Agriculture is Essential to Life

Written By: Jeff Carlton, President
Published: May 1, 2020

How much more can we take in Sonoma County? I did not believe I would be writing about the same topic two months in row, but here we are. The Coronavirus or COVID-19 has taken over everyone’s lives around the world.  Thank you to all in the healthcare industry who continue to work and care for those who are impacted.  Thankfully, we are better off in Sonoma County and California than other areas of the United States. Between fires, floods and now pandemics we’ve seen our fair share of crises here.

I am thankful that agriculture is seen as an essential service during this time. However, I think we can agree that agriculture is always essential to our lives. Crisis or not, farmers are always out there providing us with a safe, healthy food supply.  I would ask, “If agriculture is such an essential service, then why are farmers regulated so extensively here in California?” I take pride in the fact that farmers and ranchers are able to innovate in order to navigate these regulatory waters, but why must that be so? Right now is a good opportunity to engage our legislators to try and achieve some regulatory rollback. How often do we get lawmakers to pass something that is solely for agriculture where we take a step forward and not backwards? It’s always something to minimize the damage that legislation does to us. How often do ranchers try to get a bill passed that requires everyone to eat meat once or twice a week, or dairymen who want everyone to drink milk with every meal, or a vineyard owner who requires everyone to drink a bottle of wine with every dinner? The answer is never. We don’t try and force our way of life onto all of society the way legislators or environmentalists love to do to us on a daily basis.  Now more than ever it is apparent that we need to maintain a local and reliable food supply. To help accomplish this we definitely need more processing facilities here in Sonoma County.  Let’s loosen up some of the regulations that make these facilities costly to maintain and develop so that we can have the infrastructure that is needed.

Many businesses (agriculture included) and the economy are hurting right now.  It is not like a car that you can just turn a key and start it up again when you want.  It will be a very slow turnaround, and some will go away and never recover at all.  I would say that any job that puts food on the table is an essential job. You can be responsible, wear masks, practice social distance and make exceptions for the very vulnerable, but we need to get people back to work. I believe it can be done responsibly and safely. If we don’t open the economy back up very soon, the cure may be worse than the disease.

Please visit our website to view an up to date list of COVID-19 resources

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To represent, protect and advance the social, economic and educational interests of the farmers and ranchers of Sonoma County.