Can we start 2020 over?

By Colleen Cecil, Executive Director
May/June 2020
Butte County Farm Bureau News, Page 2

Anyone else ready for a 2020 do over? I usually don’t give much thought to what I am going to write about in my May/June column. It’s always going to be all the great reasons why you must attend the Butte County Farm Bureau Summer Barbecue. That is why I am sad to have to write this column for this issue. It is in this column that I must announce that the Butte County Farm Bureau has made the difficult decision to cancel the June 18th Summer Barbecue as a result of this pandemic and our States shelter in place order.

may june farm news

While I am hopeful that by the time you read this, the Governor has laid out a timeline for opening up our state, we know that large gatherings are going to be discouraged for a while. We are however hopeful that by the time we are wrapping up the 2020 harvest, we’ll be able to gather again and celebrate bountiful crops, good health and see all your beautiful faces. Stay tuned for that.

We are also saddened to hear that the Silver Dollar Fair was also a victim of COVID-19. But if ever there was a brilliant recovery after falling down, it’s the support of the community and Rob Ramay at BidCal who went to work to make sure that the Jr. Livestock Auction would happen. Of course, in a virtual manner. These same kids who will market their junior livestock projects online will also have the chance to participate in a virtual evaluation of their livestock through the Butte Stock Show, a virtual livestock show, that is being coordinated by Dr. Celina Phillips and Taylor Lacey.

With no Silver Dollar Fair to attend, how do I support these great kids? I am so glad you asked. If you want to support the Butte Stock Show, you can write a check to the Butte Ag Foundation, write Butte Stock Show in the memo line and mail to Butte Ag Foundation, 2580 Feather River Blvd., Oroville, CA 95965. Donations to the Butte Stock show will be used to pay the cost associated with the online show program and ensure awards are available, just like the fair.

If you wish to buy an animal, then visit The bidding starts on May 16th and closes on May 21st. But don’t wait till then to visit Visit now and make sure you have registered and created your online account. Bid early and bid often. Resale and processing options will be just like the fair normally offers.

Lastly, we encourage you visit  and look for the COVID-19 Ag Industry link on the homepage. There you will find the most current information available for use by farmers and ranchers as it related to navigating the COVID-19 crisis on your farms and ranchers. Information for Small Business Administration, Public Health, CDFA, Governor’s Office, OSHA, USDA, it’s all there and it is updated as information becomes available. It is impossible to keep up on the massive amount of information that comes out daily so we are grateful that CFBF is keeping it all in one place. Another great reason to be a member wouldn’t you agree?

Farm Bureau On Our Side

By Walt Stile
March/April Butte County Farm News

I don’t know about you, but when I started farming, I spent most of my time in the orchard.  During my childhood, I had always spent my summer vacations working on the family farm, leading up to and through harvest, before heading back to school.  When I made my decision to farm full time, it was an easy decision. I figured I could have summer vacation all year long.


As the years have gone by, I’ve found that I spend more and more time away from the place that I love. Instead I’m behind a computer screen trying, in vain, to be compliant with all the government regulations.  Heck, it’s gotten so bad that I had to get an office so that I would have a place to store the countless forms and documents I need just incase some government official should knock on my door demanding any number of documents which I am now required to have on hand.

I use to think that I could solve all the worlds problems just spending the day on a tractor. Now, if I even get to operate a piece of equipment, my mind is troubled, as I keep wondering what new law or regulation have I inadvertently violated today.  My mind is a clutter of acronyms:  SGMA, FSMA, NMP, SVWQC, DPR, CUPA, SALC, BIT and WOTUS and a whole host of others.  I dare anyone to tell me that they can traverse this current maze of regulations or the ones coming down the pipeline. No longer can we just go about our business and farm or ranch the way our forefathers did.

Thankfully, we have Farm Bureau on our side vigorously defending our right to earn a living.  Through courses Farm Bureau offers, we can be educated of filing procedures, deadlines and other onerous regulations; avoiding costly fines, or worse yet, expensive legal battles. Farm Bureau also educates lawmakers and lobbies to protect the rights we hold dearly, locally and at both the state and federal Level.

Locally, we have tailgate meetings, with among others, CHP and the county agriculture department, where you can ask questions one on one to address a specific concern.  Recently, Farm Bureau has teamed up with AgSafe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the agricultural community with resources to help navigate laws and regulations we now face. With a Farm Bureau membership and a dedicated phone number, I get answers to questions concerning worker safety, human resources, pesticide compliance and food safety.

