By Patty Poire, President, Kern County Farm Bureau
Happy New Year! I hope that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and brought the New Year in with a bang!
Can’t believe that it is already 2022. I wish that I could say that 2022 is going to be a year where regulations and water and pesticide issues no longer exist, but it is not April Fools’ Day! Unfortunately, 2022 will continue to be like 2021 but maybe more difficult to maneuver through the regulations and pesticide issues, and as for water, the state has already stayed its course of coming out already with zero allocations in the State Water Project. I do hope that the mid-term elections will have an impact or at least trigger elected officials’ hesitation to continue in their nonsense legislation. I can hope!
December brought a change of leadership in with Julie Henderson becoming the new director of the Department of Pesticide. Before the official announcement, she served as interim for a few months but now as the new director she has the task of developing a statewide notification system for pesticide usage. Public workshops were held in early November to begin the process to develop a system that will provide real-time notification about pesticide applications occurring nearby. The system is anticipated to launch in 2023-2024. The Kern County Farm Bureau along with California Farm Bureau are engaged as this process moves forward. We will keep you informed via our e-blasts and at the monthly meetings. Your engagement is always welcomed.
Regulators will continue utilizing climate change to guide the direction. For example, Senate Bill 27 was chartered on September 23, 2021, requiring the Department of Natural Resources to establish and maintain a registry for the purpose of identifying and listing projects in the state that drive climate action on the state’s natural and working lands. It will be interesting to see how and what is developed from this type of legislation. Interesting time!
Water. Where do I begin? The State Water Board moved in an unprecedented decision to announce a 0% initial allocation for the State Water Project. I believe that Royce Fast, president of the Kern County Water Agency said it best: “A zero allocation is catastrophic and tragically inadequate for Kern County residents, farms and businesses, and it provides no hope for replenishment of groundwater banking reserves that have been tapped to provide agricultural and urban water during previous dry years.” Back on November 16, 1963, farmers had the foresight to execute contracts for the State Water Project for approximately one million acre-feet of water and have never missed a payment on those contracts even when there is a zero allocation. Last water year, the Kern basin paid $138 million dollars for the full operations and maintenance payment. I’m still waiting for those groups calling for the environment to receive water to even offer to pay their fair share. Everyone seems to forget that the Kern farmers don’t get that water for free, never have!
Well, welcome the year of 2022! Hopefully, it will not end as it seems to be starting.