Agriculture in Sonoma County is ever changing. Just as many of our farms have changed what we grow and raise, we also slowly see a change in the farmers and farm families in our county. There are legacy families that have farmed here for over a century, but most of us have roots that date back decades. As older generations of farmers retire many are not fortunate enough to have children or family that wants to put in the hard work and long hours that agriculture demands. These farms transition to new ownership. Some get purchased by neighboring farm families and some by new residents of Sonoma County. Many get leased to neighbors or hire management companies to farm. Some turn into lifestyle properties or loose there agricultural use entirely.
The Sonoma County Farm Bureau like all Farm Bureaus is a member based organization that is represented almost entirely by farmers and ranchers. Unfortunately, with constant changes and challenges facing Sonoma County agriculture (and agriculture across the state) there tend to be fewer farmers each year. Very recently there has been a flight of some of our urban neighbors into counties like Sonoma, but the number of people entering agriculture does not offset the numbers we lose every year.
In response to the decline in farmers and ranchers in our county, Sonoma County Farm Bureau created “Friend of Farm Bureau”. This gives non-agriculturalist an opportunity to receive information and help support our mission; to keep agriculture part of Sonoma County’s landscape for generations to come. We know we have lots of friends in non-ag communities that support us in many different capacities. “Friend of Farm Bureau” gives those non-ag supporters a chance to feel a part of Farm Bureau.
“Friends” will not receive the benefits of a full Farm Bureau membership when it comes to insurance discounts or other benefits. “Friends” receive the electronic version of the Sonoma Marin Farm News, event e-blasts and community call to action alerts as well as our new Friend of Farm Bureau bumper sticker!
It costs $25.00 per year to become a “Friend of Farm Bureau”. This friendship is absolutely not a replacement for anyone that is an existing member. It is a tool to reach out to the local community so they can show their support for what we do. I think every person shopping at a farmers market should be a Friend of Farm Bureau. So should everyone that enjoys a glass of Sonoma County Wine or Sonoma cheese. Everyone with family that works in hospitality or tourism too as those jobs are dependent on the rich agricultural landscape that has made Sonoma County such a spectacular tourist destination.
Farm Bureau needs more urban support in order to be sustainable. As you all know ag is constantly under attack whether it is additional government regulation or taxation. It seems the encumbrances in agriculture continue to grow. We will need the help of our urban and suburban neighbors in the future to preserve the landscape of Sonoma County. I challenge every member of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau to help sell ONE “Friend of Farm Bureau” to someone who loves agriculture but is otherwise not connected to the land. We all know someone like that and Farm Bureau is here to assist you in your efforts to recruit “Friends”. Please call Raven Castro at (707) 544-5575 to see how you can help!