cow wearing mask
Cow lying in the field with a mask. Concept of prevention of infection by the food industry. Animal wearing a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Shutterstock

By John Moore, President, Kern County Farm Bureau

John Moore
John Moore, President, Kern County Farm Bureau

The pandemic has shifted normal operating procedures in more ways than one. Employees and employers have adjusted to new safety protocols and some have shifted to “working from home.” For many this will be a “new normal” (which is an equally annoying term to the now wildly overused “unprecedented”). Unfortunately, the same can be said of the state and federal government’s new and improved management style of consistent executive actions. The executive branches in both the state and federal government are acting in increasingly authoritative fashion to the legislature and body politic at large. The California state government and its current leader have set the framework for a top-down style of government management, and it is both dangerous and needs to be halted.

The recent executive action taken by the current California governor in what is often referred to as “30 by 30” is the beginning of a new strategy hailed as an innovated solution to climate change. The executive order N-82-20 states “California’s natural and working lands – our forests, rangelands, farms, wetlands, coast, deserts, and urban greenspaces – sustain our economy, support our unique biodiversity, contribute to the global food supply, support outdoor heritage and provide clean water and air.” As unobtrusive and reasonable as this sounds, the tacit threat of impending government involvement is aimed at the private landowner and dictates resource and land management by removing the capacity for self-governance in the name of climate emergency. The original bill with similar content failed, but the current governor picked up the mantle in order to create a framework for his party and regulators to follow. The legislative process was bypassed for the purpose of long-term strategic management of working and natural lands, which is a fancy way of saying the state government aims to dictate to the private landowner what is best for themselves and the populace. Spoiler alert: the government knows less about proper land management than a newborn knows about sleeping through the night.

Top-down control is not how government should be run in a democratic nation. Government should be a function of its citizens and the representatives those citizens elect. In fact, it’s amazing to this author that, that statements needs reiterating. Government should not be a function of a powerful few in order to use the levers of power to dictate a strategy proclaimed as the saving grace for climate change. The attempt to use “30 by 30” as an environmental strawman will ultimately result in the loss of landowner rights if all parties do not push back. This framework is also being monitored and subsequently implemented by the new federal administration. This framework was similarly enacted through executive order under the guise of immediate doom from the climate crisis resulting in the rejoining of the “Paris Accord,” halting of the Keystone XL pipeline, the resurgence Waters of the U.S. rule, etc. A coalition of federal advocacy groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, is pushing back on the federal level, and both KCFB and CFBF are doing the same on the state level.

Legislators would be good to push back against such blatant overreach. Private landowners and citizens did not elect the regulators who now have an outsized level of power over both private and public policy. The basic function of English common law is dangerously close to being infringed upon. Make no mistake, the actions taken by the current administration and its increasingly powerful regulatory bodies should be of concern and awake each and everyone in the state of California. The recommendation from KCFB to the membership is to make constant contact with one’s legislator and demand representation of their constituents. Farmers and rancher are the best stewards of the lands in which they live and work. Remind them.