By Patty Poire, President, Kern County Farm Bureau
WOW! It’s been one year for me as President of the Kern County Farm Bureau, and it has gone by fast. Not sure why so fast, is it because time flies when you are having “fun” or is it because there have been so many issues coming at agriculture? I think it is a combination of both! I have had “fun” this past year working on the issues coming at agriculture and below are some of those highlights of the last year and where those issues are today.
In my first article, I provided you with an idea of who I am and what I do. I am the Executive Director of the Kern Groundwater Authority (KGA), one of the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) who submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) back on January 31, 2020. Since then, DWR has come back with their determination of the Kern subbasin GSPs with an inadequate determination, meaning that additional information and/or data was needed before DWR would provide their “final” determination. That final determination is expected from DWR by January 2023 and the Kern subbasin GSAs are looking to have an approved determination at that time. That approved determination is not, however, the end of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) process, but only the beginning. The implementation of the GSPs is where agriculture begins to understand, especially in Kern County, what curtailments mean. With curtailments occurring during the last couple of years under the disguise of “drought relief,” water deliveries from the State Water Project and Friant will continue to be diminished, thus decisions will need to be made about how to reduce the demand. In Kern County, the only way to reduce the demand is to reduce the amount of agricultural acreage. Not a good choice!
Also in my first article, I mentioned Governor Newsom’s Executive Order of 30×30 which was signed back in September 2020. Unfortunately, the Executive Order has “grown legs and arms” and is traveling throughout the state’s departments to implement what his Executive Order means, the state in control of 30% of all working lands and 30% of all waters by 2030. There was a release of a draft and final pathway to achieve the ambitious goal of 30×30, but only time will tell!
Another subject that continues to be a hot topic is pesticides. It is amazing the misunderstandings that are being presented as “truth” about the use of pesticides by those who want agriculture to stop using them. In the last couple of months, there has been a change of leadership in the Department of Pesticide Regulation. Julie Henderson, DPRs new director, is working to develop a statewide notification system that should be completed towards the end of this year. The Kern County Farm Bureau signed an opposition letter pushing back on the Governor’s request to institute a setback requirement of 3,200 feet from urban development that would first be placed on oil wells and evidently would make its way to agriculture. It is amazing, people act as if the agricultural and oil industries encroached on urban development but actually, it is the other way around, urban is the encroacher.
Finally, but not least of all, this is the one topic that keeps me up at night! Two little words, climate change! It seems like everything is somehow related to climate change, especially in California. In my last month’s article, I discussed how the Governor is so worried about climate change that he published his California Water Supply Strategy adapting to a hotter, drier future. All the curtailments, most of the legislation this year, and the regulations being pushed by the State Water Board, are using climate change as the basis, need, and reasoning, for what is needed to “prevent” or respond to climate change. I read an article recently about John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel, and one of his appearances on CNN. When asked about climate change, he described himself as a skeptic, not a denier, because he believed that science is not a consensus but is about facts. He stated that “If you get down to the hard, cold facts, there’s no question about it, climate change is not happening, there is no significant, man-made global warming now, there hasn’t been any in the past, and there’s no reason to expect any in the future. There’s a whole lot of baloney.” Unfortunately, John Coleman passed away, but his expertise and knowledge should not be forgotten. Climate change ideas have driven most California regulations for the last couple of years and looks like it will continue! Not sure how much more the agricultural industry can absorb!
I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to represent the Kern County Farm Bureau as President and look forward to seeing you all at the Kern County Bounty on October 8th at the Kern County Fair Grounds. Let’s celebrate the industry that continues to feed the country and the world!