ADVOCACY: Your Sonoma County Farm Bureau WORKING FOR YOU

Written By: Admin
Published: August 7, 2018
“As the united voice of Agriculture, our MISSION is to represent, protect and advance the social, economic and educational interests of the farmers and ranchers of Sonoma County.”

Working for You in 2018

Sonoma County Farm Bureau Year in Review

  1. Crab Feed: The 29th Annual Great Sonoma Crab and Wine Fest sold out in record time. On February 3, 2018 more than 1,500 guests and nearly 400 volunteers and reception participants, gathered to support local agriculture. The evening started off with a reception that showcased local food, wine and beer from Sonoma County. Nineteen wineries poured Sonoma County wine to guests, and new this year, three breweries – Bear Republic Brewing Company, St. Florian’s Brewing and Seismic Brewing Company – also poured local beer. More than 170 4-H and FFA students volunteered to serve guests at the event, and many of the students who have served in the past went on to receive scholarships from the Farm Bureau Foundation.


  1. Ag Days: On March 13 & 14, over 5,000 students descended on the Sonoma County Fairgrounds to experience agriculture up-close and in person. The 2018 theme was the Year of Water and Soil, with an educational emphasis on these elements that are critical to agriculture. Resource agencies and organizations from throughout the county gathered to educate kids about ag and the importance of soil and water. For many, the most exciting part of the event is getting to see and touch all kinds of animals, including large livestock. With students from all backgrounds coming to attend Ag Days, Sonoma County Farm Bureau hopes they will take their knowledge home and share it with family and friends. It takes a village to put on this event and educate so many children about where their food comes from. Thank you to all the volunteers who participated in the event and the sponsors who made the event possible.


  1. Golf Tournament: Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted its 17th annual Golf Tournament on Friday, June 9. It was a beautiful day on the greens at Windsor Golf Club in Windsor. Awards were given to the top teams and a blind bogey system was used to determine the winning net score. The 1st Place Team Gross was Soiland Co. Inc., the 1st Place Team Net as Nationwide, the Longest Drive Men went to David Garcia, the Longest Drive Women went to Monica Borowicz, the Closest to the Pin was won by Michael Monette, the Best Dressed Team was Garton Tractor, and the Best Dressed Individual was Alli Dericco from Rodney Strong Vineyards.


  1. Love of the Land: On July 12, 2018 over 800 guests attended Love of the Land at the Pavilion at Richard’s Grove. This mid-summer celebration honors agricultural award winners who are leading the way to preserve Sonoma County’s rich farming heritage. The event began with a tasting of Sonoma County wine and food and a dinner buffet featuring an array of Sonoma County-grown products followed. The Farm Bureau Hall of Fame was presented posthumously to Al Gerhardt, the Farm Family of the Year Award was presented to the DeBernardi Family and the Luther Burbank Conservation Award was presented to Doug McIlroy. Funds raised from this event furthers Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s goal of preserving agriculture lands, providing agriculture education for youth of all ages and protecting clean water for the future.


  1. Sonoma County Fair Junior Awards Breakfast: On August 12, 2018 the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, in partnership with the Sonoma County Fair and the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County, presented nearly 100 awards to outstanding 4-H and FFA Sonoma County Fair exhibitors at the Santa Rosa Vet’s Memorial Building. More than 600 exhibitors, parents, 4-H leaders and FFA advisors attended the awards breakfast to celebrate the hard work and many accomplishments of junior exhibitors. The award ceremony ended with the presentation of the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County’s 2018 Gold Cup Award to Megan Binford. The award honors the outstanding exhibitor at the Sonoma County Fair.


  1. Beyond the Fence Line: On October 29, 2018 the Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted Beyond the Fence Line to help prepare farmers and ranchers for the possibility of activists targeting their property or business. Nearly 80 attendees gathered at SRJC’s Shone Farm and participated in the workshop. A huge thank you to our speakers Hannah Thompson-Weeman from Animal Agriculture Alliance, Mike Weber from Weber Family Farms, Brian Sobel from Sobel Communications, Tina Wallis, Sonoma County Chief Deputy District Attorney Troye Shaffer, and Sonoma County Sheriff’s Field Services Captain Jim Naugle.


  1. Harvest Celebration Dinner & Annual Meeting: On November 8, 2018 the Sonoma County Farm Bureau hosted the Harvest Celebration Dinner & Annual Meeting at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Saralee & Richard’s Barn. Attendees dined with friends old and new, listened to keynote speaker Tim Hammerich, honored and thanked our outgoing President Steve Dutton for his two years of service, welcomed the 2019-2020 President-Elect, Jeff Carlton, and celebrated another successful year for Sonoma County agriculture.


  1. Scholarships: In 2018, the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County awarded 41 top students from Sonoma and Marin Counties pursuing higher education in agricultural related fields with a total $159,750 worth of scholarships. All recipients are graduating high school seniors and students continuing their education at a four-year university or the Santa Rosa Junior College. Scholarship winners are majoring in a diverse range of agricultural majors. The Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County, a nonprofit charitable foundation, administers scholarships provided by organizations, businesses and individuals to assist deserving students in their agriculture education. The Farm Bureau Foundation was established in 2006, and this year’s awards reflect the tremendous generosity of donors who want to support and develop the next generation of agricultural leaders.


