By Tim Hearden
The Golden State’s largest ranchers’ organization will have its hands full in 2014, waging a full-court press against state and federal regulations that could complicate the work of producers.
The California Cattlemen’s Association will continue to fight proposed federal protections for the Yosemite toad while advocating against a statewide listing for the gray wolf, said Tim Koopmann, a Sunol, Calif., rancher and the organization’s president.
“It’s debatable whether California even had a wolf population to begin with,” Koopmann told the Capital Press during a cattlemen’s dinner here Jan. 4.
“Our top goals are to continue to try to bring common sense to Sacramento and Washington, D.C., including by working with folks on water issues in the state and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on listing of endangered species,” he said.
Koopmann was appearing with CCA first vice president Rich Ross and executive vice president Billy Gatlin at the annual dinner, which raises nearly $20,000 a year in scholarships for high school and college students pursuing careers in agriculture, organizers say.
The CCA’s push comes after a relatively successful 2013 legislative session in which several of its proposals won approval, including a bill by Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, that will enable district attorneys to seek jail time and fines of as much as $5,000 for livestock thefts and give the money to the state Bureau of Livestock Identifications to investigate cases.
The Fish and Wildlife Service took comments this summer on protections for the yellow-legged frog and Yosemite toad. The CCA voiced concerns about the listings, which would affect more than 2 million acres of private and public land and could lead to restrictions on grazing, according to Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.
Wildlife officials in California appear to be preparing to deny state protections for the gray wolf, which was requested by the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups.
Among other issues the CCA will be working on this year, according to Koopmann:
• The state Water Resources Control Board may impose a requirement that water runoff from rangelands be monitored for pollutants. Public meetings on the statewide Grazing Regulatory Action Project are expected to be held early this year.
• The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has offered a draft plan for managing the greater sage grouse, a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Some groups have complained that ranchers would be disproportionately harmed by grazing restrictions.
• The CCA is still working with researchers at the University of California-Davis to develop a vaccine for foothill abortion, a tick-borne malady that kills calf fetuses. Koopmann said a vaccine is still 18 months to two years away.
• The CCA will try again this year to enact legislation making it legal for 53-foot livestock semitrailers most commonly used in the livestock industry to travel on California’s interstates and major highways. The industry has been confined to using 48-foot semitrailers.