Graphic provided by California Bountiful Foundation

Originally published in July 2023 print edition.

Patty Poire President, Kern County Farm BureauBy Patty Poire, president of Kern County Farm Bureau

We are now on the back end of 2023, and since my last article, a lot has happened. To mention a few in this month’s article, I will start with a legislative bill that is continuing to move forward—AB 985.  Apparently, Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula seems to think that the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District is not “regulating” or “enforcing” the reduction of air emissions. To help understand the complexity and why this legislation is not good for agriculture, let me take a few sentences to assist.   Currently, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has the responsibility to regulate vehicular air pollution and the air district has the responsibility to regulate all other sources of air pollution which are stationary emissions. The air district, through its regulations and programs, has reduced over 90% of stationary source emissions, and the San Joaquin Valley air quality strategy is the most stringent in the entire nation (see diagram below). 

Now, this regulation has cost agricultural millions of dollars in upgrading its equipment to meet the set standards, but the air district developed an emission reduction credit system to assist.  Now, that program is being questioned as to whether it is a viable program that produces reduced emissions. This legislation would require CARB to conduct an analysis of the air district’s emission reduction credit system and ensure that the reduction credits are deemed invalid if they were issued in violation of state, local, or district laws.   It goes on to require that CARB analyze all permits in the district that use a credit for certain air emissions constituents and submit its findings to the legislation.  This could easily open all air district agreements to be analyzed and thus, those who have those agreements will look for other ways to comply.  The most air emission pollution in the San Joaquin Valley is vehicular (mobile) and the air movement from the coast and northern California.   When wildfires occur, the wildfire smoke travels into the Valley at such a high rate that, for the last couple of years, the Valley cannot meet federal standards.  The San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District developed a program to assist, but now that does not seem to be enough. 

I mentioned in a previous article that Governor Newsom signed the card check bill (AB 113) into legislation and moved forward with “correcting” legislation—this legislation has moved forward to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). The ALRB has wasted no time in publishing their draft regulations regarding those correcting legislation and is scheduled to adopt them on June 23.  The new regulations would rescind the mail-in voting option and allow farmworker unions to collect and submit ballots for union elections.  

Of course, I must mention water in every article, but this time I am bringing to your attention the study completed by the California Bountiful Foundation.   In that study, it looks at ALL the water that Mother Nature provides to the State of California and how it is used (see slide below).  

The Kern County Farm Bureau e-blasted the report out last week and I strongly suggest that you take the time to review.   Agricultural needs to start “speaking” up for itself. Recently, the State Water Board held a workshop on the addition of Tribal Beneficial uses to water quality for the delta.  At the workshop, the tone by the tribes was that the delta water needed to be as close to potable as possible (drinking water standard).  What does that mean to the existing agricultural beneficial use?  No one asked!  My understanding of being silent means acceptance.  And you all know, if you are not at the table, you are on the menu! 

P.S.

By the time this reaches you, the State Water Board will have held their meeting in Sacramento considering the basins classified as Inadequate, including Kern. Rumor has it, this informational item will rank the basins based on how they will go to a probationary classification. If you would like information on this ranking, please contact me.

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