As published in: Westside Connect
Never apologize for being a farmer
Posted: Monday, March 26, 2018 11:09 am
BY ADAM GRAY/21st DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE
As someone who was born and raised in the Valley, the economic and social values of agriculture are part of who I am. Accountability for our actions is part of our way of life. If you don’t work hard, you don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that.
Unfortunately, folks in Sacramento don’t always remember the rules of the game. They demonize successful farmers as “Big Ag.” They claim we waste water, forgetting that irrigation is what puts food on their tables. That’s not waste – it’s hard work.
They want us to make sacrifices they would never ask of other industries, and they want us to make them without any of the help they provide to other industries. When Hollywood started filming more of its movies outside of California, the Legislature provided hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of incentives to bring them back.
I once asked if we could do something similar for the dairy industry, which is being forced to either consolidate or leave the state. My proposal went nowhere.
Farmers in the Valley know the truth, but even we are guilty of sometimes buying into Sacramento’s untrue narrative. When now-Senator Kamala Harris was running for office, she came to Modesto to meet and discuss agricultural issues at a round-table forum. As local farmers introduced themselves, each one qualified their success by referring to their operations as “small, family farms” even though many were large operations.
When it was my turn, I felt compelled to share an observation with the Senator: Valley farmers feel the need to apologize for their success. Surely, major companies in the Bay Area are not referring to themselves as “small, family tech firms.”