By Patty Poire, President, Kern County Farm Bureau
Here we are in August, and July went out with a roar! You might ask why a roar? Well, it is because of the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) deadline of July 27th. DWR issued a determination letter of an incomplete status back on January 28, 2022, with three deficiencies indicated in their review and determination. Since then, the Kern subbasin Groundwater Sustainable Agencies (GSA) have worked to collaborate and coordinate the response to DWR. Now that the submittal has been completed, DWR has stated that they will be reviewing then providing their final decision by the end of 2022. As I have mentioned in previous articles, that decision could end of up having the Kern subbasin going into a probationary status, which means the State Water Board steps in and begins their oversight and review. As a farmer, you want to have DWR come back and provide a complete status and have the basin move forward with the implementation of SGMA at the local level. You don’t want the state!
And if that isn’t enough to get you excited, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed that businesses begin disclosing their “climate-related risks” by tracking greenhouse gas emissions throughout their supply chain. In the United States, the food supply chain is largely made up of all sizes of farms, small, medium and large, that send their products to processors or directly to market. According to Pacific Research Institute, Wayne Winegarden, senior fellow in Business and Economics, wrote in a filling to the SEC that the proposed rule would “mandate unachievable reporting requirements, (impose) costly new burdens on companies and (provide) information dubious of value to investors.” As a farmer of any size, providing your “climate-related risks” would be subjective as well as objective and to what level would be required and would you be held accountable for the disclosure? No one knows yet! Is the SEC stepping beyond its expertise and expanding its mission beyond what has been placed on it by legislation? One begins to wonder.
Now that I have your attention even more, the California Department of Pesticide (DPR) held several workshops to present their proposal on a state-wide notification system and to seek input from the public and the agricultural industry. The state’s proposal would create a system where a user would input a California address and receive notifications 24 hours in advance of any restricted material products (pesticides) used within a 9-mile radius. The notification would not include the exact address of the application but would identify if it occurred within one mile of the user’s address. It sounds like a useful notification until you realize that it will more than likely trigger more instances of use challenges through appeals and protester/trespassing incidents. And apparently at the workshops held by DPR, which were well attended, that comments from the agricultural industry were met with hostility and attacks from anti-pesticide advocates. This doesn’t come as a surprise since anti-pesticide advocates have become more and more vocal about their desire to end the use of pesticides, as was on display at one of the Kern County Supervisor Board meetings. They proceeded to explain that the local Kern County farmers have a history of violations which is not the case. To be exact, Kern County farmers have the least number of violations. This type of behavior has just recently been given a tag name called “conflict entrepreneurs.” It is defined as a person who profits, who makes a living, by sowing discord amount the public. Because honestly, most people and in this instance, most farmers and the public want the same thing, to be protective of the use of pesticides. And if the farmers apply correctly, the public is not in harms way, but these conflict entrepreneurs don’t want solutions, they want conflict to continue so they can continue with their job. Amazing!
I should end with at least some good news, so the Friant Division of the Federal Bureau of Reclamation announced on Friday July 8, that they are increasing the 2022 water allocation for Class 1 contractors from 15% to 20%. They even stated that they are optimistic that there may be an opportunity to increase the Class 1 allocation to 30%, if no additional water in Millerton Lake is required by the Exchange Contractors.
As I have stated in previous articles, the California farmer is on display and being challenged in so many ways, however, the Kern County Farm Bureau will continue the fight and works towards the betterment of you, the California farmer.