Are you a groundwater user?

In 2014, the California legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which was then signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.  This legislation triggers a more intense and hands on approach to groundwater management at the local level and requires cooperation and participation by all water users including agricultural groundwater pumpers.

The Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation will be hosting three public outreach meetings to make groundwater pumpers aware of the legislation and the impacts of SGMA implementation to your farming operations and to Butte County. The meetings are as follows:

Monday, June 13, 2016 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Chico Masonic Lodge
1110 W East Avenue
Chico, CA

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Durham Memorial Hall
9319 Midway
Durham, CA

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 from 9:00 – 11:00 AM
Gridley Fairgrounds, Butte Hall
199 E Hazel Street
Gridley, CA

The content of each meeting will be the same requiring you to only attend one event. In addition, at the Durham meeting   Christina Buck, PhD, will present her findings regarding the updated Butte County Water Inventory & Analysis report that she has coordinated with Davids’ Engineering.

Michael Harty of Kearns and West will serve as the meeting facilitator, guiding the public through the SGMA language and purpose as well as fielding your questions.

“How do I know if I am a groundwater pumper?” If you use a well to irrigate your crops/pasture or use a well for your home, you are a groundwater pumper.

You attendance at one of these three meetings is crucial to learning and understanding how SGMA will have a bearing on your groundwater use. Please do not hesitate to contact our office at (530) 533-1473 or email Colleen Cecil at if you have questions. You can also contact Vickie Newlin at Butte County Water and Resource Conservation directly at (530) 538-2179.

SGMA and IA meeting advertisement

Summer Barbecue 2016

The 2016 Butte County Farm Bureau Summer Barbecue is right around the corner! Now is the time to get your tickets and make plans to attend. You can return the ticket order form on the invitation you received in the mail or you can call the office and order your tickets over the phone. (530) 533-1472

 Don’t delay- we will have a full house with lots of fun to be had!

See you on Thursday, June 16th at the Summer Barbecue!

What is the BRCP?

Editorial from the Executive Director…

For almost nine years, the Butte County Association of Governments (BCAG) has been working on behalf of the cities of Biggs, Chico, Gridley and Oroville and Butte County to develop the Butte Regional Conservation Plan (BRCP.) The BRCP is a federal Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and a state Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP). It reportedly is supposed to provide streamlined state and federal endangered species act and wetlands permitting for transportation projects, land development and other covered activities over the 50 year term of the state and federal issued permits. It also provides comprehensive species, wetlands and ecosystem conservation and contributes to the recovery of endangered species within Butte County.

The BRCP Formal Public Draft is currently closing in on the conclusion of its 180 plus day public comment period that ends on June 8, 2016. The Butte County Farm Bureau would encourage you to consider sending in your comments about this environmentally motivated plan.

The plan will be executed through in perpetuity contracts with land owners who voluntarily wish to sell a conservation easement on their land, or sell their land in fee title for conservation purposes.

The drafted plan identifies an estimated $377 million dollars in plan costs. Of these costs $139 million will come from direct mitigation or developer fees to carry out the program. The remaining $238 million required for acquisition of land for the conservation portion of the plan to be executed will be derived from state and federal grants according to the plans draft. This places the burden directly on tax payers. Moreover the plan was written using figures generated in 2011 and does not take into account inflation and the 50 year term of the plan and the likely increase in costs.

What the plan draft does not tell you is who it will impact and how. The Butte County Farm Bureau believes the BRCP will create unnecessary permanent burdens on our most valuable ag land and for that reason should not be approved in its current form.

The written plan is more than 1000 double sided pages and is not written in a format designed to be casual reading for the general person in my opinion. BCAG has created some easier to understand fact sheets that you will find at that we encourage you read.

We would also encourage you to read the Butte County Farm Bureau comment letter we submitted on the Formal Public Draft of the Butte Regional Conservation Plan. Read it here. Have questions about our letter? Feel free to call me at (530) 533-1473 or send me an email.

