Correction on Kings River water coalition enrollment sessions
Editor’s Note: In yesterday’s story on the May 17 enrollment sessions for commercially irrigated land in the Kings River service area, we failed to note an important exception: Dairies under the general order DO NOT need to join a coalition for any lands that they already have under the Dairy General Order. However, dairy farmers with agricultural lands that are not under the dairy order need to join the coalition by May 19 to avoid penalties. WUD regrets the error.
The Kings River Water Quality Coalition will hold four enrollment sessions for growers on Friday, May 9 at the Fresno County Farm Bureau office, 1274 W. Hedges, Fresno. Sessions are scheduled from 1-2 p.m., 2-3 p.m, 3-4 p.m. and 4-5 p.m.
To enroll acreage at a session, growers will need to have with them the physical address and Assessor Parcel Numbers (APN) for each property they will be enrolling. They will also need to bring a checkbook for payment of the enrollment fee. Coalition membership forms will be available at the workshop. To find out more about the Coalition go to www.kingsriverwqc.org or call 559-365-7958.
April 17, 2014 WUD News
WUD calls for extension of tax code provisions helpful to farmers
Western United Dairymen has called on Congress to renew areas of the expired tax code dealing with bonus depreciation and immediate expensing of purchased business assets. In a letter co-signed by more than 30 national agricultural organizations, WUD called on Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp to address expired tax policies that are of importance to farmers and ranchers.
The letter asks the committee to focus on tax code provisions such as Section 179 small business expensing and bonus depreciation. Section 179 allows farmers and ranchers to write off capital expenditures in the year that purchases are made rather than depreciate them over time. “The ability to immediately expense capital purchases also provides an incentive for farmers and ranchers to invest in their businesses and offers the benefit of reducing the record keeping burden associated with the depreciation,” according to the letter.
Section 179 small business expensing provides agricultural producers with a way to maximize business purchases in years when they have positive cash flow. With expiration of the bonus depreciation provision, the maximum amount that a small business can immediately expense when purchasing business assets instead of depreciating them over time reverted to $25,000 adjusted for inflation.
The letter signers wrote, “We strongly encourage you to restore the maximum amount of expensing under Section 179 to $500,000 as it was previously set in 2013. Furthermore, we strongly encourage you to reinstate the expired 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment. We are concerned that the failure to renew these expired provisions of the tax code will place additional burdens on farm and ranch families who are asset-rich and cash-poor and already face an unpredictable tax code that encourages the breakup of multi-generational farm and ranch operations.”
The national groups asked the committee to include Section 179 Small Business Financing and the bonus depreciation in a tax extenders package.
April 11, 2014 WUD Friday Update
Raw milk bill fails in Assembly Agriculture Committee
Legislation that would have significantly relaxed current regulations by allowing the exchange, sharing, and direct sale of raw milk at “home dairy farms” failed to get a motion to move out of the Assembly Agriculture Committee this week. AB 2505 by Assemblymember Mariko Yamadao (D-Davis) would have allowed farms with three cows or less to sell or give away fresh-from-the-udder, unpasteurized milk without complying with some of the standards that apply to larger dairies.
Testimony in opposition came from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Health Officers Association of California, and numerous other organizations.
Mary McGonigle-Martin of Murrieta described her then-six-year-old son’s “odyssey through hell” after drinking raw milk and becoming hospitalized at a cost of $550,000. She faulted Yamada’s bill for failing to adequately guard against the spread of pathogens. ”Just because you are milking three cows doesn’t mean a small operation cannot contaminate the raw milk,” McGonigle-Martin said.
April 11, 2014 WUD Friday Update
12th annual WUD Golf Tournament tees off June 3 in Stevinson
Mark your calendars for the 12th annual Western United Dairymen north valley golf tournament which raises funds for the WUD Federal Political Action Committee. The tournament will take place on Tuesday, June 3 at Stevinson Ranch in Stevinson, California. The four-person scramble gets underway with a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. The day culminates with a dinner at which awards and prizes will be presented. The cost is $150 per player and includes green fees, golf cart, practice balls, lunch, tee prizes, refreshments and dinner. To download a registration form, please click here.
Farmers offered funding to help nesting Tricolored Blackbirds
Farmers who have Tricolored Blackbirds nesting in their fields may be eligible for financial assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to delay harvesting and allow the birds 35 days to fledge their young. Interested producers have until May 2, 2014, to apply for funding. This initiative is being coordinated through a partnership effort with Audubon California.
Farmers with Tricolored Blackbirds can help the birds by delaying their harvesting until the young can fly away. Last year, 65,000 breeding birds were saved – one-fifth of the species’ entire global population – after farmers agreed to delay their harvest schedule. Tricolored Blackbirds may choose different fields in different years and only farmers in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Riverside, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties, who actually have Tricolored Blackbirds on their property in a winter silage crop, are eligible to participate.
