News Releases

California Farm Bureau appoints Jim Houston as administrator

February 12, 2019

An experienced agricultural advocate and executive, Jim Houston, has been appointed administrator of the California Farm Bureau Federation. Houston will succeed Rich Matteis, who will retire at the end of March after serving as CFBF administrator since 2007.

Houston joined CFBF in October 2017 as manager of its Governmental Affairs Division. In January 2018, he assumed additional duties managing the CFBF Legal Services Division and serving as the organization’s administrative counsel. Prior to joining CFBF, Houston worked for six years at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, first as deputy secretary for legislation and public engagement, then as department undersecretary.

“Jim brings a combination of advocacy and governmental experience that makes him uniquely qualified to lead our Farm Bureau staff,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “As our organization celebrates its centennial, Jim is the best person to help guide Farm Bureau into a successful second century of service to California farmers and ranchers.”

Houston is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned a law degree from the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. His professional career also includes work as a legislative staff member and for a Sacramento advocacy firm that represented a variety of agricultural clients.

Following his retirement as administrator, Matteis will continue to serve CFBF as a strategic advisor. His 45-year career in agricultural advocacy includes service as manager of the Santa Clara and Alameda County Farm Bureaus, as a CFBF field representative and, prior to rejoining CFBF, 27 years as chief executive officer of the California Grain and Feed Association, which also provided management services and legislative advocacy for two-dozen other agricultural associations.

“Rich has successfully guided CFBF through a period of significant change and has cemented its role as the state’s premier agricultural advocacy organization,” Johansson said. “We are grateful for his service and pleased to continue benefiting from his expertise.”

Farm Bureau sues to block flows plan for lower San Joaquin River

February 4, 2019

A plan for lower San Joaquin River flows misrepresents and underestimates the harm it would cause to agricultural resources in the Central Valley, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation, which filed suit today to block the plan.

Adopted last December by the State Water Resources Control Board, the plan would redirect 30 to 50 percent of “unimpaired flows” in three San Joaquin River tributaries—the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers—in the name of increasing fish populations in the rivers. The flows plan would sharply reduce the amount of water available to irrigate crops in regions served by the rivers.

In its lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, Farm Bureau said the flows plan would have “far-reaching environmental impacts to the agricultural landscape in the Central Valley,” and that those impacts had been “insufficiently analyzed, insufficiently avoided and insufficiently mitigated” in the board’s final plan.

“The water board brushed off warnings about the significant damage its plan would cause to agricultural resources in the Central Valley, labeling it ‘unavoidable,’” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “But that damage can be avoided, by following a different approach that would be better for fish and people alike.”

The Farm Bureau lawsuit says the water board failed to consider reasonable alternatives to its flows-dominated approach, including non-flow measures such as predator control, food supply and habitat projects for protected fish, and said it ignored “overwhelming evidence” that ocean conditions, predation and lack of habitat—rather than river flows—have been chief contributors to reducing fish populations.

The water board’s analysis of impacts on agricultural resources “is inadequate in several respects,” Farm Bureau said. The lawsuit says the board plan fails to appropriately analyze its impact on surface water supplies and, in turn, how cutting surface water would affect attempts to improve groundwater under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—all of which would cause direct, indirect and cumulative effects on agricultural resources.

“California farmland is a significant environmental resource, providing food, farm products and jobs for people throughout the state, nation and world,” Johansson said. “Before cutting water to thousands of acres of farmland for dubious benefit, the state must do more to analyze alternatives that would avoid this environmental harm.”

California Farm Bureau commends introduction of agricultural immigration bill

January 17, 2019

Calling it “an important first step,” the California Farm Bureau Federation welcomed today’s introduction in Congress of new legislation to provide legal status to immigrant farm employees in the United States.

The Agricultural Worker Program Act, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, would grant legal “blue card” status to immigrants who have worked in agriculture for at least 100 days during the previous two years.

CFBF President Jamie Johansson said the bill addresses a critical component of comprehensive immigration reform.

“We’re encouraged by the bill’s introduction in both chambers and appreciate the leadership of our California legislators to begin tackling this issue at the beginning of the new Congress,” Johansson said. “Farm employees and farmers need legislation that addresses legal status for employees and their immediate family members who are in the country now.

