Newsletter for February 22, 2019

Newsletter for February 22, 2019


Ott Selected To Lead The Nevada Department of Agriculture

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that he has approved the appointment of Jennifer Ott to be director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture. She was selected by the Nevada Board of Agriculture following an interview conducted in a public meeting of the Board on February 14. Ott’s first day as director will be March 4, 2019.

“I am proud to approve Jennifer Ott to lead our state’s Department of Agriculture, and I want to thank the Board of Agriculture for their work in identifying our next director,” Governor Sisolak said. “Jennifer brings many years of experience in the agriculture industry, in addition to an outstanding background in leadership and fiscal management. She will make a superb addition to my cabinet, and I look forward to working with her to promote Nevada’s agricultural industries.”

Nevada Farm Bureau President, Bevan Lister offered his congratulations to Ott for her appointment and also expressed appreciation to Governor Sisolak and the Nevada Board of Agriculture.

“We are pleased to have this important position filled with a qualified person who is connected to our state’s agriculture.” Lister said. “We are looking forward to building on our working relationship with Jennifer and enhancing the communications with the Nevada Department of Agriculture for the benefit of our state’s farm and ranch families.”

Jennifer Ott has worked as the administrator of the Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industry Division since January 2018, where she oversaw all plant programs in the state. Previously, she served as operations director for the Desert Farming Initiative at the University of Nevada, Reno. Ott has also served in marketing roles for various chemical and agricultural businesses and began her career as a chemist in multiple laboratories. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Nevada, Reno.


Nevada Farm Bureau Group Wraps Up A Successful Trip To Washington, D.C.

In spite of winter weather conditions that shut down the nation’s capital for one day, Nevada Farm Bureau leaders were able to work around the brief delay and held meetings with staff members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation to discuss priority issues like improved natural resource management for federal lands in the state. Nevada Farm Bureau President Bevan Lister, Vice President Darrell Pursel and White Pine County Farm Bureau President Tom Baker were in Washington, D.C., February 20-23. Pursel and Baker each serve on special issue advisory committees of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). Pursel serving on the issue advisory committee for water and Baker on the federal lands issue advisory committee.

These two committees held meetings to cover Farm Bureau policy and line out plans for issues of concern.

With these AFBF committee meetings the Nevada Farm Bureau group combined the trip to meet with the new natural resources and agricultural staff members of Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Senator Jackie Rosen, Congresswoman Dina Titus and Congressman Steven Horsford.

During meetings with the Congressional staff, Nevada Farm Bureau highlighted the necessity of greater attention to pre-fire suppression of building fuel loads on Nevada’s federally-managed rangelands. They also covered the need for progress on appropriate management of Wild Horses that are over-populating the ranges.


Key Water Legislative Bills Set To Be Heard In Assembly Committee, Feb. 27

Reports indicate that the Nevada Legislative Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee will be conducting hearings on two important legislative proposals, Wednesday, February 27. These two bills,AB 30- and AB 51 are pre-filed bills, proposed by the Nevada State Engineer’s office.

AB 30 seeks to grant the State Engineer to work around the current protection of state water law for prior appropriated water rights and grant approval to later applications even if there is a potential conflict that would impact the existing water rights. The bill says the if there is water available for appropriation (without specifically indicating that there would be enough water to meet the application) a 3-M plan (monitoring, management and mitigation plan) could be used to negate the current protections of existing water rights, which would require the State Engineer to reject the application.

Nevada Farm Bureau is opposed to AB 30 and will be stressing that the current law and protection of existing water rights needs to be preserved. We are opposed to changing state law to authorize the State Engineer to stop following prior appropriation principles.

The State Engineer’s philosophy is characterized as a need to provide more flexibility for allowing the ability to grant water right applications in spite of the potential conflicts that might come from approving these applications. A key question in response raises the risk of where the boundaries might be if there isn’t the backstop of recognizing protection of existing rights?

AB 51, if approved, would grant the State Engineer authority to adopt regulations for the purpose of implementing “conjunctive” management of waters from the total sources of water. The outline for the possible approach that regulations would take mirror the actual regulations that have been proposed for the State Engineer’s management of the conjunctive management for the

Humboldt River area of the state and the conflicts that have been identified for groundwater pumping impacting availability of water for senior surface water right owners.

Nevada Farm Bureau opposed the proposed regulations that were offered on the basis of Farm Bureau policy that the State Engineer didn’t have the authority to take the approach being pursued through the proposed regulatory system. AB 51 seeks to have the Nevada Legislature weigh in, granting the State Engineer such authority.

The plan would be based on mitigation measures to resolve the conflicts by requiring less senior water right owners (groundwater right owners) to pay a fee or find other water resources to pay senior surface water right owners to make up for the impacts that they are being affected by with less water that the conflict has caused. This attempt works to avoid the use of the current law that requires curtailment of junior water rights to resolve conflicts with senior water rights.

Based on Nevada Farm Bureau policy, we will also be opposing AB 51 as it is written. We strongly encourage you to make contact with members of the Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee – listed below. Click on their names and your email system should be able to get you started with your email to the members…

Nevada Legislature Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee:

Heidi Swank, Chair

Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, Vice Chair

Alex Assefa

Maggie Carlton

Lesley Cohen

Ozzie Fumo

Sarah Peters

Howard Watts

John Ellison

Alexis Hansen

Robin Titus

Jim Wheeler

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