By Walt Stile
March/April Butte County Farm News
I don’t know about you, but when I started farming, I spent most of my time in the orchard. During my childhood, I had always spent my summer vacations working on the family farm, leading up to and through harvest, before heading back to school. When I made my decision to farm full time, it was an easy decision. I figured I could have summer vacation all year long.
As the years have gone by, I’ve found that I spend more and more time away from the place that I love. Instead I’m behind a computer screen trying, in vain, to be compliant with all the government regulations. Heck, it’s gotten so bad that I had to get an office so that I would have a place to store the countless forms and documents I need just incase some government official should knock on my door demanding any number of documents which I am now required to have on hand.
I use to think that I could solve all the worlds problems just spending the day on a tractor. Now, if I even get to operate a piece of equipment, my mind is troubled, as I keep wondering what new law or regulation have I inadvertently violated today. My mind is a clutter of acronyms: SGMA, FSMA, NMP, SVWQC, DPR, CUPA, SALC, BIT and WOTUS and a whole host of others. I dare anyone to tell me that they can traverse this current maze of regulations or the ones coming down the pipeline. No longer can we just go about our business and farm or ranch the way our forefathers did.
Thankfully, we have Farm Bureau on our side vigorously defending our right to earn a living. Through courses Farm Bureau offers, we can be educated of filing procedures, deadlines and other onerous regulations; avoiding costly fines, or worse yet, expensive legal battles. Farm Bureau also educates lawmakers and lobbies to protect the rights we hold dearly, locally and at both the state and federal Level.
Locally, we have tailgate meetings, with among others, CHP and the county agriculture department, where you can ask questions one on one to address a specific concern. Recently, Farm Bureau has teamed up with AgSafe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the agricultural community with resources to help navigate laws and regulations we now face. With a Farm Bureau membership and a dedicated phone number, I get answers to questions concerning worker safety, human resources, pesticide compliance and food safety.
But don’t think that’s all Farm Bureau does. As a member of this community Butte County Farm Bureau, like you, gives back to the community that supports us. When the fires struck Paradise, it was Farm Bureau that rose to the challenge, suppling feed and fencing for displaced animals. In March, we will have our annual Drive Thru Tri-Tip dinner with proceeds going for scholarships for students interested in an Ag education. In addition, we sponsor the Agribee™, a spelling bee with agricultural words and defintions for 4th and 5th graders. Butte County Farm Bureau also supports The Big Harvest, Common Threads North, Farm City Celebration, Sierra Oro Farm Trail, Butte County 4-H and FFA.
Another concern we all face is the increase in rural crime. How often have you arrived to your property to find equipment missing? Butte County Farm Bureau in conjunction with the Sheriff’s office and Chico Farm and Orchard have invested in SmartWaterCSI™, an invisible liquid that Farm Bureau members can apply to their property, which is only visible with a special ultra violet light. This liquid has a uniquely coded DNA which can identify the true owner. If you are a current ag member of the Butte County Farm Bureau and haven’t picked up your SmartWaterCSI kit yet, please do. This is a great opportunity to recover stolen property and get it returned.
If you’re already a member of Farm Bureau, we thank you! As a member, you are already familiar with all the hard work that is being done locally and at the state and federal levels to advocate and educate for a profession we hold deal to our hearts. If you’re not a Farm Bureau member, you need to ask yourself, why not? If your answer is I’m too small and only use labor contractors, think again. Thanks to AB 5, you may not be able to insulate yourself from employee/employer liability by using a labor contractor. Join Farm Bureau today and get the facts!