“Though this legislation is an important first step, CFBF supports comprehensive immigration reform that would allow future employees to migrate more easily to and from their home country, as well as to move from farm to farm for employment,” he said.

“We encourage Congress to address the broader needs of farmers and their employees through comprehensive immigration reform,” Johansson said.

Grape-harvest image earns top prize in Farm Bureau Photo Contest

December 26, 2018

An intimate portrait of a man harvesting merlot winegrapes in the Napa Valley earned the Grand Prize in the 37th annual California Farm Bureau Federation photo contest.

The photographer, Andrew Lincoln of Napa, received $1,000 in prize money. He said he especially enjoys taking pictures of harvest and hopes his photos draw attention to the important work people do on California farms and ranches. Lincoln also won the contest’s Grand Prize in 2016.

This year’s CFBF Photo Contest attracted hundreds of entries from amateur photographers who are members of county Farm Bureaus or supporters of the California Bountiful Foundation.

Andrea Traphagan of Ravendale garnered First Place and $500 for a photo of her tractor-driving husband preparing a Lassen County field at sunset. Second Place and $250 went to Angels Camp resident Mindy Rasmussen for her action shot of a late-summer cattle drive. Lincoln also earned Third Place and an additional $100 for a photo that captured two snowy egrets in flight.

Six photos earned Honorable Mentions and $50 each, submitted by Celeste Alonzo of La Quinta, Chelsea Davis of Fresno, James Durst of Esparto, Nicole Andreini of Orland, Wendy Sylvester of San Luis Obispo and Traphagan.

In the Budding Artists category for photographers ages 13 and younger, 10-year-old Dottie Davis of Orland claimed First Place and $250 for a serene landscape of her family’s hay farm. A curious goat peered closely into the lens of Kyle Radich’s camera to earn the 13-year-old Point Arena resident the Second Place prize of $100. Both awards were presented by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

All 12 prize-winning photos were published this week in the California Farm Bureau newspaper, Ag Alert®, and will appear in the organization’s bimonthly magazine, California Bountiful®. The winning photographs may be viewed at, and will also be posted on the Ag Alert and California Bountiful websites.

California Farm Bureau urges House to pass farm bill

December 11, 2018

At a time of declining commodity prices, trade disputes and regulatory uncertainty, the California Farm Bureau Federation endorsed the federal farm bill adopted today by the U.S. Senate, and urged quick passage by the House of Representatives.

“With its provisions for nutrition programs as well as farm programs, the farm bill is important in the city as well as on the farm,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “We thank Senators Feinstein and Harris for voting for it, and will urge California congressional members to follow suit.”

Johansson said the bill makes a number of improvements to conservation programs, including the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program. It continues specific programs for fruit, vegetable, nut and nursery producers, as well as initiatives to benefit organic farming. The bill will also enhance trade programs to encourage exports of American farm goods.

“Farm exports support jobs in rural California, of course, but also in marketing and transportation companies located in our big cities,” Johansson said. “Programs that help California food and farm products reach more customers will boost jobs at ports and warehouses as well as at farms and packinghouses.”

He said Farm Bureau also welcomes farm bill programs to protect animal agriculture from catastrophic diseases, to allow dairy farmers to enroll in risk-management programs and to increase crop-insurance flexibility.

“The farm bill also invests in agricultural research, including studies of ways to mechanize more on-farm tasks,” Johansson said. “Farmers and ranchers face chronic problems in hiring enough qualified people, so this sort of technological research will be closely watched.”

But Johansson said CFBF was disappointed the final bill did not do more to improve wildfire prevention and forest management.

“Given the terrible impact of wildfires in California and elsewhere in the West, we need to manage our forests and wildlands better, and we will be advocating for that in the next Congress,” he said.

Revised ‘WOTUS’ rule should provide clarity, Farm Bureau says

December 11, 2018

Stressing that California farmers and ranchers take pride in caring for natural resources, the president of the California Farm Bureau Federation welcomed today’s release of a revised “waters of the United States” rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We will review the proposal carefully in the hope it will restore balance to enforcement of the Clean Water Act,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “The existing WOTUS rule has produced little beyond confusion and litigation, and has undermined farmers’ efforts to work cooperatively with government agencies to protect water and land.”

