farm irrigation
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Patty Poire President, Kern County Farm BureauBy Patty Poire, President, Kern County Farm Bureau

The saying ‘time goes by fast when one is having fun’ seems to describe best how I am feeling this month, but I won’t say that I was just having fun! Well, this is my last article as President of the Kern County Farm Bureau, and I can’t believe that it’s been two years! So, let me get right into it.   

The legislative session ended in September, and of course, the legislators continued their “regulate everything” concept. The area that the legislators seemed most focused on this year had to do with labor. At the time that I am writing this, two bills come to mind: SB 497, which creates a rebuttable presumption that any adverse personnel action is retaliatory if it coincides within 90 days of the occurrence of activities protected from retaliation under the Labor Code, and SB 799 that permits employees participating in a strike to collect unemployment insurance benefits. I truly hope that neither one of them got signed by the Governor but if they did, make sure that you have the “facts” of the requirements as employers so that you are not blindsided later. Contact the Kern County Farm Bureau to obtain clarification if they did get signed.   

In the previous month’s article, I provided a quick update on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) about a rumor that the April 2024 probationary hearing for the Kern subbasin was slightly slipping. Well, that is no longer a rumor; it has slipped to later in 2024, which will help the basin find acceptable solutions to the inadequate determination. I will say this — there are some individuals in this basin who are still requesting that the GSAs placate the state’s demand to become sustainable within five years and are now recommending extraction caps on agricultural wells located next to certain infrastructure. If you are that agricultural landowner and are not aware of your wells having limitations placed on them to extract water, then you had better be engaged and start asking questions. Once this concept is presented to state staff it will be almost impossible to pull it back, especially if the presentation is kept by the staff.   

As I mentioned last month, the statute states that the basin has until 2040 to become sustainable — not tomorrow nor in 2025. The Kern subbasin is approximately 326,000 acre-feet in overdraft, and that number is shared by all water districts, with only three that showed any form of surplus. The state staff is seeking revised groundwater sustainability plans that include “demand reduction” as the means to become sustainable. This is where being at the table and being a part of the discussion and decision-making is vital. My recommendation: don’t let others determine your destiny. Engage.   

Thank you again for the privilege of representing the nation’s No. 1 agricultural county. I hope that you all come to the Bounty of Kern being held on October 7 so that I can thank you all individually. It has been an honor!    

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