By Doug Beretta, President
If you are an agricultural business or supporter, I know that you have already felt the attack on Sonoma County Agriculture from many directions. One thing I would like each one of you to do is tell your story to friends, customers, and neighbors. We are in a constant battle to defend agriculture here at home and at the state and national levels. As our population moves further away from production ag, they only know what they see and read. Most of the time this is misinformation brought to the limelight by activists who don’t believe in animal agriculture, or that growing grapes is not good for the county.
Sonoma County has been an agricultural community for decades. Have you ever looked at our county seal? “Agriculture” is the first word inside the circle of the seal. That tells me agriculture is pretty damn important to the viability of this county. But every day we have groups and people that have moved here trying to change that. A lot of times it is groups or people that don’t even live here. Activists prey on the emotions of people who are so far removed from the farm that they really don’t even know where their food comes from. This is dangerous, especially at the ballot box. The problem with this is whoever has the most money usually wins, and most of the time their message is false but most people don’t do their homework about the issue before they vote.
Here are several issues that the Sonoma County Farm Bureau has been fighting for or working on:
WELL ORDINANCE- Because of a lawsuit, the county had to come up with new rules and standards on wells and water conservation measures moving forward. We spent hours fighting for agriculture and our rural property owners.
AG ACCESS VERIFICATION ID PROGRAM (used during a fire event)- We fought for access to our properties for specific allowable activities. Most people would see the common sense in this, but labor groups tried to derail our efforts by using emotion and lies of how we treat employees.
LOCAL COASTAL PLAN- We fought against the quietly emphasized enhanced public access and right of way on private properties. We had to fight back on where and how fences were constructed along private property lines. Thanks to some of our members we were able to expose some collusion by employees within agencies that were writing this plan.
DxE ACTIVITY- While we await the result of the criminal trial starting next week in Sonoma County Superior Court, we continue to stay apprised of various activism activities and collaborate with local, state, and national organizations to protect our local poultry and dairy farmers and all who raise animals for food and by-products. We notify our members when we hear of such activities planned for or taking place in the area or nearby. This is why it is important to talk with your neighbors and friends so they can also give you a heads-up if there is activity around your property.
CURRENT BALLOT PETITION- There is a ballot petition currently being circulated that if placed on the ballot and passed will eliminate all large and medium-sized CAFO /AFO operations in the county. The affected species are dairy cattle, beef cattle, poultry, duck, and swine. This is designed to be a county ordinance ONLY!! While the person on record for filing the petition notice has a Sonoma County address, she is the pawn for larger groups and other people from outside the county wanting to push their opinions on others. In doing so, they are trying to tell us- Sonoma County residents- what and how our county should live.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? First off, if you hear of issues like these, please contact the Sonoma County Farm Bureau office. Next, if you are approached for any reason at a grocery store or other business that you frequent don’t sign a petition to put something on a ballot if you don’t educate yourself first. Once they get it on the ballot it will take hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat it. Again, this is the time to talk to your friends and neighbors so they don’t sign these things either. Most important of all is that Sonoma County Farm Bureau needs you as a member and for you to encourage others to join too! Sonoma County Farm Bureau is going to need your support (monetarily and physically) to continue to fight for what we all feel Sonoma County Agriculture should look like now and into the future.
Don’t be afraid to tell YOUR story of what you do on your farm or ranch!!