Farm Bureau has advocated for a rewrite of the 2015 WOTUS rule because of the extensive authority it gave to federal agencies to regulate routine farming activities.

“Farmers want to do the right thing for the land, water and other natural resources under their care,” Johansson said. “Doing the right thing and complying with the law should be clear and easy to understand. We hope the new Clean Water Rule will provide the clarity farmers and ranchers need to allow the continued production of food and farm products while conserving natural resources.”

Farm Bureau honors former President Wenger for Distinguished Service

December 6, 2018

Citing his passion for agriculture, his tenacity and his decades of service to Farm Bureau, the California Farm Bureau Federation presented its Distinguished Service Award to former CFBF President Paul Wenger. Wenger accepted the award during the organization’s 100th Annual Meeting last night in San Diego.

A third-generation farmer who grows almonds and walnuts on a family farm in Modesto, Wenger served as CFBF president from 2009-17, ending his term after serving the maximum eight years in office. He has been a Stanislaus County Farm Bureau member since 1980, serving as county Farm Bureau president before being elected to the CFBF board and then as a statewide officer beginning in 1997, when he was elected the organization’s second vice president. Wenger also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

CFBF President Jamie Johansson described his predecessor as “tireless” in his work on behalf of Farm Bureau and California agriculture.

“In his speech to our Annual Meeting last year, Paul reminded us that those who work the hardest the longest and invest the most are probably going to be successful. Although he was referring to Farm Bureau, the words certainly apply to Paul himself. He has remained actively involved in Farm Bureau and agriculture, and we look forward to his continued contributions,” Johansson said.

In nominating Wenger for the award, the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau pointed to his “lifetime in leadership roles in agriculture,” starting as a state Future Farmers of America officer in 1973, and cited “his passion for the industry and his tenacity to resolve problems and get things done.”

The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau volunteers from California. In addition to the award to Wenger, CFBF presented the Distinguished Service Award to longtime Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau leader James Marler.

Sutter County farmer wins Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award

December 6, 2018

In 61 years as a Farm Bureau member, Sutter County farmer James Marler has served in numerous leadership roles in county and statewide organizations. His dedication to volunteer efforts on behalf of agriculture led to his receipt of the California Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award, presented last night during the 100th CFBF Annual Meeting in San Diego.

A walnut grower and former rice farmer from Meridian who has been a member of the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau Board of Directors for 43 years, Marler has served as county Farm Bureau president and represented Butte, Nevada, Sutter and Yuba counties on the CFBF Board of Directors from 1997 until 2003.

“Jim Marler personifies the dedication to service that makes Farm Bureau successful,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “Along with his service on county and state boards of directors, Jim has served on numerous committees reviewing Farm Bureau policies, to assure our organization continues to represent the best interests of our members.”

The Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau, which nominated Marler for the award, described him as “the first to volunteer himself for a job; he’s not afraid to join a new committee to understand what’s going on, and is the first one to represent Yuba-Sutter agriculture at local events.”

The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau volunteers from California. In addition to the award to Marler, CFBF presented the Distinguished Service Award to former California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger.

Service to members, community brings honors to county Farm Bureaus

December 6, 2018

Excellence in policy implementation, leadership, membership services, agricultural education and public relations led to awards for three county Farm Bureaus at the 100th California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting. The County of the Year Awards were presented during a recognition dinner last night.

The Monterey County Farm Bureau received the County of the Year Award for county Farm Bureaus with up to 499 members. The county Farm Bureau provides a complete range of services to its members and the broader community, including participation on local boards working on groundwater management, water-quality protection, land use and more. This year, the Monterey County Farm Bureau took the lead in urging local government bodies to address the issue of illegal camping that has worsened problems of illegal dumping of trash in farm fields. This marks the third straight year Monterey County has earned the award in its membership class.

Among county Farm Bureaus with 500 to 799 members, the Imperial County Farm Bureau was honored as County of the Year. Its services include workshops and training opportunities for members, sponsorship of a daily farm report on a local radio station and publication of monthly columns in a local newspaper. During 2018, the Imperial County Farm Bureau hosted its most successful scholarship fundraiser ever, and distributed $34,000 in scholarships to local students. It also helped in planning the first Imperial Valley Ag Expo and participated in organizing a Saladero Contest in which teams compete in using locally grown produce to create the best salad.

