The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year authorizing legislation that sets policy for an array of agricultural and food programs. The farm bill is renewed every five years, with some exceptions.
The current farm bill, The Agricultural Act of 2014, was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 7, 2014, and allows for continuation of key programs for specialty crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implements the many programs funded by the farm bill.
Farm bill programs of interest to the almond industry include:
Tree Assistance Program (TAP) — Qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers who experienced losses from natural disasters that occurred on or after Oct. 1, 2011, can sign up for TAP. TAP provides financial assistance to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) — Funding to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices that conserve scarce water resources, reduce erosion on fields and other conservation efforts is available through EQIP.
National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program — Funding is available for USDA-certified organic producers and handlers for certification-related expenses they incur from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014. Payments cover up to 75% of an individual producer’s or handler’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years. Signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, it aims to ensure the US food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. The ABC has worked with industry members to craft comments on several issues of importance to the California Almond industry. They include:
Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food
Standard for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption
Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals
Designation of High-Risk Foods for Tracing
Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals
Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration
Governor Brown’s Drought Task Force, composed of the Governor’s Office, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Department of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board and Office of Emergency Services, publishes a “Weekly Drought Brief” that highlights current conditions, key action items from the past week, and links for more information.
Current Reservoir Conditions
Current reservoir levels in terms of capacity and percent of historical average can be found here.
Current Regional Snowpack
Check here for the most recent snowpack reports during the reporting season.
Winter storms have allowed the California Department of Water Resources to increase its estimated State Water Project water delivery allocation for most recipients to 45% of requests up from the 30% estimate in February, but note this number can change dependent upon water conditions.
Bureau of Reclamation announces initial 2016 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors.
Agricultural water service contractors North-of-Delta are allocated 100 percent of their contract supply.
M&I water service contractors North-of-Delta are allocated 100 percent of their contract supply.
Sacramento River Settlement Contractors are allocated 100 percent of their contract supply.
The Contra Costa Water District, which receives water directly from the Delta, is allocated 100 percent of its contract supply.
Agricultural water service contractors South-of-Delta are allocated 5 percent of their contract supply.
M&I water service contractors South-of-Delta are allocated 55 percent of their historic use.
San Joaquin River Exchange and Settlement Contractors are allocated 100 percent of their contract supply.
Wildlife refuges (Level 2) North- and South-of-Delta are allocated 100 percent of their contract supply.
Friant Division Contractors
Pursuant to Reclamation’s March 18 notification to Friant Division contractors and based upon Millerton Lake storage and current and forecasted hydrologic conditions in the Upper San Joaquin River Basin, the Friant Division allocation is 30 percent of Class 1 supplies.
In addition, an Uncontrolled Season supply of 100,000 acre-feet and Unreleased Restoration Flow supply related to the San Joaquin River Restoration Program of 85,000 acre-feet are being made available as blocks that need to be scheduled and delivered by May 1 and May 15 respectively to avert flood management concerns.
Eastside Water Service Contractors
Eastside water service contractors (Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District and Stockton East Water District) will receive 0 percent of their contract supply due to a lack of available CVP supplies from New Melones Reservoir.