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San Luis Obispo County Agriculture News

May 20, 2022


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County Releases Draft Environmental Impact Report for Proposed Paso Basin Planting Ordinance

On Friday, May 20, SLO County Department of Planning and Building released the Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (Draft PEIR) for the Paso Basin Land Use Management Area (PBLUMA) Planting Ordinance.

According the County, “The document addresses the environmental impacts that may be associated with a new permanent ordinance framework that would allow the County to continue exercising its land use authority to regulate planting of production agriculture irrigated from groundwater wells within the PBLUMA after the termination date of the existing agricultural offset requirements.”

As a reminder, here is an overview of the new proposed ordinance:

“DESCRIPTION: A request by the County of San Luis Obispo to adopt the Paso Basin Land Use Management Area Planting Ordinance (“Planting Ordinance”), consisting of: amendments to the County Land Use Ordinance (Title 22) and Agriculture and Conservation and Open Space Elements of the County General Plan (LRP2021- 00001) to require ministerial land use approval (“a planting permit”) until 2045 for new or expanded planting of irrigated crops irrigated with water from groundwater wells located within the Paso Basin Land Use Management Area (PBLUMA), as shown in Figure 1 below, with a two-tier framework: 

  • Tier 1 – authorizing plantings estimated to allow up to 25 acre-feet per year (AFY) of total groundwater use for crop irrigation per site, including existing crop plantings, and 
  • Tier 2 - authorizing plantings estimated to maintain neutral groundwater use on site based on a 6- year rolling lookback period from the application date. 

New or expanded plantings not falling within Tier 1 or Tier 2 would not be allowed. The estimated water use for crop irrigation is to be based on crop-specific water duty factors (AFY/acre) and crop acreage. 

In this context, “water neutrality” refers to a balanced water supply inventory, where new uses (of groundwater) that are replacing previous uses or relying on unused water supply credits do not result in an overall increase in water demands to the groundwater basin.” 

This new proposed ordinance is intended to replace the current Agricultural Offset Ordinance, which is set to expire August 31, 2022. The Board of Supervisors is expected to pass another short-term extension of the current ordinance until the new ordinance will go before the Board of Supervisors for a vote in December 2022. 

The intent is to expand the allowable amount of irrigation that all property owners in the Paso Basin can pump from the current 5 acre-feet per year limit to 25 acre-feet per year. The proposed ordinance would also extend current restrictions on new irrigated crop plantings until 2045. These restrictions would be in addition to any future cutbacks on irrigation coming from the County using its authority as the leader of Paso Basin Cooperative Commission. 

The current Agricultural Offset Ordinance has been described by the County in the past as a temporary measure set to expire when the GSP was adopted. This new proposed ordinance has an expiration date of 2045. This will place a 23-year ban on new irrigated crop plantings that do not fall within the Tier 1 or Tier 2 Ordinance categories reference above.

To review the Draft Program Environmental Impact Report in its entirety and appendices click here

Comments on the Draft PEIR are due by July 6, 2022 at 4:30pm. Submit comments or questions to: pasoplanting@co.slo.ca.us or submit a written statement directed to Kylie Hensley of the San Luis Obispo County Department of Planning & Building at 976 Osos St., Rm 200, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408-2040. 

Farm Bureau members with questions or comments are encouraged to contact SLO County Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett at 805-543-3654 or bburchett@slofarmbureau.org.

This Week In SLO County Agriculture

In This Week's Issue:

  • Community: 20 years later, SLO re-dedicates park named after pioneer of local agriculture;
  • County Government: From taxes to water, here's where SLO County District 4 candidates stand on the issues;
  • State Government: Farm Bureau at Work - Governor Releases 'May Revise' Budget;
  • Federal Government: Administration Nixes Plan to Boost US Farm Production in Response to Ukraine Conflict;
  • Business Member Spotlight: Paso Robles Ag Consulting;
  • USDA: FSA Emergency Relief Program- Disaster Recovery Assistance for Commodity and Specialty Crop Producers;
  • Environmental: California releases final 30x30 report;
  • Ag Economics: Addressing Inflation Critical for Farmers and Ranchers;
  • Labor: 3 Free Webinars That Can Help Farmers Now!;
  • Wildfire: Is my California home at risk for wildfires? New tool lets you check your ZIP code;
  • Livestock: Conspiracy theorists flock to bird flu, spreading falsehoods;
  • Vineyard & Wine: Paso Wine Fest 2022 - Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance - May 19-22;
  • Water: SLO County cities, towns call for cutbacks as drought worsens: 'All the easy water is gone'