For the second consecutive year, the San Diego County Farm Bureau was honored as County of the Year among Farm Bureaus with 800 or more members. Among its programs and services, the San Diego County Farm Bureau offers a membership-assistance program for beginning farmers, stages an annual San Diego Farm and Nursery Expo, administers a local water-quality coalition, operates two weekly farmers markets, promotes its San Diego Grown 365 brand, serves on two groundwater-sustainability agencies and administers a local Carbon Farming Task Force to help cities meet state-mandated Climate Action Plan requirements. During 2018, it launched a new website and moved into a new building that acts as a training and meeting hub for other agricultural organizations in San Diego County.

Also during the awards ceremony, six county Farm Bureaus earned recognition for outstanding membership recruitment and retention: Amador, Imperial, Madera, Napa, Orange and Sonoma.

In addition, the Mendocino County Farm Bureau has been selected as one of 24 nationwide County Activities of Excellence winners by the American Farm Bureau Federation, and will exhibit at the AFBF Annual Convention next month in New Orleans. Mendocino County Farm Bureau was selected for its Centennial Celebration, held earlier this year.

CFBF president outlines policy priorities

December 5, 2018

Describing Farm Bureau as an organization “that wants to go beyond making a statement by being determined to make a difference,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson outlined priorities for CFBF during its 100th Annual Meeting in San Diego today.

One area of ongoing emphasis will be in water policy, Johansson said, noting that Farm Bureau is prepared “to continue defending water rights and shaping water policy in 2019.”

“The strength of our water policy is the commitment to the idea that to meet California’s water needs, we do not need to sacrifice the water needs of one region over another farm community,” he said.

CFBF will remain actively engaged in policy discussions involving other natural resources, Johansson pledged, pointing out that California’s scourge of wildfires has demonstrated that “if we do not manage our resources, they quickly become liabilities.”

He said Farm Bureau would continue to fight back against expanding government regulation that hampers agriculture.

“That’s what ties us together at Farm Bureau,” Johansson said. “It’s the understanding that what’s bad for an almond farmer is bad for a rice farmer.”

Despite the difficulties, he said, “the opportunities have never been greater to farm and be in agriculture,” thanks to innovation and access to markets.

“What we have to do as Farm Bureau is to show this state that what we do best is create wealth” that benefits everyone involved in agriculture, including farm employees and people who work in transportation, marketing and other jobs, Johansson said, noting that “with water, sunlight, seed, good soil and some knowledge, you can grow something and you can sell it.”

Farm Bureau members today are much like their predecessors who founded the organization in 1919, he said, in their insistence “to make things better.”

“The success of Farm Bureau is as a volunteer gathering of individuals who understand that just like on our farms and ranches, actions speak louder than words,” Johansson said.

Yolo County man wins California Discussion Meet

December 5, 2018

In discussing the future of California agriculture in a world becoming more reliant on new technology, a contestant from Yolo County earned top honors in the California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet, held at the 100th CFBF Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Garrett Driver of Knights Landing emerged as the winner after addressing the topic of how the agriculture business can attract the best and brightest minds from science, technology, engineering and mathematics into agricultural careers.

In discussing how agriculture can increase its use of technology to solve challenges, Driver and other contestants suggested reaching out to companies, students and others to help with identifying STEM-based technological solutions.

“In our county,” Driver said, “an Ag Start program is exploring options and opportunities for entrepreneurs or people established in the industry to do something different, whether it be a product or a service.”

In discussing what Driver described as “the evolution of technology in agriculture,” the contestants identified areas of agriculture in need of high-tech solutions such as in mechanization or to help with reducing inputs.

Driver, a sixth-generation farmer and supply chain manager for Nuseed, will represent California at the American Farm Bureau Federation Open Discussion Meet, to be held next month at the AFBF Annual Convention in New Orleans.

Alysha Stehly of San Diego County was first runner-up in the contest. The other finalists were Brie Hunt of San Joaquin County and Tony Lopes of Merced County.

As the winner of the Open Discussion Meet, Driver earned $5,000 courtesy of sponsors Farm Credit, Kubota and K·Coe Isom. The first runner-up received $1,000, and the other two finalists each earned $500.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.

