Today, in a notice to growers and stakeholders of the Agriculture Order, which regulates waste discharge from irrigated lands throughout the central coast region, the Central Coast Water Board announced they will be extending the public comment period for the renewal of the order by 60 days in order to facilitate a fair and inclusive public process. Originally April 20, 2020, the public comment period has been extended to June 20, 2020.
In issuing the extension, the notice acknowledged that the COVID-19 crisis and associated response to protect public health and safety is adversely impacting individuals, communities and businesses alike, and “the agricultural industry that will ultimately be subject to the forthcoming Ag Order 4.0 requirements is particularly struggling to engage in the public process at this time.”
The Central Coast Water Board further recognized that agriculture, designated as “critical infrastructure” necessary for providing food during the crisis, is subject to compounding factors such as labor shortages and supply chain limitations while having to address additional worker and food safety issues associated with the COVID-19 crisis.
The notice comes on the heels of a letter sent by Western Growers President and CEO, Dave Puglia, to Calif. Governor Gavin Newsom requesting a formal pause for all open public comment periods for both active rulemakings and non-rulemakings (e.g. informal stakeholder) processes that affect agriculture.
In the March 20 letter, Puglia provided the clear rationale: “Our member-informed input into proposed state agency actions is a vital element of sound public policy development and provides state regulators with much-needed perspectives and insight into the potential impacts of state actions. The disruption caused by this pandemic prohibits our ability to participate fully and provide meaningful input.”
Click here to read the full letter to Calif. Governor Gavin Newsom.
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