Executive Address – June 2014

It’s Time to Gear Up for More Blackmail…Is Everyone You Know a Farm Bureau Member?

In 2002-2005, I had to the distinguished honor of serving as Staff to the Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee.  It was in this year, and again in 2006 while serving in the White House, that I last saw TRUE unity in advocacy for agriculture’s sovereign right to use water.  The fight came down to the government’s attempt to control this precious resource –and was wielded on high from a power that causes a shudder of fear from every farmer….the E.P.A.  The Environmental Protection Agency’s mission is to protect the health of humans and our environments.  But on these very special occasions, the EPA had conspired with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACoE), to regulate any and nearly all potential pollutant point sources of water as “waters of the U.S.,” and collectively managed to get themselves involved in two major Supreme Court cases that were so toxic to the agricultural community, that over $100 MILLION dollars was spent on attorney’s fees in two years attempting to get briefs ready for the Supremes. 
This was an astonishing figure over a decade ago –but WE WON.  We successfully kept the EPA and the USACoE from overstepping their authority and claiming jurisdiction over our front porch. But it was through a unified action by agriculture that helped to achieve victory.  Most of the money raised to file the briefs and lobby Congress was through the Farm Bureau’s PAC funds, as well as individual donations to local county farm bureaus.   The result has been a somewhat quiet 10 years regarding water regulation, until now.
Out of the proverbial government shadows, our industry has found itself under siege once again.  This time –the old issue of Federal jurisdiction of waterways, as well as a new burgeoning industry of surface and groundwater regulating, has begun to take its strangle hold once again.  The EPA has issued new rules that will essentially place everything into its jurisdictional waterways –and I mean everything; irrigation canals, ditches, drains, even golf course runoffs and run off from your house may become jurisdictional waters of the U.S.   In our cozy little County of Madera, the fight over leaky drip systems becoming jurisdictional and therefore not subject to repair –has been brought to my doorstep.  The Regional Water Quality Control Board continues to tighten its grip from regulating surface water to extending their control over groundwater.  This control means you either register with a local coalition (or therefore subject yourself to full government oversight), or be fined and placed into prison.  I’ve even had to fight for our county dairymen to be able to harvest their silage on time because they had one too many blackbirds in their fields.
The point to my tirade –is that I can fight none of these things without my members’ full support.  To which I also need a vibrant membership base so I can spread my resources as far as possible.  If you have multiple operations farming in Madera County and are receiving income from agriculture –don’t they benefit from our collective representation?  If you have multiple family members, near or far, also benefiting from agriculture in some capacity –wouldn’t it be wisest to invest in their future income? 
When we fight together –we win together, and there are huge fights coming.  I’m always available to any of our members –its an open door.  Please call the office (559) 674-8871, to make an appointment to see me. 

Anja K. Raudabaugh
Executive Director

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