Young farmers from Tulare, Glenn counties earn statewide awards

December 5, 2018

A diversified farmer from Tulare County and a farm couple from Glenn County have earned awards for achievement and excellence among young farmers and ranchers in California. They received the awards today during the 100th California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Zack Stuller of Exeter received the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award, which recognizes accomplishments in production agriculture and leadership activity.

Shannon and Kelly Douglass of Orland received the Excellence in Agriculture Award, presented to young agricultural professionals who contribute through involvement in agriculture, leadership activities and Farm Bureau.

A first-generation farmer, Stuller became interested in agriculture while growing up in Northern California, eventually earning agricultural degrees from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After working for several years as a farm manager in the San Joaquin Valley, he started his own operation last year, farming and managing citrus fruit, kiwifruit and walnuts. His company also helps develop farmland for permanent crops. Stuller serves as treasurer of the Tulare County Farm Bureau and has taken a particular interest in water policy, serving on the county water commission and on the stakeholder committees for two local groundwater-sustainability agencies.

Shannon Douglass operates an agricultural recruitment business. She was elected last year as CFBF first vice president and also serves as a member of the Glenn County Farm Bureau board. Her husband Kelly is a seed sales representative. Together, the couple raise beef cattle and grow sunflowers, watermelons, squash, pumpkins, corn and hay.

Asked to name three important issues facing agriculture, the Douglasses cited regulation, the shortage of qualified agricultural employees, and the need to increase awareness of agriculture among non-farm residents. As farmers, they said, “we feel the pain of each and every regulation with which we must comply,” noting that paperwork becomes “a heavy burden and daunting task” for people trying to start a farming operation.

As winners of their respective awards, Stuller and the Douglasses each earned a $4,000 cash prize sponsored by Farm Credit, Kubota and K·Coe Isom. Stuller also earned 250 hours’ use of a Kubota tractor, furnished by Kubota Tractor Corp. The winners will represent California in national competitions to be held next month at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in New Orleans.

Leadership Farm Bureau Class graduates

December 5, 2018

Nine Farm Bureau members from around California have ended an intensive, months-long training program as participants in the Leadership Farm Bureau Program. The LFB Class of 2018 graduated today during the 100th California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Sponsored by CFBF, the Leadership Farm Bureau Program offers more than 250 hours of training during seven sessions. The 2018 class received personal-development, teambuilding and communications training, and advocated on behalf of Farm Bureau in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. The class members took field-studies trips to both Northern and Southern California, to deepen their knowledge of agricultural issues.

Graduates of the Leadership Farm Bureau Class of 2018 included:

  • Joseph Alexandre of Ferndale, a dairy farmer, CEO of the family dairy-products business and second vice president of the Humboldt County Farm Bureau;
  • Brittney Blankenship of Visalia, an underwriting analyst for Great American Insurance Group;
  • Joe Ferrari of Linden, a walnut farmer and member of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation board of directors;
  • Rachael Fleming of Lodi, a program director for the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation;
  • Brad Fowler of Penn Valley, a cattle rancher and president of the Nevada County Farm Bureau;
  • Jason Giannelli of Bakersfield, a farm manager specializing in almonds and row crops, and a member of the Kern County Farm Bureau board of directors;
  • Erin Johnson of Anderson, executive director of the Shasta County Farm Bureau;
  • Jessica Sweeten of Hilmar, a sales representative for an agricultural products company who is active in the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee;
  • Taylor Zumstein of Fallbrook, owner of a breeding-sheep business and event and marketing coordinator for the San Diego County Farm Bureau.

The class represented the 19th group to graduate from the Leadership Farm Bureau program since it was inaugurated in 2000.

Applications for the 2019 Leadership Farm Bureau class will be accepted through Dec. 21. For information, see

Farm Bureau welcomes delay in river-flows vote

November 7, 2018

Believing voluntary agreements hold the best potential for benefiting fisheries without severe losses to people, the California Farm Bureau Federation welcomed today’s state water board action to postpone a vote on a contested river-flows plan.

Acting on a request from Gov. Brown and Gov.-elect Newsom, the State Water Resources Control Board decided to delay until next month a decision on a plan to reallocate flows in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. Brown and Newsom said the additional time would allow for further negotiations on voluntary agreements with affected water users.