In order to be considered eligible for financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the applicant must have a vested interest in production agricultural and meet other program eligibility requirements.
Every spring, Tricolored Blackbirds build large colonies of nests in the Central Valley areas that were once marshy ecosystems and are now cropland. About 43 percent of the birds now use silage crops such as triticale and wheat to build their nests. Usually, the winter-planted crops are harvested before the birds have fledged, resulting in great declines in the Tricolored Blackbird populations. The species is now federally listed as a Bird of Conservation Concern, a California state Species of Special Concern, and also protected under the provisions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
More information on NRCS’ products and services can be found on the NRCS California web site at www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov.
April 11, 2014 WUD Friday Update
WUD critical of proposed FDA feed rule
Western United Dairymen has written a comment letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criticizing its draft livestock feed regulations. The draft regulations were issued under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which gave the FDA broad new authority to regulate food. The rule has encountered opposition in recent weeks from many animal agriculture organizations who believe the draft animal feed regulation goes too far, particularly because it would make it harder to use brewers’ grain as animal feed, a practice in use for hundreds of years.
“California’s agricultural environment is considerably different than the rest of the states and that environment needs to be considered as FDA drafts this feed rule,” said CEO Michael Marsh in WUD’s comments. “Hundreds of crops are grown in the Golden State and many of these crops produce by-products which are fed to livestock. This provides a quality feed for livestock, including dairy, and a useful outlet for these by-products other than land filling or other wasteful practices.”
Marsh explained, “This rule needs to be risk based and it is not currently clear what risk is being mitigated by these costly requirements. The costs that are borne by the providers of our feeds to comply with these rules will be passed down to farmers, including small farmers, which have struggled with high feed costs in recent years.”
Marsh concluded, “It appears that many of the regulatory concepts, definitions and terms in the proposed rule were lifted from rules appropriately applied to human food. We believe that the FDA must base this regulatory program in science and risk analysis as it relates to animal food and to focus on mitigating animal food hazards that are known to occur or are reasonably foreseeable to occur that pose risk to animal and/or human health.”
April 4, 2014 WUD Friday Update
Assembly water bond hearing set for April 17 in Modesto
The Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee will hold an oversight hearing in Modesto on the need, from a local perspective, for a 2014 water bond. The hearing will be held April 17 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Modesto Junior College, West Campus, Mary Stuart Student Learning Center, 2201 Blue Gum Ave., Modesto. Public comment will be taken after two panels of speaks offer their testimony. Public comment will be limited to two to three minutes. The committee is chaired by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood). He has established an Assembly Water Bond Working Group that crafted a set of principles to set spending priorities and increase accountability to the public.
Rendon is the author of AB 1331, The Clean and Safe Drinking Water Act Of 2014. This bill in its present form includes, $2.5 billion for above - and below -ground storage projects (includes a “modified” form of continuous appropriation language), provides $1 billion for water quality, $1.5 billion for protection of rivers and watersheds, a total of $2 billion for regional projects and integrated regional water management (IRWM), and $1 billion for the Delta Sustainability projects.
More information on the proposed water bonds can be found at http://awpw.assembly.ca.gov/waterbond
April 11, 2014 WUD Friday Update
Milk Marketing Order Panel questions posted on-line
Written questions that were submitted at the March 6 milk marketing order panel discussion held at the WUD convention have been posted to the WUD website. The questionscan be viewed by clicking here,. The questions will be forwarded to the panel participants for their responses. The panel participants were attorney Chip English, USDA Deputy Administrator- Dairy Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, and attorney John Vlahos.
Dairy princess Mary Barcellos honored at WUD convention
Mary Barcellos, the Kings County Dairy Princess for 2013-14, was the recipient of a couple of surprise gifts at the recent WUD convention. After Mary gave her prepared remarks to the audience at the Thursday night banquet, convention coordinator Heidi Savage, along with WUD President Tom Barcellos, presented her with a $100 gas gift card to help with her costs in traveling back and forth to school and a $200 grant from the College of the Sequoias to assist with college costs. Mary is the daughter of Avelino and Mary Barcellos of Hanford.
WUD Dairy Leaders Class graduates at convention
Members of Western United Dairymen’s highly regarded California Dairy Leaders program were honored at WUD’s convention with a graduation ceremony. This is the twelfth year for the nationally recognized leadership development program designed to provide an in-depth study of the major issues faced by California dairy families.
California Dairy Leaders Class XII members are, from left, Katherine Nissen, Nissen Dairy Inc., Escalon; Melissa Lema, Western United Dairymen, Dixon; Paul van Puijenbroek, De Snayer Dairy, Lodi; Deanna Martin, USDA Farm Service Agency, Stockton; Elysha Bergwerff, Bergwerff Farms Inc., Escalon and Cristina Vieira, A & C Vieira Dairy, Turlock.
March 21, 2014 WUD Friday Update