Federal Policy News
April 14, 2022
USDA Announces Additional Details on 10-Year Wildfire Strategy, Announces Funding
On April 11, USDA announced $131 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds to begin work on the USDA Forest Service’s 10-year wildfire strategy, Confronting the Wildfire Crisis: A Strategy for Protecting Communities and Improving Resilience in America’s Forests. The funding will be allocated to 10 landscapes in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. The two landscapes in California, the North Yuba and the Stanislaus, will receive $28.6 million in 2022 and $80.7 million total over the next three years.  
Initial investment was targeted to Sierra Nevada landscapes that had collaborative, shared-stewardship projects that are at scale or could be built out to scale, crossed boundaries, and were ready for implementation. The work is intended to reduce wildfire exposure to communities, reduce impacts to critical infrastructure and watersheds, and carbon stocks. The Forest Service will be providing additional information on the projects in the coming weeks. 
Interior Releases 5-Year Plan to Address Wildfire Risk
On April 4, the Department of the Interior released a five-year plan to address wildfire risk. The plan is intended to work in coordination with federal, non-federal, and Tribal partners and in tandem with the USDA 10-Year Wildfire Strategy. The two plans, taken together, outline the monitoring, maintenance, and treatment strategy the agencies will use to address wildfire risk, serve communities, and improve conditions on lands where wildfires can occur. In addition to the plan announcement, $1.5 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for Interior’s Wildland Fire Management Program was also announced. The funding is intended to address wildfire risk and prepare communities and ecosystems against the threat of wildfire by making historic investments in forest restoration, hazardous fuels management, and post-wildfire restoration.  
Additional ELAP Assistance for Drought-Stricken Ranchers Announced
USDA has announced additional relief through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to assist ranchers with above normal costs of hauling livestock to forage or other grazing acres. This is intended to complement previously announced ELAP compensation for hauling feed to livestock. Additionally, ELAP livestock and feed hauling assistance is retroactive for 2021 and will be available for 2022 losses and subsequent years. These benefits are for places where drought intensity is D2 for eight consecutive weeks as indicated by the Drought Monitor or drought intensity is D3 or greater. Additionally, FSA has updated ELAP policy to also cover water hauling in areas experiencing D2 for eight consecutive weeks, lowering the drought intensity threshold (previously D3) triggering the availability of this financial assistance. For additional information on eligibility and payment calculations, read the USDA press release here
Initial Klamath Project Allocation Announced, Insufficient for Klamath Basin Farmers & Ranchers
On April 11, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced the initial Klamath Project water supply allocation as well as the Klamath Project 2022 Temporary Operating Procedures which guides water operations for the 2022 water year. Reclamation announced an initial Project allocation of approximately 50,000 acre-feet to allow for limited irrigation beginning on April 15, 2022, and subject to meeting an end of water year Upper Klamath Lake elevation of no less than 4,138.15 feet, with the objective of no less than 4,139.2 feet through July 15, 2022. The announcement, insufficient to meet the needs of Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers, comes on the heels of the 2021 approach, when no water was allocated through Project facilities for irrigation for the first time in the 118-year history of the Project. The 2022 supply announcement is the second-worst ever.  
Reclamation also announced $20 million in immediate aid to the Klamath Project through the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency for the 2022 irrigation season. An additional $5 million in technical assistance is also being made available to Klamath Basin Tribes for Tribally led projects. For additional information, the Bureau of Reclamation announcement can be viewed here
This Cheeseburger Explains Your Grocery Bill
Yesterday, Politico published an article with the title above, intending to explain to readers the reasons behind the increase in prices for all their typical hamburger ingredients. While we know our members are well versed in understanding where the food in their pantries and on their plates come from, the average consumer usually faces a bigger disconnect in understanding how these supply chains work. With a unique interface, we thought this piece does a great job in hitting on some of the labor challenges, inflationary components, and other contributors to rising food costs.
EPA Releases Nutrient Framework Memorandum
On April 5th, the Environmental Protection Agency released their Nutrient Framework Memo which expresses the agency’s continued commitment to supporting states and industry partner’s work in achieving nutrient pollution reductions from all sources. The memo emphasizes the importance of working with the agriculture sector and stives to initiate new opportunities, while also deepening many of the existing collaborative partnerships. It allows for states, tribes, and territories to continue to lead nutrient reduction efforts and encourages them to adopt a One Water, holistic approach.  
The agency will support states by providing helpful tools, technical assistance and collaborative relationships with USDA and other federal entities. Additionally, it would challenge states and industry partners to spur development of more effective technologies and create more innovative, market-based financing options for water quality improvements—such as water quality trading or banking. 
One concerning aspect of the memo is the agency’s intention to utilize their Clean Water Act authorities to advance their goals by strongly encouraging states to adopt robust numeric nutrient criteria into their Water Quality Standards. The agency also outlined their commitment to bolstering Clean Water Act processes for assessing waterbodies, listing them as impaired and creating total maximum daily loads. 
Administration Announces Plan to Boost US Biofuels
Earlier this week, the Administration and USDA announced their plans to boost the development of biofuels within the country. Together, more than $800 million in funding will go towards production and new infrastructure. With elevated gas prices and rising inflation exacting a painful toll at the pump, the Administration is looking for ways to expand alternative fuel production to push towards energy independence. The expanded infrastructure will not just go towards road transit, but aviation and railway as well.
CAFB Conducts Ag Labor Survey with UC Davis & ASU
CAFB would like to encourage your feedback on an agricultural labor survey recently released in partnership with UC Davis and Arizona State University. The survey examines how farmers adapted to reduced worker availability, how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted farming operations, and the extent to which labor-saving technologies are helping mitigate problems stemming from labor shortages. The results will be used for a statistical study to inform farmers, community leaders, and policy makers on how these issues are impacting the agricultural sector here in California. The survey should only take about ten minutes to complete and will remain completely anonymous. 
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Sara Arsenault
Federal Policy, Director
Matthew Viohl
Federal Policy, Associate Director
Erin Huston
Federal Policy, Consultant