Members
Amber Ridge Vineyard, LLC., The Luffa Farm, Carly Chandless

Renewing Business Support Member

Renewing Members
Stephen Devencenzi, Nicholas Thille, Rancho San Miguel, Larry Filipe, Santa Margarita Ranch LLC, Vina Quest LLC, Michael Dennis, Kirk Consulting, SLO Chamber of Commerce, Marilyn Quaid, Seacrest Oceanfront Hotel, Carol Brown
Labor News: Morning Ag Clips - High Court Backs Businesses Challenging California Labor Law
High court backs businesses challenging California labor law

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with California agriculture businesses in their challenge to a state regulation that gives unions access to farm property in order to organize workers. As a result of the ruling, ...

Read more
'Large Step Forward' Taken on Farm Labor Reform...

A recent farm labor reform roundtable brought together Senate leadership, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and farm and farmworker organizations. The group discussed the need for change as detailed in the Farm Workforce Modernization Act...

Read more
'Scarlet letter?' Farm laborers to wear masks if they...

America's largest garlic farm needs 1,000 workers to harvest its annual crop, but faces an unexpected hurdle in this year's recruitment drive: It now must document and track the Covid-19 vaccine status of these seasonal laborers.

Read more
Environmental News: ABC News - Western Drought Brings Another Woe: Voracious Grasshoppers
Western drought brings another woe: voracious grasshoppers

A punishing drought in the U.S. West is drying up waterways, sparking wildfires and leaving farmers scrambling for water. Next up: a plague of voracious grasshoppers. Federal agriculture officials are launching what could...

Read more
Farm Bureau Applauds Senate Passage of Growing Climate...

The American Farm Bureau Federation applauds the U.S. Senate for passing the Growing Climate Solutions Act. The act has 55 cosponsors, which makes it the first major piece of bipartisan legislation that would help farmers, ranchers and forest...

Read more
Wildfire News: The Guardian - Wildfires Burn Across US West as Lightning sets off Blaze Near Arizona City
Wildfires burn across US west as lightning sets off...

Dozens of wildfires were burning in hot, dry conditions across the US west, including a blaze touched off by lightning that was moving toward northern Arizona's largest city. The mountainous city of Flagstaff was shrouded in smoke on Monday and...

Read more
Washington proposes wildfire smoke rule twice as strict...

Washington regulators are proposing farms alter schedules or hand out masks to filter wildfire smoke even if the air quality remains at a level the Environment Protection Agency calls "acceptable." The rule could be in place by the end of June...

Read more
Vineyard & Winery News: SLO New Times - A Toast to SLO Coast: Local Wine Expert Helps Bring a new Format to Roll Out the Barrels 2021
Paso Robles Wine
Paso Robles Job Fair
Register Your Business

Employers are invited to showcase their business and current job opportunities at the Paso Robles Job Fair. Deadline to register: Thursday, July 8.

When: Tuesday, July 13 | 9 – 11 a.m.
Where: Downtown City Park, Paso Robles
What: Meet with job seekers from several sectors of all local industries
How: Register your business today. Marketing materials and set-up details will follow your registration.

Requirements: Must have a representative present at your booth from 9 - 11 a.m.

Hosted by: Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce | Paso Robles Downtown Main Street Association | Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance | City of Paso Robles

A toast to SLO Coast: Local wine expert helps bring a...

The executive director of the San Luis Obispo Coast Wine Collective lives and breathes wine-and worms. While Kathleen Naughton is working round the clock to help bring the region's annual Roll Out the Barrels event to fruition after a one-year...

Read more
Produce News: Food Navigator USA - 'A Solution in Search of a Problem...' California Olive Oil Row Heats up as Producers Clash Over Labeling Bill
Sweet Standby: Digging up the Facts About California Carrots
VIDEO: Did you know the 3rd largest carrot processor in the U.S. is Kern Ridge Growers next door in Kern County?

Reminder: Pine Tree Ranch Field Day Wednesday, June 30 - ...

The California Avocado Commission will host a Pine Tree Ranch Field Day: California Avocado Rootstocks and GEM Avocado Spacing Trials on Wednesday, June 30 from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Pine Tree Ranch is located at 19455 E. Telegraph Road, Santa...

Read more
Beneficial wasps released in SLO Co. to help combat...

A deadly citrus tree disease is resulting in the release of beneficial wasps in San Luis Obispo County. Citrus trees have been under attack from the tree disease Huanglongbing (HLB). To combat HLB, a series of wasp releases are taking place this...

Read more
'A solution in search of a problem...' California olive...

Existing law requires that the term 'California Olive Oil' can only be used on products in which 100% of the oil is sourced from olives grown in California.

Read more
Water News: The Tribune - SLO County is Now in ‘Extreme’ or ‘Exceptional’ Drought. What happens now?
WEBINAR: Collaborating Across IRWM and SGMA -...

This webinar featured a panel discussion to explore opportunities for collaboration on groundwater recharge across the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and the Integrated Regional Water Management Program (IRWM). The panel was...

Read more
SLO County is now in 'extreme' or 'exceptional' drought. ...