But don’t think that’s all Farm Bureau does.  As a member of this community Butte County Farm Bureau, like you, gives back to the community that supports us. When the fires struck Paradise, it was Farm Bureau that rose to the challenge, suppling feed and fencing for displaced animals.  In March, we will have our annual Drive Thru Tri-Tip dinner with proceeds going for scholarships for students interested in an Ag education. In addition, we sponsor the Agribee™, a spelling bee with agricultural words and defintions for 4th and 5th graders. Butte County Farm Bureau also supports The Big Harvest, Common Threads North, Farm City Celebration, Sierra Oro Farm Trail, Butte County 4-H and FFA.

Another concern we all face is the increase in rural crime.  How often have you arrived to your property to find equipment missing?  Butte County Farm Bureau in conjunction with the Sheriff’s office and Chico Farm and Orchard have invested in SmartWaterCSI™, an invisible liquid that Farm Bureau members can apply to their property, which is only visible with a special ultra violet light.  This liquid has a uniquely coded DNA which can identify the true owner.  If you are a current ag member of the Butte County Farm Bureau and haven’t picked up your SmartWaterCSI kit yet, please do. This is a great opportunity to recover stolen property and get it returned.

If you’re already a member of Farm Bureau, we thank you! As a member, you are already familiar with all the hard work that is being done locally and at the state and federal levels to advocate and educate for a profession we hold deal to our hearts.  If you’re not a Farm Bureau member, you need to ask yourself, why not? If your answer is I’m too small and only use labor contractors, think again.  Thanks to AB 5, you may not be able to insulate yourself from employee/employer liability by using a labor contractor.  Join Farm Bureau today and get the facts!

Editorial: Tuscan Water District and Election 2020

By Colleen Cecil
January /February Editorial
Butte County Farm Bureau News 

Tuscan Water District
Maybe you have heard about it. Maybe you haven’t. If you are a groundwater user – agricultural and/or domestic – in the Vina or Butte Sub Basins of Butte County then you should probably make yourself aware. This is a necessary and important step in ensuring groundwater reliability for future generations in Butte County to be able to live and farm.

The Tuscan Water District is being formed to create an organization that can and will represent all groundwater dependent landowners, to be able to preserve and protect agricultural and domestic water supplies in the rural areas of the Vina and Butte sub basins and meet the sustainability goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Through the Butte Local Agency Formation Commission, a process to form the district will be by a landowner-voter petition. The proposed Tuscan Water District will include more than 94,000 acres. This will encompass from the Tehama County line south to the Western Canal Service area; the eastern boundary is Highway 99 and the City of Chico corporate boundary and the western boundary generally following the Sacramento River, Big Chico Creek, M and T Ranch, Llano Seco Ranch Water District and Reclamation District 2106. In total the district will be approximately 147 square miles.

If you are one of the 52,000 acres within the proposed district boundary that have already lent support to this effort, I am not telling you anything you don’t already know. Thank you to those who have already voiced and demonstrated support. If you are part of the 42,000 acres that have not given your support, I encourage you to ask the questions and learn about the Tuscan Water District formation process.


The actual application for the district formation has not been filed yet. It is slated to happen in early 2020. For more than two years now, upwards of 50 landowners have been meeting quarterly to get our community to where we are today. Preparations are underway to file the necessary paperwork.

Many of you have likely had personal phone calls or in-person meetings with Rich McGowan, Ed McLaughlin, Darren Rice or Todd Turley. These gentlemen have been pounding pavement, dirt roads and orchard rows talking to and educating you and your neighbors about the importance of forming this district. If you have not heard from them yet, then call me and I will get them in touch with you. With four of them and many of you, they have not talked to everyone but they are committed to talking to anyone that will benefit. And yes, this is a beneficial project.

It’s an Election Year
The year 2020 is now here and that brings with it an election. New to California this year will be an earlier Primary Election. We will now vote on March 3. It’s also important to note that this election will be 100% mail-in ballot too. You can still drop your ballot off but there will not be any polling places in March to go and vote this year. Make sure your mailing address is correct with the Butte County Clerk Recorder.

