Many issues that need your support

By David Strecker, SJFB President

Hopefully the break in between storms this past month has given you the opportunity to catch up on some winter chores. It never fails, when one of your neighbors pulls into a field to do some winter spraying, the next day everyone joins them. Before we know it, the bees will be buzzing, tractors will be humming, the livestock will be sunbathing and all of our schedules will be busy.

San Joaquin Farm Bureau has remained quite active this past month. After several meetings planning our case against the expansion of the Forward Landfill, the hearing before the San Joaquin Board of Supervisors did not go in our favor. Our options have not been totally depleted, but it will take more discussion amongst the SJFB Board of Directors and the local members that have been most affected by the current operations of the landfill to decide how we move forward. I wish that was not a pun and they really did go away.

What the supervisors failed to see is that agriculture throughout the entire county will be impacted by garbage spilling out of the hundreds of trucks traveling our roads and highways from out of the county. Additionally much of the airports funding is at risk due to the operations at the landfill. The evidence that we provided was overwhelming obvious and it was disappointing to see the ending vote of 4-1 in favor of the landfill expanding.

Additionally, SJFB has been busy working with the county Public Works Department regarding the potential Flood CALM assessment (tax). Without SJFB, a special ballot, would have been sent out to most of the east side of the county. Simply put, if passed, many of the farms and ranches on the eastern portion of the county would be paying hundreds and possibly thousands of additional dollars per year without seeing any benefit to their own property.

The additional funding that the county is looking for is to bring much of the commercial and residential property of the City of Stockton within FEMA’s new standard. The proposal put before the board of supervisors was essentially a rain tax on the farm land east of Stockton to protect the urban homes and businesses. Thankfully, the supervisors have extended the time for Public Works and SJFB to come up with a better way of funding the necessary upgrades to the County levees without expecting the agriculture community to primarily fund it.

There has not been much discussion the past several months regarding tunnels or the now single tunnel in the Delta, but it is a hot topic once again. It is going to be long fight and until a new administration is in the Capitol, you will continue hearing about the tunnel. The governor has made the tunnel a priority but has done an exceptional job of flying below the radar in deceiving the public of this devastating project. We will continue to let you know how you can help fight this ridiculous boondoggle.

This leads me to the proposed California State Budget. Yes, some portions of the budget would bring money to the agricultural community. However, it is not a good thing when only a select few will see that money. None of the funding would be needed if all the restrictive policies, laws and taxes had been placed on the agricultural community in the first place.

It is very difficult to be optimistic with the current proposed budget when thousands of acres of farmland throughout California could be fallowed due to SGMA and each year more and more of our specialized equipment and vehicles become illegal for us to operate. The budget does provide funding for broadband internet to be able to reach more of us in the rural areas of California. That is a good thing, but it is difficult to show any excitement when it seems we are facing more regulation and taxes almost daily because of the current administration in Sacramento.

As we approach the primary election in March and the general election in November, San Joaquin Farm Bureau will be providing you with information regarding candidates and propositions. Over the past several weeks there has been a lot of talk of Repealing Proposition 13. The only clear thing about this is, much like the gas tax, it will be very deceptive and misleading when presented on the ballot in November.

In future articles, we will be sure to have this proposition explained very clearly for you to make the correct decision at the ballot box. Initially, the repeal of Proposition 13 could drastically effect the businesses we rely on to operate our livelihoods and could make it that much easier for them to abolish the Williamson Act.

All of this once again leads to why the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation has created the Farmers United PAC. I cannot empathize enough how strong this will make the agricultural community in San Joaquin County. There is no other PAC that can have an impact to our local community and benefit agriculture like Farmers United.

I want to thank all those who have contributed so far and helped get this started. It is now time for us to build a war chest! On Friday, Feb. 28, the Farmers United board will be hosting a fundraiser. Dinner will be held at the Roberts Union Farm Center in the Islands. Please contact the San Joaquin Farm Bureau office for information on purchasing tickets. I hope to see all of you there and this will be the beginning of keeping agriculture as the leading industry in San Joaquin County!