AUGUST 2018:

Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Revised Local Agency Management Plan (LAMP):
As previously reported, the Board of Supervisors approved an extension for submission of the OWTS LAMP to the Regional Water Board. The SCFB board has authorized funding toward working with technical experts to develop a LAMP that meets the state requirements, but does not over-regulate local landowners on septic systems and other wastewater treatment systems. This work will be done in conjunction with other organizations interested in this project.


Groundwater Sustainability Agencies:
The Sonoma County Farm Bureau board is closely monitoring the work of the 3 current GSA boards and the potential for more GSA boards to be required. Along with many other partner organizations, we are advocating for there to be one GSA that manages all the planning and monitoring for all the basins in our county. To ensure that agriculture has a seat on the GSA board, the SCFB is providing financial support to the Gold Ridge RCD and the Sonoma County Resource Conservation District.


Agricultural/Animal Rights Activists
To better assist our local agricultural community, the Farm Bureau is developing a series of educational programs and resources to help farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists be prepared for any potential protests on their property. Keep updated through our weekly e-blasts or follow us on Facebook at


North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
On July 11th, Executive Director Tesconi provided comment on Farm Bureau’s support of the NCRWQCB staffs’ proposed plan for the Laguna Water Quality Trading (WQT) Framework.


Farmworker Housing
On Friday, July 20th, Executive Director Tesconi and Sara Neagu-Reed, Federal Legislative Associate with California Farm Bureau, toured the Ortiz Family Plaza in Windsor and Harvest Grove in Healdsburg. Both housing communities provide farmworker permanent housing and were built with public funding. Legislative Associate Neagu-Reed was impressed with the effort that Sonoma County has put toward farmworker housing and viewed these facilities as models for other programs that could be developed throughout the state.



Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Revised Local Agency Management Plan (LAMP):
At their May 22nd meeting, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors considered revisions to the Sonoma County Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Manual (OWTS) Local Agency Management Plan (LAMP). These revisions to the County manual was in response to enhanced requirements imposed by the California State Water Resources Board. SCFB joined other organizations in expressing concerns about the new requirements outlined in the LAMP and requested a six-month extension of adoption of the plan to allow for more stakeholder engagement. The Board of Supervisors supported our extension request and formed an Ad-Hoc Committee with Supervisor Rabbitt and Supervisor Hopkins as the appointed members.


Our initial review of the revised manual indicates that there are major revisions to the requirements with dramatic shifts from prior framework and we are concerned with the stringent regulations being proposed for voluntary septic system repairs. SCFB and technical advisors will represent farmers and rural landowners in advocating for less restrictive requirements while ensuring these local regulations comply with state requirements.


Groundwater Sustainability Agencies and Groundwater Management Plans:
DWR recently released its draft recommendations for SGMA reprioritization and Sonoma County figured prominently in their recommendations. Unfortunately, Alexander Valley, Wilson Grove Highlands and Dry Creek were upgraded to medium priority and now must comply with SGMA. In addition, the Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley, and Sonoma Valley Basins were increased to high priority. There will be a two-month public comment with final prioritization in mid-October. SCFB will be working with agriculture stakeholders to provide written comment on these draft recommendations.


You may make you public comments online at:
OR visit:
Contact the CA Dept. of Water Resources at: General Inquiries: OR (916) 653-5791


Proposed Housing Bond:
In response to concerns expressed by the SCFB board and other organizations, the Housing Bond Ad Hoc Committee is considering various mechanisms to fund the housing bond. These proposed funding methods are intended to be less obtrusive on landowners. At their May meeting, the SCFB Board voted to oppose a countywide housing bond regardless of the funding mechanism proposed. We content that agriculture is the only local industry that has made significant progress with remarkable success toward workforce housing and the proposed bond fee structure unjustly overtaxes all farmers, wineries and landowners. Instead of seeking additional funding, our board would like to see public agencies more effectively manage the housing-designated funds that are already collected.


State of California Water Board, Waste Management Plans (WMP) for Dairies: We are working closely with our local dairy farmers and the North Coast Regional Water Board on a Waste Management Plan (WMP) that will blanket existing dairies under one permit. For decades, dairies have been following effective waste management practices and any additional regulatory requirements put on these operations is unjustified. Most notable is the inclusion of language related to AB52, a bill passed in 2014 that added the requirement for tribal consultation into CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). The draft Waste Management Plan (WMP) being discussed has language that includes tribal oversight of waste management on dairies. SCFB is concerned about the inclusion of this requirement in the draft WMP, and we are working with water board staff, Western United Dairyman and California Farm Bureau Federation to eliminate this requirement.


City of Santa Rosa, Reclaimed Water Program:
The Farm Bureau held a meeting for all ag users who participate in the City of Santa Rosa Reclaimed Water Program. Working together, we plan on solidifying contractual language, rate information and best management practices that will support the diverse needs of the various commodities that use this water. An educational outreach campaign will also be developed to educate the public and city officials about the benefits provided by agriculture using this recycled resource.


Agricultural/Animal Rights Activists
To better assist our local agricultural community, the Farm Bureau is developing a series of educational programs and resources to help farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists be prepared for any potential protests on their property. Keep updated through our weekly e-blasts or follow up on Facebook at

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