Drought conditions continue to worsen in San Luis Obispo County as heatwaves hit the area and reservoir levels sink. The county is now in what the U.S. Drought Monitor labels as "extreme drought" in the majority of the county and "exceptional...

Read more
Farmers Face Water Rights Curtailments, California Farm...

The California priority water rights system is being put to the test, as state regulators impose emergency regulations and send notices of water unavailability to farmers who are trying to negotiate their...

Read more
Water Authority sues county - Santa Barbara News-Press

The Central Coast Water Authority is suing Santa Barbara County over the management of the State Water Project. The organization filed the lawsuit in Santa Barbara County Superior Court and called the suit "significant and unprecedented" in its...

Read more
Farmers and ranchers need support during drought |...

While California is known for its world-famous entertainment industry and ever-transforming tech sector, agriculture is the often-overlooked backbone of our diverse state and one of its earliest economic engines. Our state's multigenerational...

Read more
New bill would make it easier to transfer water...

Producers are working to seriously reduce the surface water supply they normally receive from reservoirs. The lack of stable irrigation has already influenced farmers' spring planting decisions. "It seems that tomato acreage...

Read more
San Luis Obispo Valley Groundwater Basin Updates
Public Comment Period Now Open for Chapter 9 and 10: Projects & Management Actions and Implementation Plan 

Comment period ends July 22, 2021 — Chapter 9: Projects and Management Actions describes the projects and management actions information to satisfy Sections 354.42 and 354.44 of the SGMA Regulations.
  • The projects and management actions are designed to mitigate the overdraft conditions in the Edna Valley as described in Chapter 6 – Water Budget. This chapter includes a description of the projects and management actions the GSAs have determined will achieve the sustainability goal for the basin, including projects and management actions to respond to changing conditions in the SLO Basin (Basin). 
Chapter 10: Implementation Plan is intended to serve as a conceptual roadmap for each GSA to start implementing the GSP in accordance with Section 354.8(f)(2) and (3) of the SGMA regulations. The implementation plan provided in this chapter is based on current understanding of the Basin conditions and includes consideration of the projects and management actions included in Chapter 9, as well as other actions that are needed to successfully implement the GSP....

Public Comment Period Now Open for the Groundwater-Dependent Ecosystems in the SLO Valley Groundwater Basin 

Comment period ends July 22, 2021—GDEs are defined in SGMA as “ecological communities of species that depend on groundwater emerging from aquifers or on groundwater occurring near the ground surface” (23 CCR § 351(m)). This tech memo was previously referenced in Chapter 7: Monitoring Network and is reference in Chapter 9 as part of the expansion of the monitoring network management action.

The tech memo summarizes known information about surface water hydrology relevant to GDEs in the Basin, identify GDEs overlying and dependent upon the aquifer, identify sustainable GDE indicators, and propose a hydrologic monitoring network to track these indicators over time 

Livestock News: Morning Ag Clips - Hearing Examines Cattle Market Transparency, Competition
Animal rights group sues National Park Service over...

Dozens of tule elk at Point Reyes National Seashore have died from starvation and dehydration in the last year because they couldn't get past a fence the National Park Service erected to stop them from competing with cattle for food and water,...

Read more
Herd of cows escape slaughterhouse and stampede through...

Dozens of cows escaped a slaughterhouse in Southern California and roamed free for over an hour on Tuesday, injuring four people. One of the animals was fatally shot by deputies after authorities said it charged at a family. CBS Los Angeles' Tina ...

Read more
Hearing examines cattle market transparency, competition

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry recently held a hearing titled, "Examining Markets, Transparency, and Prices from Cattle Producer to Consumer." The following statements were released...

Read more
Agronomic Resources: UC Ag Experts Talk: Biology and Management of Avocado Lace Bug in California
UC Ag Experts Talk: Biology and Management of Avocado Lace Bug in California 
July 7, 2021 (3 to 4 pm) - Biology and Management of Avocado Lace Bug in California 

In this talk, Dr. Mark Hoddle (UC Riverside) will discuss biology, damage, and distribution of avocado lace bug, two instances of avocado lave bug invasion to California, phenology studies of this pest, and evaluation of natural enemy and insecticides for the management of this pest. One DPR CE unit (other) and one CCA and ISA CE unit (IPM) were requested.

Register here.
Wisdom From the Farm & Ranch
“Out Where The West Begins”

Out where the handclasp’s a little stronger,
Out where the smile dwells a little longer,
  That’s where the West begins;
Out where the sun is a little brighter,
Where the snows that fall are a trifle whiter,
Where the bonds of home are a wee bit tighter,
  That’s where the West begins.

Out where the skies are a trifle bluer,
Out where friendship’s a little truer,
  That’s where the West begins;
Out where a fresher breeze is blowing,
Where there’s laughter in every streamlet flowing,
Where there’s more of reaping and less of sowing,
  That’s where the West begins;

Out where the world is in the making,
Where fewer hearts in despair are aching,
  That’s where the West begins;
Where there’s more of singing and less of sighing,
Where there’s more of giving and less of buying,
And a man makes friends without half trying,
  That’s where the West begins.
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
Platinum Members