give and take road sign
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By John Moore, President, Kern County Farm Bureau

In Life There Are Givers

By nature, farmers and ranchers are Givers. Farmers and ranchers start by giving themselves to their soils or herd to create an immensely important product. For these stewards, food, fiber, and humility is their gift to society. They give their working lives to risk their family’s financial stability and take on the critical role of supporting employees. Farmers directly provide consumers with product to eat or wear or to corporate buyers to distribute accordingly. This gift is really a mutually agreeable exchange based on yields, and commodity price fluctuations can be a gift of great reward or can lead to pain that any farmer worth his or her salt has experienced. This unwritten contract is what agriculturalists agree to when they plant a seed or care for an animal. The gamble may or may not be worth it, but being in a miraculous growing region like the San Joaquin Valley certainly helps mitigate some risk. The amount of pride that coincides with the ability to provide a bounty is a gift in itself.

In Life There Are Takers

And in California, the Taker is on the march. As agriculturalists advocate on behalf of an industry that gives, the frequency of the Taker becomes more and more prevalent. More often than not, policy decisions are made on behalf of the Taker and distributed in ways that end up harming the state’s population. The Takers are those who have stalled agricultural progress and contributed to the squeeze on the small to mid-sized farmer. To be clear, this is to no fault of larger agricultural organizations with ability to scale. Mergers and consolidations are a byproduct of the very policy drafted by the Takers who simultaneously claim to love the small farmer. Takers are overwhelmingly California state Legislators, State Board Members (SWRCB, CARB), and lobbyists masquerading as “justice” groups. Regulatory staffers are then tasked with unfortunate job of interpreting incoherent and self-defeating policy prescriptions. Takers weaponize Disadvantaged Communities and hijack environmental talking points to systematically weaken the State’s resource economies by allowing the deterioration of existing water infrastructure, encouraging permitting impossibilities, and mismanaging resources identified as critical to the region 100 years ago. It’s not that these Takers do not pseudo-gift. They give but distribute what is not theirs. Fortunately, the Taker’s time is temporary.

The Victors Are Givers

In life, those who give themselves to others, share what is theirs, and take what is fair are due to succeed. Examples of generosity happen often and should be highlighted. Recently, thanks to a maverick board member and great friend to the Bakersfield community, the Kern County Fair Board decided that rather than hoard the state’s helicopters of cash, they would give to their community a long-standing event for families and friends to celebrate. Our community and our organization is filled with philanthropic spirit. Pushing back against a Taking mentality is critical to our success, and that is a cause that all should be happily giving.