In the weeks since Governor Brown declared a statewide drought emergency on January 17, state and federal officials have launched several efforts to provide assistance to farmers, ranchers, and communities who have been impacted by drought conditions.
Last week, President Obama visited Fresno and announced a drought aid package for California which will provide an additional $100 million in assistance, through the 2014 Farm Bill - Livestock Forage Disaster Program, to California’s livestock producers who have been impacted by the drought crisis. President Obama was joined by Governor Brown and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA has made this a top priority, and plans to have the programs available for sign up by April 15, 2014.
Additional information on the program and how to sign-up can be accessed here.
On the same day the President toured drought-affected areas, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and other entities sponsored a briefing, 2014 Drought - Impacts and Actions: What You Need to Know in Sacramento. Nearly 175 attended the briefing, including RCRC staff, where federal, state and local officials discussed the local impacts the drought is having on the state, ways to effectively manage the crisis and current efforts being undertaken to address the crisis. Panelists included members of the Governor’s Drought Task Force, Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, California Farm Bureau and the Department of Water Resources.
Materials and presentations from the briefing can be accessed here.
As reported in last week’s Barbed Wire, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 which would increase funding for drought assistance programs and provide more flexibility within existing law to deliver water, transfer water, and provide additional emergency funding for water supply projects.
A summary of the bill can be accessed here.
This week, Governor Brown joined Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez to announce legislation to help communities dealing with the impacts of the drought and provide funding to increase local water supplies. The legislation proposes $687.4 million in funding from previously authorized bond funds, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and the General Fund. The bill will, among other things, fund infrastructure grants for local and regional projects that increase local reliability, fund direct expenditures and grants to state and local agencies to improve water use efficiency, fund assistance to disadvantaged communities with groundwater contamination and grants for state and local agencies to implement residential, commercial or institutional water use efficiency projects. General Fund monies will be used, among other things, for the Emergency Drinking Water Fund to address emergency water shortages due to the drought and for food assistance for those impacted by the drought. Several of these proposals included were proposed in the Governor’s January Budget, but will now be expedited.
For additional information, please contact RCRC Legislative Advocate Cyndi Hillery at 916.447.4806 or firstname.lastname@example.org or RCRC Legislative Advocate Kathy Mannion at 916.447.4806 or email@example.com.