Farm Bureau Supports Sonoma County Agriculture

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Farm Bureau Supports Sonoma County Agriculture

By Kim Vail, Executive Director

Published April 1, 2016

Kim Vail

Agriculture education and public policy are two of the primary purposes of why members support the work of Farm Bureau in Sonoma County. These topics range from our local Ag Days held in March to working on forming ag friendly legislation around the county.

Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Ag Days are a great example of the commitment of our agriculture community banding together to share the story of farming and ranching as well as educating teachers, parents and students about the original source of their food and fiber.  A significant component of Ag Days are the contests for students that encourage them to take a theme and incorporate it into a project ranging from bookmarks, posters and murals to essays and videos. It was encouraging to see the quality of the projects on display over the two days.  An awards dinner held on the evening of the first day welcomed nearly 800 parents, teachers and students.  Several smiling and excited faces of students and teachers walked across the stage as their hard work was recognized with ribbons, plaques and cash awards.  My thanks to everyone who sponsored and/or volunteered to make Ag Days such a premier local agriculture event.

On the policy side, Farm Bureau recently issued a statement on an issue that surfaced nearly a year ago and stands to impact Sonoma County agriculture. I would like to take some time to share this statement from your county leaders.

SCFB statement on a proposed winery events ordinance
The preservation of agriculture should remain the focus of public policy planning. A Sonoma County initiative to develop event regulations directed at winery development and operations raises concern that undue limits on the ability of wine grape growers to make a living producing grapes would result.  As a representative for our member growers and vintners, Farm Bureau believes the focus should remain on growing premium grapes and marketing premium wines produced from these grapes. 

Any consideration of further regulatory policy should not focus only on winery activity without including all other activity with the capacity to create an impact on a respective community.  The policy should focus to address impacts of activity and a facility’s capacity to minimize those impacts. Additionally, a county as diverse in topography as Sonoma also needs to take into consideration site specific permitting parameters.  A one-size-fits-all approach is unworkable and not advisable. Recognition of the impact on agriculture by residential development within a rural area and the capacity of the existing transportation corridor to maintain public safety is another point of consideration. 

Farm Bureau supports:

  • Winery development that promotes wine grape production and all activities of wineries which are elemental to the long term success of new and existing wineries.
  • New wineries, without regard to parcel size, that conform to zoning code and have a majority of the parcel dedicated to agricultural production whenever possible.
  • Tasting room facilities that include promotion of agricultural production.
  • Activities that involve the education or sale of the winery’s products.
  • Business practice that is conscious of being a good neighbor.
  • Observing best practices to minimize impact from noise and traffic, while promoting safety for visitors and neighbors.

Sonoma County’s wine community is committed to principles of sustainability and the preservation of agriculture.  Sonoma County Farm Bureau supports the wine industry and the many positive contributions it makes to Sonoma County.

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