May 13 Most-Read

1. Napa wine company buys 265-acre vineyard in Paso Robles

2. Newsom gets it right on desalination

3. Video: SLO County Farm Bureau - 4th District Supervisor Candidate Forum (Lynn Compton and Jimmy Paulding)

4. Governor, legislators won’t budge in high-speed rail dispute

5. As SLO County’s political landscape starts to shift after redistricting, three supervisor seats are up for election this June 

6. Water Rights, and Wrongs, in California

7. Hipcamp Protects $274 Million in Ecosystem Services and Injects $3.2 Million in Visitor Spending Annually Into San Luis Obispo County, CA

8. Video: SLO County Farm Bureau - Candidate Forum - May 3 - 2nd and 3rd District Supervisor Candidates

9. Succession: How California lawmakers play the election game

10. Foreign Investment in US Cropland nearly triples in past decade USDA data shows

Executive Director Report

Here are a few things we worked on this week:

  • Held a SLO County Farm Bureau Executive Committee meeting;
  • Monitored the May 17 SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting;
  • Met with SLO Chamber of Commerce staff on upcoming farm tours;
  • Assisted a member with a permitting issue for brush removal;
  • Held a SLO County Farm Bureau Legislative Committee meeting;
  • Gave an update on local ag issues at the SLO County Cattlemen’s Association monthly meeting;
  • Member Dan Ponti represented Farm Bureau at the SLO County Fire Safe Council meeting;
  • Gave our Farm Bureau weekly update on 98.1 KJUG The Tom & Becky Show (every Thursday around 9:05am);
  • Began review of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Paso Basin Land Use Management Area Planting Ordinance.

Upcoming Events:

Community: 20 years later, SLO re-dedicates park named after pioneer of local agriculture

20 years later, SLO re-dedicates park named after pioneer of local agriculture

Tucked away in a quiet corner of San Luis Obispo, there's a tiny, tranquil garden.

Eto Park, with its bright Japanese Red maple tree and other carefully maintained plants, is a lasting reminder of San Luis Obispo's Japanese heritage.

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SLO Land Conservancy - Job Opportunities

Finance Assistant - Full Time The Finance Assistant is responsible for performing various financial and accounting tasks for The Land Conservancy, in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Field Coordinator – Full Time: The Field Coordinator position is a primarily field-based position, playing an essential role in the on-the-ground implementation of the Land...

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Meet the Producer Who Swapped Her L.A. Law Office for California's Central Coast

Before becom­ing a farmer, Kathryn Keeler, the co-owner of Rancho Azul y Oro, had a high-paced, stress­ful job in the Los Angeles legal world, and wished for a dif­fer­ent, slower-paced life. Her grand­fa­ther's love of the California hills led her to fre­quently spend week­ends in the nearby Edna Valley with him,...

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Travel spending in SLO County reached $1.78 billion in 2021

As tourism across the country and the world continues to gain speed, the county's tourism board is celebrating National Travel & Tourism Week May 1-7, 2022, by highlighting how well the destination has done over its competitive set, in both funding and community impact.

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Santa Maria River levee trail from Santa Maria to Guadalupe will move forward

Preliminary work on a proposed trail along the Santa Maria River levee from Santa Maria to Guadalupe will move forward, despite objections from farmers along the route, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors agreed on a unanimous vote Tuesday.

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County Government: From taxes to water, here's where SLO County District 4 candidates stand on the issues

SLO County supervisors reverse position on letting voters pick who fills major vacancies

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors has flipped its position on whether to allow voters to choose who fills vacancies for key positions such as sheriff and district attorney. At its meeting Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to terminate a draft election charter that would require vacancies ...

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From taxes to water, here's where SLO County District 4 candidates stand on the issues

San Luis Obispo County is less than a month away from the June primary election, and two familiar candidates are fighting to win your vote to represent District 4 on the Board of Supervisors. The race is a rematch from four years ago, when Lynn Compton defeated Jimmy Paulding by 60 votes.

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State Government: Farm Bureau at Work  - Governor Releases 'May Revise' Budget

California Farm Bureau's Farm Bureau at Work - 

Legislative & Government Affairs Report from Sacramento

May 20 Highlights:

  • Gasoline/Diesel Tax Relief Update
  • Small Ag Business Drought Relief
  • Broadband Middle-Mile Initiative
  • Agricultural-related Appropriation Bills (Find out which bills were held and which are moving on)
  • Commodities, Pesticides, Pollinators, Transportation, Water, Wildlife and Cannabis Updates
  • Read this week's report here.
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Anti-farming interests are trying to take away employee rights


Last year, we let you know that AB 616 was going to strip workers of their rights. Thousands of you responded and the bill was never signed into law. 