In this issue of the Butte County Farm Bureau News you will find our March Primary Voter Guide. You will notice three names for Butte County Supervisor. It is imperative that these three candidates win their seats. And preferably in March too. It is these three seats that have agriculture’s best interest at the County Board of Supervisors. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to attend an upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting or watch one from the past twelve months. They are all available online.

BCFB Voter Guide March 2020

December in DC
Despite the tremendous amount of televised drama taking place in Washington DC the last year, there have been some major accomplishments. The House of Representatives passage of USMCA HR 5430 and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act HR 5038 in December, and both with tremendous bi-partisan support, have us eager to see both these bills voted on by the Senate and ultimately to the Presidents desk. Both bills will benefit California agriculture. We are appreciative of Congressman LaMalfa and his leadership and support in seeing both these bills get passed in the House.

We look forward to seeing you at the BCFB Annual Dinner on January 3st at Gold Country Casino where we will thank outgoing President Darren Rice, welcome our new president elect Lee Heringer and then dance the evening away to local favorite Decades.

We are looking forward to working for you in 2020 and thank you for your membership in the Butte County Farm Bureau. Happy New Year!

BCFB Opposes Butte Regional Conservation Plan

By Colleen Cecil
Executive Director, Butte County Farm Bureau

For more than 12 years I have served as the Butte County Farm Bureau, and subsequently the agriculture representative, for the Butte Regional Conservation Plan (BRCP) Stakeholder group.

The BRCP is a 50 year plan that is both a federal Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and a state Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP). It provides a streamlined permitting process to accomplish transportation projects, urban and residential development and other covered activities.

The plan area for the BRCP includes the western two-thirds of Butte County’s total area and encompasses all of Butte County’s Agriculture zoned land.

The BRCP has always been touted as a plan to “streamline” the environmental permitting process for developers. As a BRCP stakeholder, I often asked “what does this plan do for agriculture?” I was told that it would benefit agriculture by allowing our area irrigation districts an easier permitting process for their annual projects.

Plan area

While that is in fact a benefit, what never could be resolved were the obvious impacts to agriculture that I often questioned. If you’re at all familiar with the environmental permitting process for development and how a conservation easement works, than you know that in-perpetuity easements are placed on other non-developable ground, and in this example agriculture zoned ground, to mitigate for a threatened or endangered species that may be on a parcel destined for development.

As a result of the size and scope of the plan, the potentially negative impacts to agriculture and very few direct benefits to agriculture, the Butte County Farm Bureau has been and remains opposed to the BRCP being approved in Butte County.

The BRCP is a 1,106 page document including all appendices, maps, charts and templates with a $434 million dollar price tag. The magnitude of technical information and detail included in this large document means there is no chance of me explaining all of the BCFB’s concerns in this editorial.

I wanted you to all know the BCFB is opposed to the BRCP being approved in Butte County and will remain opposed. Additionally we have suggested that this plan fails for lack of total community support (the developers, for whom it is supposed to benefit, have said they can do without it) and for its disregard of the importance for agriculture to Butte County’s open space, environment and economy.

I would encourage you to go and take a look the BRCP under the documents tab at

Please don’t read this as BCFB being opposed to conservation and easements. NOTHING could be farther from the truth. Butte County’s farmers and ranchers have always been and will continue to be staunch environmental stewards of our land and its critters. Development, mitigation, new easements and environmental protection will still continue and will happen just as it has been happening in Butte County.

If you own agriculture zoned ground in the plan area, you should understand this plan. If you farm and own rice ground, you should be concerned about this plan. If you own land ideal for grazing, you should understand this plan. If you already farm next to federal and state owned protected land, you too should understand this plan. And if you ever plan to develop anything in Butte County, you should read this plan.

Butte County is rich with environmentally protected, public and privately owned, open space habitat ground and we accomplished all of it without the BRCP.

I encourage your phone calls and all of your questions. After you call me, call your Chico, Oroville, Biggs and Gridley City Council members and the Board of Supervisors. They will have the final approval.

After 12 years of stakeholder meetings and reading drafts, I still learn something new about the HCP and NCCP process every time I open the document. Let’s learn and understand together. Maybe a collaborative plan that celebrates our agriculture and protects habitat can be created for future generations rather than the selfish plan we’re being asked to support.

(Reprinted from the September/October Butte County Farm Bureau News.)

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.