By Lee Heringer, Butte County Farm Bureau 1st Vice President
The Butte County Farm Bureau is represented by growers, farmers and ag business owners. We at BCFB are a part of the California Farm Bureau Federation, representing everything in the state from tree crops to timber, livestock to lettuce. Without membership at the local level, the County would be ill represented at the State level. That is the definition of grassroots. The BCFB Board is made up of your friends and neighbors. We reside in the furthest north areas of Vina to the southernmost reaches of Wyandotte sub basin, from the foothills to the east and west to the Sacramento River. We are farmers, ranchers, processors, bankers and ag industry professionals who take the time to study the issues and decide what we believe is the best course of action for our members. The county board is open for anyone who wants to take the time to look at the bigger picture and learn, in much more detail, about the industry that supports us all.
We here locally have been able to foster leadership and advocacy, at the local and state level, for our issues and be vocal enough to be heard. Work is being done every day on your behalf. It may not show sometimes, after all it is an uphill battle in California. The work of educating lawmakers, debating issues with regulators and legislators, lobbying for private property rights and against bur- densome laws and onerous taxes are responsibilities that Farm Bureau, both locally and at the State level, have been taking on for decades. We have a full time staff who work tirelessly on our issues. You’ve seen them on the news and you’ve seen them at meetings. They are hard at work defending our existence.
As we all know, it has become a full time job on the farm to simply remain compliant. Laws spring up every day deal- ing with issues we are all too aware of. The Food Safety Modernization Act for example, requires every farm to have someone on staff trained to recognize potential threats to food safety. This goes into such detail that wildlife intrusion into your fields and employee hand washing are included. Another example is the Farm Evaluation Survey and corresponding Sediment Erosion Plan if appropriate. We are lucky to have an irrigated education coordinator in the Butte County Farm Bureau office. In this capacity we are able to act as a local voice to State regulators, and help guide you through the process using public outreach meetings we’ve all attended, as well as shield you from further scrutiny.
Farming has become more than simply planting, growing, harvesting and selling. It has become a nearly daily battle of defending your right to farm, that what you are doing is important and necessary. There aren’t many industries under such an assault. Those that are have organizations defending their way of life and their livelihoods. We have Farm Bureau. Farm Bureau is known as the organization that is in the room when decisions are made. When there is something being decided upon, we have people in the room voicing our side. We may not win them all, but it’s not from lack of trying.
One cannot put their head down and ignore what’s coming. The State relies on farmers to do just that. They view California agricultures diversity of crops as a negative for us, banking on different segments of this industry fracturing and protecting their own. Many regulations and especially lawsuits are first introduced into the more rural areas without a lot of money or legal availability. The idea is to build up these easy wins while the rest of the State doesn’t pay attention, saying “that’s their problem.” Pretty soon, and with a full head of steam, the legal precedent is set and it is everybody’s problem.
Even if you are not interested in the politics, your membership dues go towards progreams you can benefit from, such as Grower Day, which pro- vides growers with valuable information as well as CE credits for PCA’s, CCA’s and BYS outreach hours. The Drive Thru BBQ’s, where all proceeds go to scholarships for local high school students bound for Ag related higher education.
You may not be the type who wants to speak up and voice your opinion, but it is important to support those who do it for you. You might not agree with everything the Farm Bureau does, but the overall goal is to continue the Butte County legacy of agriculture into the future. Join up and show your support for the industry that literally puts food on the table. Become involved, join the board, read Ag Alert, contribute to FARMPAC. Come to some meetings (it’s not a secret; they are the first Thursday of every month).
For those of you who are already members, we’d like to thank you for your support. You recognize the importance of the work being done behind the scenes advocating for our industry. For those of you who aren’t, I’d like to offer an invitation to join the fight, in whatever capacity you see fit. It’s never too late to join. Our membership coordinator, Amy Alves, can assist you with any questions you may have regarding your membership. Call her at the office or chat with any board member you may run into at the next meeting.