Ag Order 4.0 Hearings Raise Concern Over Complexity of Compliance

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

The recent Ag Order 4.0 hearings have raised a level of concern as the timeline for adoption quickly approaches. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board went over proposals for the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program known as Ag Order 4.0. For two consecutive days, the Board specifically reviewed alternative proposals for the revised draft order. There is concern within the agricultural industry that the revised order will make compliance exceptionally difficult.

Ag Order 4.0 Hearings

“I think the result is that they came up with much more of a complexity to the compliance either for the individual option or the cooperative option, which is what we’re calling the third-party option at this point,” said Monterey County Farm Bureau Executive Directive Norm Groot. “I’m a little worried at this point that we’re going down a pathway to a very complex ag order that’s going to be very difficult for farm operators to manage and also comply with.”

The Board discussed third-party program elements for the revised order, noting that it adds flexibility to the program. The provision would allow third-party groups and individuals to maintain compliance for an agricultural operation. Groot noted his skepticism about the third-party provision, indicating that it lacks any incentive to implement that option. The idea of a third-party component also makes the regulation even more convoluted.

“It just seems to me as I review my notes that they’re making it much more complex and there are many more mileposts that growers are going to have to meet as far as monitoring and reporting,” said Groot. “As well as the calculations for their N applications and how that is done.”

The most recent Ag Order 4.0 hearings are the latest in a long dialogue pertaining to the provisions of the program. Agriculture industry members have been deeply involved all along the way, noting how the order will impact agricultural production. There is an expectation that another revision of the order will be released by the end of January. “Then there will be a short comment period for the public to review and provide comment back to the staff. From there, it will go back to the board for review,” Groot noted.

Listen to the interview below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West