UCCE Livestock & Range Blogs
Eight months after devastating fires swept through Sonoma County, our community has rallied to an ongoing recovery. Still, the tragedy of those wildfires remains fresh in the minds of our friends and neighbors. The lives and property that were lost last...
The following is a re-post from the trade journal Meating Place.
USDA announced the agency has decided to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule published on January 19, 2017. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018.
The rule would have increased federal regulation around animal housing, healthcare, transportation and slaughter practices of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers.
According to USDA, significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule published in January 2017.
“After careful review and two rounds of public comment, USDA has determined that the rule exceeds the Department's statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers,” an agency news release stated.
“The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach. “The organic industry's continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers.”
Among other things, the rules would have stopped organic poultry producers from using screened-in “porches” to house birds and required them instead to provide organic poultry with outdoor access.
Organic group pursues legal options
Last week, the Organic Trade Association requested that oral arguments be heard in the lawsuit it filed last September against USDA over its failure to put into effect the (now dismissed) new organic livestock standards. Before today's decision to withdraw the rule, USDA had delayed implementation multiple times since the January 2017 final rule.
Reacting to today's news, OTA Executive Director and CEO Laura Batcha said, "This most recent egregious attempt by the Department to ignore the will of the organic industry and consumers does not halt the Organic Trade Association's seeking judicial review, but in fact furthers our resolve.The Organic Trade Association will be immediately amend the complaint to yet again challenge USDA”s latest attempt to kill a rule that has been fully vetted over a decade."
Applegate, the nation's leading natural and organic prepared meat products company, had also supported the rules.
“Our company is harmed by competition from organic livestock products that are not meeting the highest organic welfare standards,” said Gina Asoudegan, Applegate's vice president of mission and innovation strategy. “The absence of a consistent national standard for organic livestock products and its associated additional costs harm consumers in the form of higher prices.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Humane Society of the United States and The Animal Welfare Institute had also supported the now dismissed rules.
The current cost is $9/acre for 10 pounds/acre seeding rate and $10/acre for 20 pounds/acre seeding rate. If more landowners participate with more acres the price may go down. Gibson plans on being here on the Sunday after Thanksgiving which is November 26, 2017. Diane, Devon (Farm Bureau), Katie Delbar (FSA) and I are working together to get the word out not just the ranchers who have been affected by the fire, but also any rancher who would like to take advantage of the plane being in the area to get some seeding done. Diane was told that Gibson said that he would help to source seed. Feel free to share this information with anyone you think might want to be involved.
Usually the goal for a cattle, sheep or goat livestock operation is to maximize high quality forage production. Typically on the North Coast, a 50:50 mix of annual grasses and legumes are recommended and seeded at 20 to 25 lbs per acre. The grasses are usually annual ryegrass, brome and fescue. The annual legume is subterranean clover. In areas of less steep topography and good soils, Berber orchardgrass, a perennial, may be substituted for part of the grass mixture. Perennials extend the green season providing better forage and enhance carbon storage. Many, however, don't compete well with annuals and have difficulty surviving our hot dry summers. A recent paper in California Agriculture was just published on some other promising forage perennials. The study was done in the Sierra foothills and a few of those mentioned have been tested here. The link to the current issue is http://ucanr.edu/repository/fileAccessPublic.cfm?calag=fullissues/CAv071n04.pdf&url_attachment=N. The range seeding paper starts on page 239.
For those interested in using California native grasses and forbs check out the following publication at http://ucanr.edu/sites/BayAreaRangeland/files/267610.pdf. Be aware that seed sources for natives will often cost more than 10 times the typical forage species. Also some are toxic to livestock or are not great forage species.
Post fire inventories include a lot for ranchers, e.g. stock, forage, fence, buildings and equipment losses immediately come to mind. Equally important is an inventory of potential sediment sources from hill slopes, fire cut roads and riparian areas that will need mitigation to prevent soil loss and sediment movement into streams.
Rice straw as mulch, in bales for check dams and in the ubiquitous waddles all come into play for the recovery process. Sometimes the mulch is also used in reseeding sites too. The following sources of rice straw were put together by Rachel Elkins, pomology advisor and were forwarded to me by Greg Giusti, forestry and wildlands advisor - emeritus.
Paul Buttner of the California Rice Commission (https://twitter.com/PaulTheRiceGuy). His website is: http://www.ricestrawmarket.org/index.html. It is a buyer-seller website. His phone number is (916) 206-5340. His twitter page links to http://calrice.org with more contact information.
Ken Collins, a rice grower in Gridley (Butte County) is a large rice straw dealer. His phone number is (530) 682-6020.
EarthSavers makes straw wattles. They are in Woodland: http://www.earth-savers.com/.
Once you have an inventory of potential sediment sources identified, contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for technical help with mitigation and design of erosion control structures. I've included Carol Mandel's contact information below. Many of these mitigation techniques will have cost share programs to help.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
1252 Airport Park Blvd. Suite B-1
Ukiah CA 95482
Bus: (707) 468-9223
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) to reimburse producers up to 75% of the market value of animals lost due to adverse weather conditions. Adverse weather conditions under LIP include wildfires. All classes of cattle are eligible for reimbursement including cows, bulls and calves. For 2017, a claim for a bull is paid out at $1,350.34, a cow at $1,038.73 and non-adult cattle (calves) from $471.22 per head to $1,001.12 per head depending on weight.
Sheep, goats and other stock including poultry are also eligible. There reimbursement rates for them are shown in tables in the document link included at the end of this post.
In order to be eligible to receive payment under LIP, a producer must notify their local county Farm Service Administration (FSA) of their intent to seek a claim within 30 days of the loss (see Katie Delbar's contact information below).
1252 Airport Park Blvd., Ste B-1
Ukiah, CA 95482
Bus: 707) 468-9225 ext. 2
A final claim must be submitted within 90 days of informing the county FSA office of the loss and the final claim must also be made within the same calendar year as the loss. Documentation will be requested by the county FSA office to verify the claim including any photographs that can be made available documenting the loss or the impact of the fire, records to prove ownership, etc.
A fact sheet about the Livestock Indemnity Program can be found here.