Weekly Newsletter For December 17, 2018

Nevada Farm Bureau Newsletter For The Week Of December 17, 2018

Gearing Up For 2019 Nevada Legislative Session

The 80th Session of the Nevada Legislature is scheduled to begin on Monday, February 4, 2019. Nevada Farm Bureau is preparing to represent the organization’s member-developed policy on a daily basis, during the 120-day process. We look forward to keeping Farm Bureau members up-to-date with the level of information necessary for effective engagement in making timely connection with your elected representatives.

Earlier, we reported the committee chairs who have been named by Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson. Full committee membership have been identified since that earlier post and we would like to share here the membership of a couple of the more priority committees we will be working with:

Senate Natural Resources Committee: Chair, Senator Melanie Scheible of District 9 in Clark County; Vice Chair, Senator Chris Brooks of District 3 in Clark County; Senator Dallas Harris of District 11 in Clark County; Senator Pete Goicoechea of District 19, which covers most of rural Nevada; and, Senator Ira Hansen of District 14, which also covers a significant portion of rural Nevada.

Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining: Chair, Assemblywoman Heidi Swank of District 16 in Clark County; Vice Chair, Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod of District 34 in Clark County; Assemblywoman Maggie Carlson of District 14 in Clark County; Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo of District 21 in Clark County; Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen of District 29 in Clark County; Assemblyman Alexandar Assefa of District 42 in Clark County; Assemblyman Howard Watts III of District 15 in Clark County; Assemblywoman Sarah Peters of District 24 in Washoe County; Assemblyman Jim Wheeler of District 39 in Douglas/Lyon/Storey Counties; Assemblywoman Robin Titus of District 38 in Churchill/Lyon Counties; Assemblyman John Ellison of District 33 in Elko/Eureka/Lincoln and White Pine Counties; and, Assemblywoman Alexis Hansen of District 32 in Esmeralda/Humboldt/Lander/Mineral/Nye/Pershing and Washoe Counties.

Water Remains As Priority Issue For Farm Bureau Attention

Water-related legislative proposals were at the top of the list for Nevada Farm Bureau in the last session and continue to hold center stage for 2019. The set of Assembly pre-filed bills for the 80th Session includes several bills dealing with water and water rights. AB 30  is another chapter in a continued effort that played out over the course of the 2017 Legislative Session, involving the concept of mitigation. While spending the entire last session attempting to find a workable approach the idea fell short of gaining passage.

AB 30 for the 2019 Nevada Legislature is being offered by the State Engineer and has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining. The Legislative Counsel’s Digest opening sentence for the bill’s explanation probably gets to the heart of the matter for the legislative proposal better than anything else we’ve seen…

“Existing law requires the State Engineer to reject an application for a permit to appropriate water to beneficial use if there is no unappropriated water at the source of supply or if the proposed use or change of use of the water conflicts with existing rights or protectable interests in existing domestic wells or threatens to prove detrimental to the public interest (NRS 533.37).”

AB 30, if passed as written, would provide the State Engineer’s office the option of ignoring the provision of law that protects existing water rights. While Farm Bureau policy provides for a workable agreement between existing water right owners and those who are seeking to secure water rights that might impact the existing water right, the provisions of “b” and “c” in the details of Section 1 of the bill provide that State Engineer may include in the options for going forward something other than the agreement of the impacted water right owner.

Subsection 1, sub “b” provides for the State Engineer to overlook the conflict and impact through the use of monitoring, management and mitigation (3M) plan. This is something that has already been attempted by the State Engineer in several contentious areas where more recent water applicants are seeking to over-run the rights of existing water right owners. The use of this self-interpreted authority by the State Engineer hasn’t gotten to the point of fully being adopted, without court intervention – but, passage of AB 30 could wire in the results to accomplish this outcome.

Subsection 1, sub “c” provides that the conflict for the loss of water that is connected to a more senior water right owner might be resolved by “Any other plan to avoid or eliminate the conflict or replenish the source of supply impacted or depleted by the conflict.”

Subsection 2 of the bill would allow for the State Engineer to approve of the conflicting application as long as the State Engineer “determines that a proposal submitted pursuant to subsection 1 will avoid or eliminate the conflict…”

This legislation will receive a great deal of attention as legislators give it their deliberation. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

The present view, we have going into the conversation about the bill, is that working around the conflict and the prior appropriations principle should only be considered with the acceptance for an agreement by the impacted existing water right owner(s).

Farm Bureau Provides Input For Development Of Nevada Sage Grouse Habitat Mitigation Regulations

The federal agencies (Bureau of Land Management – BLM – and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) lost their ability to require compensatory mitigation this past summer, when new policy was adopted that prevented them from forcing those using BLM lands to carry out mitigation for Sage Grouse habitat as a requirement to use the land. The new policy does allow for voluntary mitigation and following a state requirement.

The Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Council is working on developing a Nevada regulation for the purpose of requiring mitigation to offset human disturbances in Sage Grouse habitat areas. Anthropogenic disturbances like power lines, roads and some elements of mining are the main targets for the regulatory control, seeking the use of the state’s Conservation Credit System as the tool for resolving these negative impacts. Those who are having the impact would be required to purchase conservation credits that are being generated by participating private landowners who have agreed to participate in the Conservation Credit System by managing their land in Sage Grouse habitat for the benefit of the bird.

