farmland irrigation
(Photo by David A Litman / Adobe Stock)

By Jenny Holtermann, President, Kern County Farm Bureau

As the new year begins, we look at the new regulations and laws that are facing us. Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, you will have received your full update on how to tackle the new year. I have always found it helpful to look back at how far we have come in the previous year. This can help us further grow and understand the progress we have made. 

Recently, the California Farm Bureau published the “By the Numbers Annual Report.” We have hard copies of this report at the Kern County Farm Bureau office we are happy to provide you with. It was a challenging year for farming, coming out of nearly three years of drought conditions. No one was able to predict the magnitude of the storms and flooding we faced in 2023. There are areas of our state and rural communities that still haven’t recovered. The Tulare Lake looks like it might just be a permanent lake yet again. The storms brought devastation to rural communities and the Farm Bureau was able to assist in securing $160 million in emergency aid and $20 million for agriculture businesses impacted by the storm, as well as $95 million allocated in statewide support. 

Through the storms and atmospheric hurricanes, we were able to capture and store significant amounts of water. Our state could have done better, but locally, I am proud of the farmers and water districts for their fast-acting ability to take advantage of the available water. Just look at the Kern Water Bank — their ability to bank over 610,000-acre feet of water far surpassed the capacity of Lake Isabella. Banking water through private projects, water district projects, and joint ventures is our future to be able to access more water. We were able to show the state just what we are capable of when provided with water. We must continue this momentum and share our abilities with Sacramento and DC.  

Part of my mission these next two years is to share the stories of Kern County agriculture and the remarkable things we can do. If you came to the Bounty of Kern County you heard me talk about one of my favorite quotes, “Don’t let the shoes on carpet, tell the boots on the ground what to do.”  Through your engagement and advocacy, we can get our boots on the carpet to share our story. For far too long we have let the shoes on the carpet tell our boots on the ground what to do. 

In 2023, the Farm Bureau attended 123 governmental affairs committee meetings, 71 regulatory hearings, and countless legislative visits and meetings. In the last three months alone, your Kern County Farm Bureau board of directors and officer team has signed multiple letter campaigns, sat face-to-face with all our elected officials, and led three legislative farm tours bringing our elected officials to our family farms to hear the stories of our agriculture community. This is only the beginning. We know your boots on the ground are busy trying to keep farming. We are here to help you, protect you, equip you and prepare you to farm for the future. It is the transformation we must make together.  

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