If you wish to submit your own letter, you must do so by June 8, 2016 to the following:
Chris Devine, Planning Manager
Butte County Association of Governments
326 Huss Drive, Suite 150
Chico, CA 95928
Fax (530) 879-2444

Thanks for reading!

Colleen Cecil has served as the Executive Director of the Butte County Farm Bureau since 2006. As Executive Director, Colleen advocates for the more than 1300 family members of the Butte County Farm Bureau on issues such as land use, rural crime, and water and manages the day-to day operations of the organization with guidance from the 26-member volunteer Board of Directors. 

Controlling Winged Water-Primrose

Best Management Practices for the control of Winged Water-Primrose (WWP)

Winged Water-Primrose (Ludwigia decurrens) is a non-native weed that was identified in Butte County rice fields in 2011. In February of 2016, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Division of Plant Health’s pest ratings made the determination that WWP is an “A” rated weed pest and a “P” rated seed pest (prohibited). These ratings have the potential to impact certified rice fields and the movement of seed as well as the export of rice to other countries.

After the initial identification of Winged Water-Primrose in Butte County, it was determined by Farm Advisors and the Agricultural Commissioner that the distribution extends over several square miles. Most infestations are along borders of rice fields and irrigation and drainage canals.

WWP flowers and produces seed capsules at every leaf node starting when the plant is small (~ 1 foot tall). Seed capsules contain thousands of seeds which are viable before the light brown seed coat is formed. Early monitoring and control are essential. The seed capsules can float on the water surface and are readily dispersed along irrigation canals. The seed can germinate in shallow water or moist soil. Based on field observations WWP will germinate from mid-May through mid-September. Season long vigilance is required. Once established, WWP will survive in a flooded rice field and set seed. Also, part of the WWP root system floats in the water. Root segments will quickly produce new plants. Care must be taken when physically removing the plants to ensure that root segments are not allowed to move in the water canals. This suggests that mowing of levees as a means of control may potentially increase dispersal of this weed. Field observations also indicate that WWP is spread by tillage and harvest equipment.

Results from UC Researchers Albert Fischer and Jim Eckert preliminary research on this weed: “Behavior of Ludwigia decurrens (winged primrose willow) and herbicide options for control” are available via the UC Rice Blog .

In an effort to manage and control WWP and stop the spread, the Agricultural Commissioner is requesting that Best Management Practices (BMP’s) be followed. The BMP’s were developed by stakeholders including UC Extension, Rice Experiment Station, irrigation districts and rice industry representatives. The ultimate goal for the the Winged-Water Primrose project is eradication of this invasive weed, however, in the short term our goal is to “manage and control” the weed.


Best Management Practices for the control of Winged Water-Primrose (WWP)

1. Monitoring and Surveillance of WWP:
a. Staff from the Agricultural Commissioner’s office and Rice Experiment Station will
conduct routine surveys of fields and ditch banks beginning in mid-April through
September. We ask for your full cooperation with this project, including easy
access to the fields in the control zone.
b. Any potential or suspected WWP locations should be reported to the Agricultural
Commissioner at 530-538-7381 or to the Rice Experiment Station at 530-868-5481.
This process will allow for verification, monitoring, and recording of WWP sites.

2. Use of Herbicides to control WWP: Herbicides options may vary depending on the location
of the weed (e.g. field edge, in the field, production system, ditch bank etc.). Follow all
herbicide label requirements, the application of herbicides must comply with the label for the
site to be treated, rates, and timing. The UC research report mentioned on the first page
presents results on herbicide efficacies to control WWP.
a. Treatment of WWP sites will be done in cooperation with participants including
confirmation with grower, land owner or agency.

3. Water Management: Maintain continuous flood and recommended water levels in fields
(checks) that have been found with WWP. Leather’s method, pin point flood, dry down weed control techniques provide suitable conditions for the growth of WWP.

