Guest View: Yuba County agriculture needs more support
"Every minute, America loses more than an acre of farmland to urban sprawl and development. Farmland is the heart of our nation. We must protect it."
— Go to www.farmland.org, American Farmland Trust, to get your No Farms No Food bumper sticker
I am happy the Appeal-Democrat seized the torch and has printed some articles lately about the importance of preserving local farmland.
As was pointed out by the Appeal Democrat on June 14, agriculture is the number one economic asset in Yuba County, producing a record $212.9 million in 2011, up $14.7 million over the previous year.
Fifth-generation local farmer Joe Conant, who raises walnuts, rice, pears and cattle in Yuba and Sutter counties, said: "Without agriculture, most people don't realize it, (but) there wouldn't be very much in Yuba and Sutter counties. The trickle effect is huge."
It's calculated, with transportation, marketing and various services, that the Yuba County farming industry injected more than $866 million into the economy in 2011, or $2.4 million per day.
However, not all is peachy. Recent articles point out farmers and farm workers are at a political disadvantage because they represent only 1 percent of the American labor force.
Jeff Magill, Wheatland High School agriculture teacher, said there are "fewer farmers fighting to survive."
The Appeal-Democrat editorial board adds: Federal and state legislators, local planning commissioners, county supervisors and city councils should make major policy decisions to not only defend agriculture, but also to promote it. Well said.
As a long-term county supervisor (and UC Davis master gardener and agricultural enthusiast), I personally pledge to do all I can to promote local agriculture; and I am sure my colleagues on the board feel the same way.
I encourage all Yuba farmers to not be shy: Please let us know what the county can do to strengthen and preserve Yuba farming.
My number is 675-2282.
Yuba County Supervisor Hal Stocker lives in Challenge. Last year, he supported ballot Measure T, which aimed to preserve farmland and open spaces. Voters rejected it.