Farmers, ranchers urged to join coalition |

Farmers, ranchers urged to join coalition

Nevada County farmers and ranchers who seek protection from a costly state-imposed fee for using water will finally have a chance to be heard by a regional board.

A Jan. 28 meeting of the Regional Water Quality Control Board is scheduled, marking the first time this county and other rural foothill counties will be able to ask for a waiver of a fee that is imposed on “any person or entity that discharges or is proposing to discharge waste.”

While the fee is imposed on all farmers and ranchers with the hopes of protecting the state’s watersheds from potentially damaging pesticides, the county’s agricultural commissioner Paul Boch said it was designed to target large-scale operations. The fee is applied across the board to all farmers and ranchers, and Nevada County’s supervisors have decided they believe this is unfair.

At the upcoming meeting, representatives from rural counties will be asking for a “low-threat waiver.” A decision is not expected to be reached until March, but farmers and ranchers who are impacted by the fee currently are encouraged to join a coalition for protection in the meantime.

To help local farmers and ranchers avoid potential $1,000 a-day-fines, the supervisors unanimously decided on Jan. 11 to support a letter urging all residents affected by the fee to join the Sacramento Valley Water Quality Coalition’s “conditional fee waiver program.”

Alternatively, farmers and ranchers can opt to join another subwatershed or the Upper Feather River Subwatershed, file for an individual waiver.

But “all of these options carry significant costs in the form of fees and monitoring and reporting requirements that are well above the cost that your subwatershed has established for participants,” the letter warns.

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