Happy New Year! Hope that everyone was able to have a safe and enjoyable holiday. The new year begins always with new rules and regulations. I’m wondering if this has always been the case. It seems like every year we have more new rules/regulations to deal with in addition to currently existing ones. All this resulting in more paperwork, more training and things to implement. Whether it is a labor, pesticides, water use, water quality, air quality, food safety, things keep getting added on. Most regulating agencies say they only add minor costs, consume little time to implement. This may be true for some regulations but when you add not just one but a multitude of regulations, the result is a daunting task that most people get overwhelmed by and just feel like giving up. Numerous studies have tried to quantify the time and the cost of regulations in total but the resulting conclusions are mostly estimated and nothing one can use to calculate an actual number.
Growing a crop entails many things such as weather conditions, pest, disease, labor availability and market prices which consumes the majority of a farmer’s time. Complying with regulations becomes the job in addition to growing a crop and/or raising animals. Especially a smaller farmer, how do you begin to even know all of the regulations one is under? Many forms and reports that seem very similar have to be filled out and some sort of payment paid. There really isn’t one agency, its various local, state and federal agencies, the alphabet soup of acronyms that act as independent regulators. Every agency has its bureaucracy and has various interpretations on the laws its tasked to implement. The frustrating part is a simple question takes numerous communications and you probably won’t get the same answer from each of person that you ask. It seems like many times each of these agencies is just an organization to provide jobs to those that work there. How many times has a government agency disappeared? It usually reappears somehow with another “name” perhaps under another umbrella agency.
The state of California being the most agriculturally productive state in the nation has more regulations and laws than anybody else. Since the state has very large population with no connection to agriculture as was the case in the past, every year there are numerous proposed regulations that maybe sound good on paper but really don’t solve a particular problem and cause numerous others problems (law of unintended consequences). Farmers, just by the nature of what they do must adapt but it makes it a lot less enjoyable to spend a good majority of your time trying to figure out what more you’ll have to do with every new regulation that is added.