Analysis of the Rice WDR compared to other Ag Waste Discharge Requirements shows significant benefit to Sacramento Valley rice growers. At a cost of $1.60 per acre (plus staff), paid for by the CRC out of member dues, the program is the most competitive in the state. Other WDRs range from $4-$7 per acre and must be paid for directly by the grower.
By focusing solely on rice, the CRC has been successful in tailoring surface and groundwater regulations just to the impacts of the crop. The result is less monitoring. We have also successfully made the case that rice has little impact on ground water due to the anaerobic nature of the crop and heavy clay soils where it is grown. This results in less reporting at the grower level with no Irrigation and Nitrogen Management Plans and no Sediment and Erosion Control Plans, which are requirements for other crops.
After review of the program, the CRC Board agreed keeping the program within the CRC has significant benefits. Costs, even at this lower level of regulation, continue to increase, however, with projected Rice WDR costs coming in at $1.3 million by 2029.
Combined with reduced acres due to the voluntary agreements and modest increases in other programs and operating costs, we estimate that we will exceed our current assessment rate of $0.15 per hundredweight in just a couple of years.
After careful consideration of these factors, the CRC Board has acted to take a vote to growers and handlers in June asking for an increase in the assessment cap to $0.20 per hundredweight (still split evenly between growers and handlers). Ballots will be mailed by CDFA in June 2020. If successful, we estimate that the CRC can operate another nine years with no change in program delivery.
Look for your ballot in June.