From left to right: Jimmy Panetta (CA 19), David Rouzer (NC-7), Jim Costa (CA-21), Dave Valadao (CA-22), Chairman Glenn GT Thompson, Kevin McCarthy (CA-20), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), John Rose (TN-6), John Duarte (CA-13)
Farm Listening Session panel at the 2023 World Ag Expo. From left to right: Jimmy Panetta (CA 19), David Rouzer (NC-7), Jim Costa (CA-21), David Valadao (CA-22), Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson, Kevin McCarthy (CA-20), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), John Rose (TN-6), John Duarte (CA-13). (Photo: Caroline Webby - Valley Ag Voice)

New Regulations for Central Valley Farmers.

Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

There are three major legislative events occurring in 2023 that could alter the trajectory of farming in the Central Valley. Impending regulations on senior water rights holders and pork industry professionals are expected to advance in California Law, but the 2023 Farm Bill has been delayed by a lack of funding. 

FARM BILL DELAYS AND PRIORITIES

The highly anticipated 2023 Farm Bill continues to face delays leading up to its expiration on Oct. 1 due to budgeting issues, debt ceiling negotiations and Congressional Budget Office Projections. In a Senate Ag Committee Hearing on June 7, Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow explained that there will not be funding for the new farm bill which means that any increase in funding will require financial reallocation from other sections of the bill.

The Committee began the 2023 Farm Bill hearing in 2022 and is expected to continue into the early parts of 2023. These hearings will provide a chance for producers and agriculture industry experts throughout the nation to introduce their priorities for the bill. The National Farmers Union, for example, proposed several farm program priorities including permanent disaster assistance, crop insurance, and additional initiatives to strengthen food security.

REFORMING WATER RIGHTS

California’s water allotment runs through a complex system of riparian and appropriative rights, and senior water rights holders are generally protected by ironclad contracts. On May 30, Assembly Bill 1337 passed the state assembly and is processing through the state senate. This bill, introduced by Democratic Assembly Member Buffy Wicks, will reduce any use of water regardless of senior rights.

If enacted, AB 1337 would grant the Water Resources Control Board the authority to curtail any diversions from rivers and reduce agricultural diversions during drought years.

PROP. 12 REGULATIONS AFFECT NATIONAL PORK INDUSTRY

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Proposition 12 on May 11 which sets new confinement regulations for pig farmers in California. While the proposition was approved four years ago, it has not taken effect due to legal challenges. It will become a law on July 1 under self-certified compliance with third-party verification expected to take place by Jan. 2024.

Under Proposition 12, it is a criminal offense to sell whole pork meat in California unless the sow that bore the pig was housed within 24 square feet of space. Pork producers across the nation that are not in compliance with California’s new regulations are prohibited in the market.

In the Supreme Court’s ruling documents, Judge Brett Kavanaugh stated that the pork industry outside of the state will receive a harsh blow as a result of the ruling, citing that “California has a 13% share of the consumer mark market [which] makes it economically infeasible for many pig farmers and pork producers to exit the California market.”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture which is responsible for implementing the provisions of the legislation released a guidance report for pork sales in the industry.

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