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By Romeo Agbalog, Executive Director, Kern County Farm Bureau

Romeo Agbalog
Kern County Farm Bureau Executive Director, Romeo Agbalog

The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day or July 4th, has been recognized as a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, though the traditions of Fourth of July celebrations date back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. The Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from Great Britain on July 2nd, 1776, and then two days later on the 4th adopted the Declaration of Independence. So, from 1776 to the present, we celebrate July 4th as the birth of American Independence and commemorate this day with festivities including fireworks, barbecues, parades, and the like.

As we celebrate our nation’s independence again this year with food, fireworks, and fun, it’s important to take a moment and reflect where the food that will be served on tables across the country comes from. Likely from California, and remember “The 100 Mile Circle” referenced by Harrison Co. in a research report that they published last year? This 100-mile radius centered in Fresno and spans to Modesto in the North, Salinas to the West, and stretches to Bakersfield in the South accounts for approximately 60% of the nation’s fruits and nuts, and 30% of the country’s vegetables though represents only 1% of the total landmass of the United States. This statistic shows just how important a role our region plays in feeding the country, yet agriculture continues to be threatened by burdensome laws and regulations that increase costs, threaten water supplies, restrict land use and more. I suspect this is not the type of independence or government behavior that our nation’s founding fathers envisioned.

Your Farm Bureau however remains steadfast in its efforts to safeguard local area agriculture’s ability to continue to feed the country by taking action recently to oppose AB 2550 (Arambula D-Fresno) and provide comment to both the Kern County Board of Supervisors and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Board on the AB 617 Arvin/Lamont Community Emissions Reduction Program. So in a similar way and spirit of the delegates from the 13 colonies back in 1776, we honor our nation’s independence but fight for a different kind of independence for farmers and ranchers from a government that’s lost sight of the spirit of 1776.