Just like we predicted, the same anti-farming interests are back want take away agricultural employees right to a secret ballot in union elections. 


Make your voice heard! Tell your representatives to vote NO on this bill and help defend ag employees right to a secret ballot. Don't let anti-farming interests win.



The Great Culling: Which California bills did legislators kill?

California lawmakers won't be creating a state Election Day holiday this year. Nor will they be providing grants to local governments to convert public golf courses into affordable housing, or forcing health insurers to cover fertility treatments. All of these proposals were victims of the seasonal culling of bills known as the suspense file.

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Federal Government:  Administration Nixes Plan to Boost US Farm Production in Response to Ukraine Conflict

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California Farm Bureau Federal Policy News  - May 20

  • First Round of Proposals for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Closes, Second Round of Funding Still Available
  • SEC Comment Period Extended for Climate-Related Disclosures
  • Reminder: May 26 NCRS Services & Funding Program Information Session
  • Administration Nixes Plan to Boost US Farm Production in Response to Ukraine Conflict
  • President Announces Plans to Hold Hunger Summit
  • Read the report here

Business Member Spotlight:

Paso Robles Ag Consulting

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Specializing in Orchards, Vineyards and Row Crops

Paso Robles Ag Consulting provides orchard, field and vineyard crop efficiency. As seasoned growers and ranch managers, the Horwath family has been farming since 1954 with three generations of experience. Owner/Grower Ryan Horwath has over 20 years in-field farming experience.

Our core tenet is to provide factual, hard-won agriculture experience to growers and owners of every kind, we understand the kind of problems that arise daily in agriculture and would love to be who you turn to for solutions. We are not a tech or hardware company, we provide no gadgets or gimmicks—we are actual farmers who have a depth of knowledge to help your business run more successfully.

We can implement crop solution programs that maximize your yields, minimize your cost per acre, and increase efficiency on your ranch site. We serve San Luis Obispo County, Monterey County, Kern County, Santa Barbara County areas and beyond. 

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PHONE: 1-831-809-7986

USDA: FSA Emergency Relief Program- Disaster Recovery Assistance for Commodity and Specialty Crop Producers

FSA Emergency Relief Program- Disaster Recovery Assistance for Commodity and Specialty Crop Producers

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USDA accepting applications to help cover costs of organic, transitioning producers

PUBLISHED ON WASHINGTON - Agricultural producers and handlers who are certified organic, along with producers and handlers who are transitioning to organic production, can now apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) and Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP), which help producers and handlers cover the cost of organic certification, along with other related expenses.

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Thank You Farm Bureau Members

New Member

Wynette Winkler

Renewing Members

Stedum Properties, Martinez Faming LLC, C & M Nursery,

Montalvo Family Farm LLC. Richard Morgantini, George Andrews, Cheryl Cole, Loren Milburn, Mark Wheeler, and Robert Newburg

SLO County Farm Bureau Business Support Member List

Featured Member Benefit: John Deere

John Deere: Pay Less, Support More

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This Memorial Day, take a moment to appreciate John Deere’s year-round support for service members, veterans, and military family members. When you buy a green tractor – even a discounted one – you’re contributing to workforce reintegration programs, donations to groups like The SAVE Farm, and Honor Edition vehicles. 

Visit JohnDeere.com/FarmBureau to see how your Farm Bureau membership can help you save money and advance worthy causes at the same time. 

Environmental: California releases final 30x30 report

Alarming research on pesticide warrants curbs on its use

Even if you've never heard of imidacloprid, there's a good chance the world's most-used neonicotinoid pesticide is lurking somewhere in your home. Or on your dog. ...

Read More

California releases final 30x30 report

Fittingly, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) released the final "Pathways to 30x30" report on Earth Day to achieve the state's goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by 2030 in order to protect biodiversity and combat climate change.

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Ag Economics: Addressing Inflation Critical for Farmers and Ranchers

Ritchie Bros. digs into farm equipment trends with new Market Trends Report

With its May Market Trends Report, Ritchie Bros. digs through farm equipment trends to showcase trends in tractor, combine, header, sprayer, and air drill sales. According to Ritchie Bros. agriculture index, equipment prices are up approximately 14% year over year...

