Monterey County Farm Bureau

ILRP - Ag Order 4.0

In November 2018, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board released five Options Tables describing their vision for the next iteration of the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program for Central Coast Agriculture (known widely as Ag Order 4.0).  The Options Tables focused on numeric standards and prohibitions that would largely be unattainabile throughout the cycle of Ag Order 4.0 and make compliance montoring and reporting vastly more expensive and difficult for all farms.

In February 2020, Regional Water Board staff released their proposed program for Irrigated Lands in the Central Coast Region (the draft Ag Order 4.0).  There was a public comment period, extended twice, to accommodate timing of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.

Working throughout the 2019 & 2020 years, six Ag associations came together to develop an agricutlural proposal to the staff's harsh regulatory program proposal.  These associations are: Monterey County Farm Bureau, Grower-Shipper Assocation of Central California, California Farm Bureau Federation, Grower-Shipper Association of San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbra Counties, Western Growers, and Western Plant Health Association (known collectively as the Ag Partners).

Monterey County Farm Bureau and Grower-Shipper Association of Central Califonria formed a Technical Advisory Committee in 2018 to specifically address the regulatory challenges of developing a workable, implementable Ag Order.  Additionally, imput was received from other agricultural organizations that are not signatories to the Ag Partners submission.

The Ag Partners proposal was submitted to the Regional Water Board during the comment period that ended in June 2020.  The proposal was then presented, via ZOOM, to the Regional Water Board members and staff at a public workshop held on September 10th and 11th and on September 23rd and 24th, and then again on October 22 & 23rd.  Further hearings were held on December 9th and 10th where staff continued their presentation of the draft order.

Since there is still no consensus by the Regional Water Board members on the elements that should be included in Ag Order 4.0, staff will continue their presentation on January 7th and 8th.  It is expected then that a revised draft will be available in late January with a public comment period on the changes and additions only.  The Regional Water Board will then again hold another hearing at the conclusion of the comment period, possibly for final adoption.

Ag Partners submitted an additional document (via es-parte to the Regional Water Board members directly) on a proposed groundwater protection program.  View a summary of that additional filing here.

View a background video on the development of Ag Order 4.0 and elements of the proposal, produced by CURES, here (about 17 minutes).

Ag Order 4.0 is expected to be adopted in early April, 2021.

View the comment letter submitted by Monterey County Farm Bureau here.

Other documents submitted by the Ag Partners may be obtained by sending a request here.

Monterey County Farm Bureau supports the use of General Discharge Requirements (WDR) for this next iteration of the Ag Order (rather than another conditional waiver that is limited to five years).  This allows for more regualtory flexibility and certainty, as noted in the narrative document.

Please e-mail any comments on these documents to

MCFB, along with our Ag  organization partners, will continue to monitor Ag Order 4.0 as it is fully considered during 2020 Regional Water Board meetings.  MCFB has committed significant funding to the Ag Partners submission including expert reports on agronomy, economics, and legal issues.