By David Strecker, SJFB President
August is typically very predictable in what will be happening in San Joaquin Counties agriculture community. Whether it is grapes being picked, nuts being shaken or tomato trucks rolling, things begin to get very busy. Another predictable thing is there is typically a large wildfire burning somewhere in the state. As the year 2020 continues to be the year of the unpredictable, it makes sense that one of the largest fires in the history of the state would encompass part of San Joaquin County.
At the time I’m writing this article, the SCU Lightning Complex Fire has burned over 368,000 acres through five counties and is only 35% contained. The loss of buildings has been minimal compared to fires in the past, however, the loss in grazable land will be tremendous. The number of animals lost will not be known for some time.
The sleepless nights and stress put on the ranchers impacted by this fire is never a good thing let alone in a year like this with so much going on. With a fire so close and several others buring in the region, the entire county became engulfed with smoke. As employers, we are required to monitor the air quality and provide proper face masks to our employees. Seems simple in a normal year, however, with a mask shortage approaching seven months and most likely into the new year, you can’t make this stuff up.
The year 2020 just keeps on giving! There is always the question of crop damage due to smoke, but the health of our families and workers is the most important. Any crop damage will most likely be a result of the heat that brought us the thunderstorms that created the fires. The weather has cooperated the past couple of days and the sky’s seem to be clearing. Hopefully we can get through the rest of the year fire free.
I have been continually writing about the unpredictably of 2020. One thing that is predictable in 2020 is if Proposition 15 passes, Prop 15 will impact agriculture!!! Whether it is a packing shed, your new irrigation system or a barn, your property taxes will go up.
San Joaquin Farm Bureau has already opposed Prop 15. We have contributed to CA Family Farmers Against Prop 15. This is a campaign put together by California Farm Bureau, Western Growers and the Agriculture Council of California. This will be a very important topic until the election in November.
Our local Farmers United PAC is now involved with this and you will start to see campaign material showing up in the mail opposed to Prop 15. Your help is needed. California Farm Bureau has already sent out mailers looking for donations to their PAC to fight this. We will be doing the same, but more importantly, we need you to talk to your families, your neighbors and anyone you can get through to. VOTE NO on PROP 15!
The next couple of months will be very busy for many of us. Please continue to work safely. Temporary testing sites will be popping up throughout the county for farm workers to be tested for COVID-19. We will be emailing and contacting you with these locations and times. In the meantime, if you experience any problems or have any questions regarding COVID-19 and agriculture, please contact the San Joaquin Farm Bureau office. We will help however we can.
Additionally the San Joaquin Agriculture Commissioner’s Office has been able to provide some N-95 masks. You should have received notice to contact the commissioner’s office to be able to receive some of these masks. We will continue to let membership know if these types of things become available. We also have masks at the SJFB office by appointment only, so give us a call.
Please be safe and Farm On!