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Addressing Inflation Critical for Farmers and Ranchers

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that April's consumer prices were up 8.3 percent from a year earlier.

Micheal Clements shares more on the impacts of inflation and the steps to turn the tide.

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Study: Public-private ag market development adds $9.6B in export value annually

PUBLISHED ON WASHINGTON - Programs to help U.S. farmers build markets overseas boosted agricultural exports by an average of $9.6 billion annually from 1977 to 2019, an annual lift of 13.7% in export revenues and returning $24.5 for every dollar invested.

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Labor: 3 Free Webinars That Can Help Farmers Now!

Madera community says agricultural pesticides are harming them. Will California help?

Beneath a cloudless sky in southwestern Madera County, Berta Garcia stands in a driveway to talk with state officials about pesticides in the almond orchards planted a couple paces from her backyard fence.

Read More

Cal/OSHA Updates COVID-19 ETS FAQs

and Issues Fact Sheet for California Employers

California Farm Labor Contractors Association - On May 7, 2022, the day after the latest revision to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal/OSHA) COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) went into effect, Cal/OSHA issued updated answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a fact sheet. The FAQs continue to evolve and change with each revision and readoption of the ETS. The FAQs now reflect the updated definitions, processes, and changes to the quarantine requirements for close contacts. Amongst others, Cal/OSHA has clarified and explained the following points:

• The term “fully vaccinated” is no longer used in the regulations. All protections now apply regardless of vaccination status and requirements do not vary based on an employee’s vaccination status. The ETS does not require employers to document employee vaccination status, but employers may continue to do so.

• The definition of “COVID-19 test” has been simplified to make it easier to use self-administered and self-read tests for return-to-work purposes. A video or observation of the entire test process is no longer necessary; a date- and time-stamped photograph verifying the test result will now be sufficient.

Dept. of Labor recovers $225k in back wages for ag workers at 5 CA farms

CALIFORNIA (KTXL) - The U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) said Monday that it recovered $255,114 in pack wages for 588 agricultural workers at five California farms. The investigations also found that the farms failed to follow through with certain obligations to H-2A visa immigrant workers and imposed $54,617 total in fines.

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A few bad apples in farm labor account for nearly 75 percent of violations

No, the bad apples in this title aren't actually apples. They are the small percentage of employers in the produce industry who violate federal labor standards, according to a review of the current H-2A program issued by Rural Migration News from the University of California at Davis.

Read More

FELS Ag Employment News


Minimum Wage: $15.50 on 1/1/23: Gov. Newsom’s $18.1 billion Inflation Relief Package announced on May 12 included an announcement that the California minimum wage will increase to $15.50 per hour on January 2, 2023, as provided by SB 3 (Leno, 2016). 

SB 3 provided for a steadily escalating minimum wage beginning in 2017 to $15 per hour for employers of 26 or more employees on January 1 of 2022 and $14 per hour for employers of 25 or fewer on January 1 of 2023. The inflation adjustment clause of SB 3 directs the Department of Finance to calculate a minimum wage adjustment on or before August 1 of each year at the lesser of 3.5% or the U.S. Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (U.S. CPI-W), rounded to the nearest $.10.  

At the same time, supporters of a proposed ballot initiative to increase the California minimum wage to $18 per hour by January 1, 2026 announced they have gathered more than a million signatures to place that initiative on the Fall 2022 ballot – far in excess of the 623,000 signatures required to meet that goal.

3 FREE Webinars that can Help FARMERS Now!

From California Farm Bureau's Farm Employers Labor Service

May 25, 2022 (webinar): Employers' Requirements and Enforcement with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (feat. ALRB Chair Victoria Hassid): Rights to protected concerted activity and other rights protected by the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) apply to employees even in non-union workplaces. ALRB chair Victoria Hassid will offer insight into the Board's enforcement of these rights.

May 26, 2022 (webinar): Is the 3rd Time the Charm? Cal/OSHA ETS Changes Effective May 6: The Cal/OSHA Standards Board has adopted changes to the COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that are effective on May 6 and will be with us until December 31, 2022. What's changed? Erica Rosasco of McKague Rosasco explains it all!

June 2, 2022 (webinar): CalSavers Sign-Up Deadline Coming Soon: Are You Ready? CalSavers, California's mandatory employee opt-out retirement savings program is gradually being applied to smaller and smaller employers; in June 2022, employees of 5 or more employees will be mandated to register with CalSavers if they are not already furnishing their employees with an IRS tax-favored retirement savings option. Jonathan Herrera, Outreach & Marketing Manager for the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program will brief webinar attendees on the CalSavers program, employer registration, and employer responsibilities.

