potato field being irrigated
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By Patty Poire, President, Kern County Farm Bureau

Patty Poire President, Kern County Farm Bureau
Patty Poire, President, Kern County Farm Bureau

The toughness and resolve of the California farmer is truly being challenged now more than in the last couple of years. With the increased costs for fertilizer, labor, regulatory and don’t forget water, these costs are taking over the agricultural industry with no end in sight.

As for water, it appears that this is going to be more of a dry water year than anticipated. The water year began with storms in December and early January but unfortunately tapered off to the point where the State pulled back its original allocation and then the Federal project proceeded in the same direction, pulled back. Now the Governor issued an Executive Order N-7-22 on March 28th, 2022, that extends his previous executive orders that began on April 12, 2021, with three additional executive orders that continued throughout the year of 2021.

Interestingly, in January the governor requested Californians do their “fair share” of decreasing their water usage by 15% in February. Californians saved less than 1% while agriculture was already looking at no allocations. In some areas, the water usage increased, and thus, the governor felt an executive order was necessary.

To assist in understanding the impacts to the reservoirs, see the current reservoir conditions as of April 10th, 2022. I am not sure that most Californians understand that water for agricultural means people are working, and food is being produced to be available at their favorite grocery stores.

I wish that water was the only topic requiring the Farm Bureau attention, but unfortunately it is not. Sacramento is having another robust year of cranking out legislative bill after legislative bill to regulate more of your life and what you can do in your life as it relates to agriculture. COVID-19 is and has remained one of Sacramento’s vehicles to regulate. For example, AB 1751 would extend the date to report instances requiring workers’ compensation to January 1, 2024. WOW, it appears that if you had COVID-19 now, you would have until January 1, 2024 to file a workers compensation claim. How many farmers would know two years from now who had COVID and when? California Farm Bureau is working on legislative bills like AB 1751 to stop the movement to the governor’s desk. Maybe with this year being a mid-term election year and there are several candidates running now for governor, even if it makes it to his desk, he might have a reason to not sign! One could hope!

Speaking of mid-terms, that will be interesting as it gets closer to the primaries especially with the new districting that has occurred in California. Kern County has been divided into parts that go as far north as Fresno, as far south as San Bernadino and as west as the coast. It is like the State is wanting to “spread” Kern County instead of allowing it to control its own destiny. One item is for sure, agricultural in those areas is not as important as it is here, and to have some one who hasn’t experienced Kern County agricultural, it will be a challenge to educate them as they vote in Sacramento. The Kern County Farm Bureau will be establishing its Political Committee and if you would like to participate, please contact Executive Director Romeo Agbalog.

We know the toughness and resolve of the Californian farmer is on display and being challenged. Let’s continue the fight and work towards the betterment of California agriculture.