By Patty Poire, President, Kern County Farm Bureau
As John stated in his last President’s message, time sure does fly when you’re having fun. And I have been having “fun” the last couple of years participating in the Kern County Farm Bureau as the Chair of the Land Use Committee, being a part of the Executive Committee and Officer’s Committee under some amazing past presidents like Wegis, Rasmussen, Martinez, and Moore, to name a few. These presidents are a hard act to follow, but if you know me, you know I will do my best! And the same time, I don’t give up nor do I back away!
For those who don’t me know, let me give you a little history about myself. I was born right here in Bakersfield way back when (maiden name Lozano) and attended Plantation, Greenfield Jr. High and South High (when we were called Rebels). I continued my education at the University of Pacific and Cal State Bakersfield. During my high school years, I met by husband Louie Poire. His name might be familiar to some because his father was the first pilot for Kern County Land Company. Like his father, my husband was a pilot, and his profession took us to Houston where our only child, Louis Poire (sound familiar?) was born. Upon our return to Bakersfield in 2000 after the passing of my husband, I worked for Coleman/Lennar Homes where I met some fabulous farmers who I purchased land from. Subsequently and surprisingly, Grimmway Farms offered me an opportunity where I worked for almost 10 years. In those years, I handled Corporate and Public Affairs, meaning I worked on regulation/regulatory issues and became involved with Kern County Farm Bureau and haven’t looked back.
Today, I am the Executive Director for the Kern Groundwater Authority (KGA), one of five Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) that submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) under the Groundwater Sustainability Management Act (SGMA). SGMA is now under the implementation stage while the Kern subbasin awaits the review decision by the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and that decision per statue is due by January 31, 2022. If you as a landowner are not engaged with your water districts, I strongly recommend that you begin to be as the implementation moves forward, especially with DWR’s decision on the horizon. One of my favorite sayings is that if you are not at the table then you are on the menu! Meaning, as SGMA moves forward, your input is important, especially as this basin moves toward a native yield study. With working for Grimmway for almost 10 years, I tend to approach topics from a landowner mindset, and I believe for this basin to be successful under SGMA, landowners are the foundation to that success. The idea of success under SGMA is for productive agricultural land to stay in production while maintaining landowner property and water rights. By defining success in that way, our efforts have led to GSAs working together to develop a data management tool (DMS) that will provide data/information that will be available to landowners to assist in decisions about water levels and quality.
Unfortunately, SGMA is not the only regulation that needs to be dealt with. The Central Valley Salinity Program (CV-SALTS) is coming early next year. The only good thing that I can say about CV-SALTS is that the Kern subbasin is considered a Priority 2 basin which means that the Priority 1 basins have commenced regulation thereby allowing Kern to learn more prior to implementation. I believe that CV-SALTS unfortunately could be more challenging than SGMA to a landowner/farmer. Again, engagement is vital.
As John mentioned in his last message, curtailments and the state seem to try to “re-write” water rights by curtailments and reclassifying that farming is not a beneficial use of water–which are also topics that need to be watched and pushed back on. Your Kern County Farm Bureau will continue to work towards having a seat at the table and keep you as a member informed, which I hope means that you will engage in our monthly meetings. As advised above, I will be displaying the DMS at a Farm Bureau meeting later this year.
The State is moving in a direction where they are wanting complete dominion. Governor Newsom’s Executive Order of 30 x 30 that was signed back in September 2020 is the foundation for such control. The 30 x 30 rule means that the state wants to control 30% of all working lands and 30% of all waters by 2030. All State departments have been working to set policies to accomplish the goal of 30 x 30.
These are all topics that are heading our way, if not already here, but know that the Kern County Farm Bureau is tackling them and will continue. As I stated above, engagement is vital, and I hope that you know you are welcomed to attend the meetings every month the third Thursday at 5 p.m. at our new office location at 1800 30th Street Suite 390.
I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to represent the Kern County Farm Bureau as president and look forward to your engagement and guidance as we strategically move through all obstacles.