“Voluntary approaches that combine habitat improvements with well-planned, functional river flows offer the best hope for helping fish while maintaining the water rights people depend on,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “Those voluntary approaches also provide the best hope for solutions that avoid long, drawn-out court cases that would only prolong the uncertainty for both people and the environment.”

Farm Bureau and 53 other organizations urged the water board this summer to reject a proposal from board staff to redirect flows in the rivers, and to pursue voluntary agreements that would lessen flow amounts but be more beneficial to fish populations.

“We’re pleased the governor and governor-elect recognize the clear benefits of voluntary actions,” Johansson said. “Imposing stringent regulatory requirements based on policies that have failed in the past would damage an important region of California without helping fish. We will work with the governor and governor-elect to assure that any future agreements lead to success for the environment and the economy.”

Joint news release: Presidential order restores Western water supplies

October 19, 2018

News release from CFBF, California Farm Water Coalition, Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Today’s order by President Trump will provide welcome relief to Western farmers, cities, rural communities and wildlife refuges that have struggled under water supply rules that are long overdue for an update. Prioritizing national interest and the value of California food production, the president’s order requires the re-consultation of the biological opinions to be completed and fully implemented by August 2019.

The deadline will bring to a close the review of rules governing the long-term operation of the federal Central Valley Project and California State Water Project. The review has been underway since August 2016, a process today’s order requires to be concluded by Aug. 31, 2019.

The president’s action today fulfills his campaign commitment to help solve the state’s water supply shortages and will greatly benefit Central Valley communities and the environment. Since 1992, water supply restrictions have caused severe economic consequences for farms and the people who depend on them for work. Many of the state’s most disadvantaged communities have suffered due to scarce water supplies. Wildlife refuges that are a critical component of the Pacific Flyway have had insufficient water to meet the needs of millions of ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds and endangered animals in large parts of the Central Valley and the Klamath Basin. An ongoing review of the rules governing these critical water supplies only delays the ability of these important areas to recover.

This action will also help address water shortages that have occurred across the West as the result of federal regulations overseen by multiple agencies. It offers hope to farmers and ranchers served by federal water projects in the Pacific Northwest, including the Columbia Basin and the Klamath Basin. The president’s order places the responsibility of operating the federal water projects with the Department of the Interior, to be supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The action prohibits any impacts to threatened or endangered species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

This issue has been scrutinized by the Executive Branch as far back as 2011. At that time, President Obama observed that the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in freshwater, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. Those overlapping jurisdictions have only slowed efforts to help the fish.

A committee convened by the National Research Council also studied this matter a few years ago. The NRC found that the lack of a systematic, well-framed overall analysis between the two services is “a serious scientific deficiency, and it likely is related to the ESA’s practical limitations as to the scope of actions that can or must be considered in a single biological opinion.”

Improved coordination between federal agencies will promote more efficient, effective and coordinated management of all ESA responsibilities for anadromous and freshwater fish in Western watersheds, from the highest reaches of our headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

“This action is an important and common-sense move that will benefit Western farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on federal water projects,” said Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance. “It’s a practical and assertive change to Western water management and species recovery that our membership strongly supports.”

California’s GOP congressional delegation from the Central Valley played an important role in identifying the problems in the state’s water system and worked closely with the Trump administration to produce a solution that is consistent with federal law and will improve the water delivery system.

“There’s no question that the Central Valley has lagged behind the economic recovery experienced in other parts of the state. We’re optimistic that these changes will not only help improve water supplies for farms, farm-related businesses, and disadvantaged rural communities, they will provide the incentive to put science-based solutions to work to help recover iconic native fish species that have suffered under the existing regulatory approach,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

“This is a common-sense improvement to a process that has been abused in the past by regulatory agencies seeking to impose a scientifically-unsound regime on water users that ultimately, by design, de-irrigates some of the highest quality farmland in the world. This move by the Administration simply ensures that the process of revising the rules governing Delta water operations will be less vulnerable to regulatory abuse,” said Tom Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association.

“Implementation of the Endangered Species Act can be better for both species and people, and the president’s action moves us in that direction,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said. “It’s time to grow beyond the culture of conflict that has governed California water for too long. We need streamlined solutions that benefit species and that benefit both the farmers who provide California-grown food and farm products and everyone who depends on those products.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.

Phone: 916-561-5550

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