You can find more information and registration at Webinars by Farm Employers Labor Service.

Wildfire: Is my California home at risk for wildfires? New tool lets you check your ZIP code

Highlights From "Fueling the Flames"

The report assesses wildfire risk across the United States. 

The First Street Foundation has expanded its portfolio of peer reviewed, property specific, climate adjusted physical risk models with the launch of the First Street Foundation Wildfire Model, estimating the risk of wildfire on a property-by-property basis across the United States today, and up to 30 years into the future. This high-precision, climate-adjusted ...

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Is my California home at risk for wildfires? New tool lets you check your ZIP code

More than 71 million U.S. homes have some level of risk for wildfire, a study found, as hot temperatures begin to feed fires in California. Just last week, the Coastal Fire burned about 200 acres in Orange County, resulting in evacuations and more than 30 homes damaged or destroyed, according to the city of Laguna Niguel.

Read More

Livestock: Conspiracy theorists flock to bird flu, spreading falsehoods

Conspiracy theorists flock to bird flu, spreading falsehoods

Brad Moline, a fourth-generation Iowa turkey farmer, saw this happen before. In 2015, a virulent avian flu outbreak nearly wiped out his flock. Barns once filled with chattering birds were suddenly silent. Employees were anguished by having to kill sickened animals. The family business, started in 1924, was at serious risk.

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Payments to Livestock Producers Impacted by Drought or Wildfire - California Ag Network

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that ranchers who have approved applications through the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) for forage losses due to severe drought or wildfire in 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments for increases in supplemental feed costs in 2021 through the Farm Service Agency's (FSA) new Emergency ...

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Beef Export Values Continue Climbing with Strong Global Demand

U.S. beef export values recently hit a new record, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation ( USMEF), the data shows beef exports totaled 126,285 metric tons in March. The figure represents a one percent increase from last year and the third-largest on record.

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Vineyard & Wine: Paso Wine Fest 2022 - Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance - May 19-22

Local nonprofit announces new 'FLOurish' Program

Local nonprofit Dream Big Darling and human resources consulting firm The Millinger Group recently announced the launching of, "FLOurish 2022," a personalized assessment program for emerging women leaders in the wine and spirits industry. Qualified individuals are now invited to apply for one of 17 FLOurish scholarships that provide full-ride access to this innovative coaching and mentorship experience.

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Paso Wine Fest 2022 | Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance - May 19-22

Paso Wine Fest Grand Tasting will take place at the Paso Robles Event Center which offers awesome built-in amenities and more space to taste as well as dedicated parking, concessions, restrooms, shade, and additional outdoor and indoor venues for an enhanced experience.

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California wine grape growers eye millions in federal aid for 2020 wildfire losses

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said about $6 billion will be made available for crop disasters in the past two years, including severe drought and the devastating 2020 North Bay wildfires that led to significant reductions in the California North Coast wine grape harvests.

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Water: SLO County cities, towns call for cutbacks as drought worsens: 'All the easy water is gone'

SLO County cities, towns call for cutbacks as drought worsens: 'All the easy water is gone'

As severe drought conditions continue to hammer San Luis Obispo County, some cities and towns are requiring residents to cut back on water use - while others say they still have plenty to supply.

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State Water Board releases draft emergency water conservation regulation

Regulation would boost water savings starting in June From the State Water Resources Control Board: With intensifying drought causing the driest first quarter of the year in a century, the State Water Resources Control Board released an updated proposed emergency water conservation regulation today in response to the water conservation directives in Governor Newsom's March 28...

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Nonprofit Warns Water Shortages Will Lead to Fresh Food Shortages

California Farm Water Coalition says number of acres devoted to growing much of nation's food is diminishing

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SGMA IMPLEMENTATION UPDATE: With the deadline looming for the GSPs deemed incomplete, the State Water Board prepares for possible intervention

In January of 2022, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released their assessments of the groundwater sustainability plans for the critically overdrafted groundwater basins, approving eight of them and determining twelve to be incomplete. Those basins have until July 31, 2022 to correct the deficiencies and resubmit their plans to DWR or face possible...

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Farm Bureau Membership Matters

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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 slofarmbureau.org 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 us to lookup your member number or we can process your membership for you, 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.

Join or Renew Your San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau Membership

Thank You Platinum Members

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