4. Rogueing: When needed, rogue WWP plants, as well as floating shoots, and place in a
plastic bag at site. Promptly dispose plastic bags containing WWP at designated dumpster
at BUCRA “Riceton” facility (8am-3pm) or at the landfill. Do not carry the rogued WWP around in the pickup for a few days. Circumstances where rogueing may be preferred include: infestation across a field, organic rice fields or if plants have already produced seed pods. Herbicide treatment does not appear to kill the seeds. The plant may be dead but the seeds remain viable. Care should be taken to remove all of the floating root system when rogueing to discourage vegetative propagation.

5. Burning: The Agricultural Commissioner has contacted the Butte County Air Quality
Management District (BCAQMD) to prioritize fields/checks/ditches and drains containing
WWP for burning. BCAQMD burn permits are required and air quality restrictions must be

6. Tillage and harvest equipment: All equipment that has entered WWP areas or sites, should be cleaned (washed) at site prior to the movement out of the WWP area/site. It is
recommended to till and/or harvest the fields where WWP has been found last.

Certified Rice Seed: Growers should only plant certified rice seed, since the pest is not permitted in seed production fields or in any class of certified rice seed. Farm saved seed originating in the control zone is not recommended. Varieties of rice that are not in the official seed certification program should not be used if the seed source is from impacted areas.

 A map of confirmed WWP sites/locations and pictures of what WWP looks like at different growth stages can be found here. We will provide udpated WWP information and links at our website. Should you have any questions, please contact Robert Hill, Evan Padgett, or myself at 530-538-7381.

This information was provide by Louie Mendoza, Butte County Ag Commissioner to all property owners and operators  who farm rice on April 28, 2016 .  You can find the full report with additional images on the Butte County Ag Commissioner Website. 

BIT Workshop June 1st

BIT Program Update on June 1

The California High Patrol will provide an overview on the Basic Inspection of Terminals (BIT) Program to Butte County Farm Bureau members on Wednesday, June 1 at 12 PM at the BCFB office in Oroville. Lunch will be provided for those who RSVP their attendance. A law signed in 2013 approved changes to the BIT program that went into effect on January 1, 2016.

The new changes include the addition of a class of vehicles not previously included in the rule; category (J) commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) between 10,001-26,000 pounds. This means that standard box pickup trucks or pickups that have an “altered” bed (flat bed, utility body, etc) with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds that are used commercially (associated with commerce or business) will be subject to the Motor Carrier Permit program which will then trigger the BIT program. Operators of category (J) vehicles will also be required to track hours of duty status as well as 90 day vehicle inspection records.

Category (K) includes any commercial motor vehicle (as defined in CVC subdivision (b) of Section 15210) with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds or a commercial motor vehicle of any GVWR towing a vehicle with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds. If you use a vehicle for your farming, ranching or affiliated business that meets the description above for Categories (J) or (K), please plan on attending this upcoming workshop. Call the BCFB office at (530) 533-1473 to RSVP for the meeting. There is no charge to attend for Farm Bureau members.

Photo courtesy of Holly Foster, Foster Ranch

Welcome to The Farm Shovel

Thanks for taking a minute to check out The Farm Shovel! We are excited at the Butte County Farm Bureau to add this new blog to our website, and use it as a place to share timely information, newsworthy stories and the occasional editorial about the current events in our local agricultural community.

We’ll offer updates and announcements on benefits of Farm Bureau membership in Butte County to current members and encourage those of you digging around the chance to join us.

When we post a new update to The Farm Shovel, we’ll be sure to alert you of them on our Facebook page and on our Twitter feed so be sure to follow us if you don’t already. You will also find  links to The Farm Shovel in our e-newsletter, The Farm Wire. Sign up for the e-newsletter here.

There are many ways to get information these days. We think this format will offer a chance to provide a few more details that are often too extensive for an email newsletter or social media post. And we will be able to share up-to-the minute news that doesn’t make our bi-monthly newspaper deadlines that members get in the mail.

Who knows? You may choose to bury the information you read on The Farm Shovel but then again maybe you’ll unearth something you need to know? We just look forward to helping you shovel through the mountains of information on your desk and pickup truck dash. Let’s get to digging!