Farm Bureau opposes Yuba County ag land measure
A Yuba County ballot measure intended to preserve open space and agricultural land has what some might consider an unlikely opponent: the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau.
Last week, the bureau's directors voted to oppose the Nov. 6 ballot measure after initially taking a neutral position.
"The vagueness of Measure T suggests that job-creating events such as putting in a prune dehydrator could only occur after an election," the board's president, Jon Munger, wrote in a letter dated Thursday, explaining the board's decision.
"Currently, the Board of Supervisors has the authority to make these types of decisions and can weigh the facts after a public discussion," the letter states. "This process should remain intact."
Munger's letter says the board voted to oppose the measure after hearing presentations from supporters and opponents. Yuba County Supervisor Roger Abe and former farm bureau board member Charley Mathews Jr. spoke against the measure.
The letter did not indicate what the actual vote was or how individual board members voted.
Yuba County Supervisor Hal Stocker, the measure's principal proponent, said he was disappointed but not surprised.
"I have a question about how much they represent Yuba County farmers," Stocker said, explaining he believes much of the board consists of Sutter County farmers.
Measure T would require a ballot measure for voters whenever a development proposal required rezoning lands defined in the county's 2030 General Plan update as agricultural or open space.
Because those conditions would also apply to conditional-use permits, they could result in a special election, with accompanying costs, for relatively small improvements to a farm, the bureau's letter stated.
But a prune dehydrator is an ag use, so it wouldn't be affected by the measure at all, Stocker said.
Mathews, who is a member of the Measure T-opposition group Yuba County Alliance for Property Rights, said the problem isn't with the measure's intent, but its language.
"I'd like to see something more firm," said Mathews, a District 10/Hallwood rice farmer who was worried about the measure's exemptions for city annexations. "The Board of Supervisors, that's kind of their job."
A similar measure approved in Napa County is also a bad template because the economies are different, Mathews said, explaining in Napa County there was far more pressure to develop rather than keep farmland.
"The way we protect farmland here is having a Board of Supervisors and a General Plan everyone agrees on," he said.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.