Nevada Farm Bureau policy supports the implementation of the Nevada Sage Grouse Conservation Plan, developed in 2014, which also includes the requirement of Net Conservation Gain and use of the Conservation Credit System.

This support was one of the points made in the comments that Nevada Farm Bureau noted. The statement and written public input for developing the regulation also noted that the land use plans being rewritten after the 2015 version of the federal agency’s conservation plan were installed, still don’t actually use the Nevada Conservation Plan, as it was written. The rewrite amendments that are nearing their completion have made some adjustments to move closer to the state plan, but still aren’t matching up with the Nevada Plan.

One thing that will likely be embraced by the BLM, from the state plan, will be the ability to use the state regulation on mandatory mitigation.

Farm Bureau is urging the Sage Grouse Ecosystem Council to take charge of negotiating the necessary agreements with the federal agencies to use the mitigation program in order to get more of the Nevada Plan instituted and also to provide protections for private property owners who are involved in the Conservation Credit System. Provisions of the Endangered Species Act include protections of assurance, in the event that the conservation efforts being carried out on private property result in greater exposure to listed species taking advantage of the enhancement work that has been carried out.

Another regulation workshop has been scheduled for Winnemucca (Humboldt County Courthouse – Room 201) on December 20 at 11 a.m. Farm Bureau members are encouraged to participate and offer thoughts on how to best address the state’s regulation.

Prior to the final adoption of a temporary regulation, an Executive Order (#2018-32), issued by Governor Brian Sandoval on December 7, 2018 will cover the necessary requirements to use the Conservation Credit System for mitigation offsets to human disturbances that are covered in the Nevada Sage Grouse Conservation Plan.

Humboldt River Basin Meetings Planned – Jan. 15 & 16

The Nevada Division of Water Resources has provided notice that they will be holding a series of public information workshops to share the newest information gathered on the Humboldt River Basin water modeling studies, which are being carried out by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Desert Research

Institute (DRI). These studies are developing the data for what is taking place in three reaches of the Humboldt River and are going to be used in addressing the groundwater and Humboldt River water conflicts. The information presented during the workshops will be dealing with further research that has been done and the findings over the past year.

These public workshop times and locations:

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

9:30 a.m. – Lovelock City Hall (400 14th St) Lovelock, NV

2:00 p.m. – Humboldt County Courthouse – Room 201 (500 West 5th St) Winnemucca, NV

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

9:30 a.m. – Elko County Library (720 Court St) Elko, NV

New Farm Bill Passed

Farm Bureau’s top priority objective for this year – passage of a renewed Farm Bill – has been accomplished with the House voting to go along with the Senate in approving the conference committee report that has been a work in progress over the past couple of months. The House vote of 369 “Yeas” to 47 “Nays” passed on December 12, a day after the Senate passed the conference committee report 87 to 13 on December 11. All of Nevada’s Congressional members voted in favor of passage, sending the newly rewritten Farm Bill to the President’s desk for signature

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall gave this statement on the news of passage…

“Today’s passage of the 2018 farm bill by the House of Representatives, and the Senate’s approval yesterday, is welcome news to America’s farmers and ranchers and the consumers who depend on them for our food, fiber and energy crops.”

“Passage means we are one signature away from renewal of risk management tools, foreign market development and environmental stewardship programs that farmers and ranchers need to survive a prolonged and painful downturn in farm income and be sustainable.”

“Americans from all walks of life will benefit from this farm bill, including consumers, low-income families, seniors and military veterans.”

“We eagerly await the president’s signature on this legislation and we know that Agriculture Secretary Perdue will implement it as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Elko County Designation For Disaster Also Reaches Out To Contiguous Counties

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue has notified Nevada’s Governor, Brian Sandoval that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Elko County as a natural disaster area due to recent drought conditions. Based on this Secretarial disaster designation, farmers and ranchers in the primary county (Elko) and contiguous counties (Nevada counties being Eureka, Humboldt, Lander and White Pine) are eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Services Agency (FSA). There are eligibility requirements to be met and those who are eligible have 8 months from the November 2018 designation to apply for emergency loans. The local FSA offices can best provide details of the programs and potential benefits which might be provided for the disaster assistance that is available

 

Farm Bureau Is Looking Forward To Getting The Rewrite For Wetlands Regulations Moved Forward

Against the backdrop of a couple of other notable important agriculturally-related developments that took place in Washington, D.C. this past week , all of the state Farm Bureau Presidents (including Nevada Farm Bureau President Bevan Lister) had the opportunity to participate in the roll-out of the announcement from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the draft regulations that are being proposed to replace the Obama regulations which sought major expansion for what federal agencies would regulate.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President spoke at the unveiling of the new proposal for the regulations and hit on the message that agriculture seeks clean water and clear understanding for what is being regulated…

“Farmers and ranchers work every day to protect our nation’s waterways and drinking water. For more than five years we have advocated for a new water rule that protects clean water and provides clear rules for people and communities to follow. This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work their land without having to hire an army of lawyers and consultants.”

“We want to protect land and water in the communities where we live and work. Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play. We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common-sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.”

“We appreciate the months of hard work that the administration, especially the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, invested in making sure the new Clean Water Rule was done right. Unlike the 2015 WOTUS rule, this new rule protects our resources, respects the law and provides greater clarity so the agencies and the public can identify regulated federal waterways. We will further analyze this new rule in the coming days and will suggest further refinements during the comment period.”

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