This is more than a blog….this is a plea. I’m sharing a letter from a rancher in CA. Since our governor has recently vetoed the Williamson Act, farmers and ranchers all over the state are STUNNED. The Act was created to preserve farmland and to preserve agricultural freedom. Without it, farmers and ranchers have to pay taxes at the same rate as homeowners, etc., rather than based on what the land produces…..which means farmland all over the state may well fall to development and apportionment. That would be a loss to agriculture, but also to wildlife and Californians in general.

Please, please forward this letter to everyone you can…….I cannot tell you what abolishing the Williamson Act will do to everyone in agriculture in CA… is too devastating to even imagine. If you think food quality has been compromised before, this is the door that will open the floodgates to importing MORE and more and driving more and more farmers/ranchers out of the business.
Right now, it’s nearly impossible to make ends meet and yet, people STILL do not understand that agriculture is the PRIMARY contributor to ANY positive TRADE balance in the U.S. economy and CALIFORNIA cannot survive without its agriculture. So much negative press has impacted us that people don’t really give a sh— anymore, but this is an ominous turn of events. Beware….and NO MATTER what your political leanings at the moment, this crisis is LOOMING and it’s HUGE……but the truth is, NO ONE is paying attention to the outcome of the recent activities and its impact on agriculture, which, for the uninformed, DOES NOT BLEED this country; it provides products and goods that bring wealth and success to everyone else, from the GROUND UP… of the few industries that does so……and we are not asking for a handout, but merely the opportunity to keep working.
Subject: “Here in the real world, Arnold’s shuttin’ agriculture down”
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2009 11:47:05 -0700

To whoever will listen:

We all know that the Governor of my home state of California, Arnold Swartzenegger has finally signed a budget for this year. What is getting no attention in the press is what he is doing to agriculture in our state.

California is the 7th largest economy in the world, and agriculture makes up the greatest GDP in the state. Detroit has been hit hard in recent months as the media often points out (of course, they have the unions and the ear of Washington), but thanks to so many blind liberals and ignorant consumers in San Francisco and Los Angeles regions (the largest voting block in the state), as well as corrupt politicians, California could be the next to fall. When it goes, believe me, it’s going to up-end the nation.

I am from “far” Northern California outside of Redding and married into a cattle ranching family. My wife and her family have been running cows since the late 1800’s. Over the past several years California has become a place that is very Ag unfriendly (unless of course you grow wine grapes). Taxes, fees, and regulations make it next to impossible to make a living, while the price of everything else has sky-rocketed — and certainly no ‘stimulus’ help for people like us to try and hang in there.

Property taxes in California have always been difficult to pay, but last night Arnold line-item-vetoed a section of the budget that will make them impossble to pay for ranchers and farmers. In the early 20th century the Williamson Act was instituted which protected ranch and farm lands from being taxed at the same rate that commercial or residential property would be taxed at. Generally ranchers and farmers need larger pieces of land in order to produce the food the entire nation eats, and in order to keep food costs down and open land from readily being developed this Act has always been in place. Not anymore! It signals the beginning of the END for ranchers and farmers all over this state. Believe me, people need to hear this and respond, but do most consumers/Californians REALLY care about agriculture??? Believe it or not, they do not and their callous disregard for the industry will ultimately affect everyone as 1 out of every 4 jobs in CA is related to agriculture. No, people in this state care far more about more liberal projects than about people like us.

The end result will likely be hundreds of farms and ranches going out of business, and since the real estate market is in the tank, many of them may just be seized by the governement for back taxes. We have always known that our way of life is politically incorrect and under attack by Washington and Sacramento, but it goes deeper than that. Once the economy of California collapses and we are no longer the largest food producer in the nation, where will the food come from? Mexico, Argentina, even China? Once prices of food skyrocket and quality and safety plummet people may start to pay attention, but it will then be too late. By the way, that also means that wildlife and protecting open spaces in CA will be next to impossible as well, since landowners protect more than 75% of the migrating wildlife in this state.

And by the way, as I mentioned I married into ranching. When I’m not helping my wife and two daughters on the ranch, I teach high school science in the California Public School system. We need people all over to sit up and listen.

Thank you,

Matt Fowler
Ono, CA

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