Agreeable as it seems that the recently-released California Agricultural Vision could be useful to set good public policy that preserves and protects the sustainability of California agriculture, the eight-page report is short on specifics, though not completely lacking in them.
The continued notion that farmers “must tell their story” is one repeated by many of the commissions and voluntary agricultural organizations across the state. Can we agree that part of this idea should include measurable results and targeted goals? If we’re simply telling our story to hear ourselves speak, then I’d argue we have better things to do.
Back to the purpose statement: “…There could be no better segment suited for the highest order of purpose than agriculture,” the report states. “Food – healthy and sustainable food – is the foundation not only for health and wellness, but also for allowing people and societies at large to thrive.”
How then do we move past truthful, feel-good statements like this into action that drives public policy and leads a state of 38 million people to embrace sustainable food production? When I say “sustainable” I mean the ability for future generations to remain in the business of farming
Stanford University Professor Victor Davis Hanson has articulately chronicled how “coastal elites” – the millions of people who live in California’s expensive coastal locations – have no apparent desire to see the connection between the fruits and vegetables on their plates and the farmers and farm workers who make it happen less than 100 miles from their expensive homes.
If we are to meet the nutritional and culinary needs of California’s diverse population and that of global consumers, as one of the report’s goals states, I’d say we’re already there from a purely productive aspect. The question then becomes “how do we sustain our production of safe and healthy food?”
That’s where public policy matters. Everything that happens in Sacramento and Washington D.C. should be predicated on ensuring that farmers are allowed to grow and sell food.
That means when laws are proposed to make it too costly or simply impossible for growers to employ people to pick, pluck, plant, and process their crops, these laws fail. It also means that when financial priorities are established, funding water infrastructure and supply, along with the roads upon which we transport food to market, happens before bullet trains.