At the Capitol, October 2023

USDA to Provide More than $3 Billion to Commodity and Specialty Crop Producers Impact by 2022 Disasters

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced they will provide more than $3 billion to commodity and specialty crop producers impacted by natural disasters in 2022 through the Emergency Relief Program. The program will help offset the financial impacts of crop yield and value losses from qualifying disasters in 2022. To find more information including eligibility requirements and program application, visit the USDA’s Emergency Relief Program 2022 website or contact your local FSA office. Applications will open on Tuesday.

Legislative Year Wrap Up

SB 253 (Weiner) – Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act

Status: Signed into law
Requires partnerships, corporations, LLCs, and other business entities with total annual revenues of $1 billion and that do business in California to publicly disclose to the California Air Resources Board starting in 2026 their scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, and in 2027, their scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions.

AB 363 (Bauer-Kahan) – Bans Consumer Use of Neonic Pesticide

Status: Signed into law
Bans non-agricultural, consumer use of neonicotinoid pesticides by January 1, 2025. Though this is limited to non-agricultural uses, it could impact California agriculture by making it more difficult to combat invasive and destructive pests and diseases.

SB 389 (Allen) – State Water Resources Control Board: Investigation of Water Right

Status: Signed into law
Allows SWRCB to order information regarding water use from any water diverter to verify their water right and determine whether water use aligns with the basis of their water right.

SB 616 (Gonzalez) – Sick Leave Expansion

Status: Signed into law
Increases paid sick leave from current three days/24 hours to five days/40 hours.

AB 1563 (Bennett) – State Water Resources Control Board; Groundwater Well Development

Status: Dead for the year
Prohibits permit approval for a new groundwater well or for alteration of an existing well in critically over drafted water basins without meeting certain criteria.

AB 460 (Bauer-Kahan) – State Water Resources Control Board: Water Rights and Usage

Status: Dead for the year
Expands SWRCB’s authority by allowing it to issue curtailment orders for senior water rights holders and expands the instances in which the board can issue curtailment orders, while depriving water rights holders of due process.

AB 1337 (Wicks) – State Water Resources Control Board: Water Diversion Curtailment

Status: Dead for the year
Allows SWRCB to curtail water rights outside of a drought emergency, including pre-1914 and riparian water rights.

Representative Mike Johnson elected as Speaker of the House

In an unprecedented vote, Kevin McCarthy was removed from his position as Speaker of the House on October 3. More than three weeks later, Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson secured unanimous GOP support and was sworn into the position on October 25 after weeks of stalemate and failed nominations. Relatively unknown to the general public, Speaker Johnson has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2016 and is currently serving his fourth term in the house.

The new leadership reports have noted that funding for Israel, the U.S. Mexico-Border and Ukraine are top priorities — an aid package for Israel passed in the House November 2, but is expected to fail in the Senate. The same day, the Senate passed three appropriations bills which will move to the House — twelve must be passed to fund the government. As it relates to agriculture, the new Speaker recently released a legislative plan indicating he would like to see a House version of the Farm Bill passed in December and a new working group created to resolve issues with the Agriculture Appropriations bill.

It still remains unclear whether Congress will be able to pass a funding bill before November 17 to avoid a government shut down. Although there is more hope to pass a funding bill now that the Speaker position has been filled, some lawmakers have indicated a need to pass another stopgap bill should Congress be unable to come to an agreement.

New Crop Insurance Options from the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA)

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced improvements to crop insurance options for small and diversified farmers through the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WRFP) and Micro Farm insurance plans. Substantial changes include an increase in coverage levels by up to 22 percent, allowing more customizable coverage for producers, an expansion in eligibility, and more affordability.

Improvements to WFRP for the 2024 policy year include:

  • Allowing all eligible producers to qualify for 80% and 85% coverage levels.
  • Allowing producers to purchase catastrophic coverage level policies for individual crops with WFRP.
  • Expanding yield history to a 10-year maximum (from 4 years) for all crops not covered by another federal crop insurance policy.
  • Making the policy more affordable for single commodity producers.
  • Allowing producers to customize their coverage by choosing whether WFRP will consider other federal crop insurance policies as primary insurance when calculating premium and revenue to count during claim time.

Improvements to Micro Farm for the 2024 policy year include:

  • Moving the sales closing date to a less busy time of year to help agents dedicate time to marketing the program. This is important specifically for producers that are purchasing Micro Farm for the first time as it provides additional time for agents to assist growers with important risk management decisions.
  • Allowing producers to purchase other Federal crop insurance with Micro Farm.
  • Allowing vertically integrated entities to be eligible for Micro Farm.
  • Making the Expanding Operations feature available with Micro Farm.

More information can be found at or by contacting the RMA Regional Office responsible for your area.

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