COVID, water, regulations challenge us

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by David Strecker, SJFB President

March brings us to the one year anniversary of COVID-19. The only thing more troubling than dealing with this for 12 months now is the uncertainty of when it will all end. In the beginning of March 2020, we had just heard of a cruise ship being brought into the Port of Oakland and all the passengers being isolated on a military base.

The middle of the month brought on canceled events all across the country which led into a nationwide lockdown. As chaotic and stressful as this pandemic has been, I did feel good that we as farmers and ranchers are essential services. It felt good when someone would just thank me for being a farmer.

The office has been receiving numerous phone calls from those who are interested in receiving the vaccine. A lot has changed in the last couple of months that has pushed agriculture aside. In late February, only 500 agriculture workers, age 50 and up, were allowed to receive the vaccine. Future availability and who will be allowed to receive it seems to be constantly changing.

If you are interested in the vaccine for yourself or your workers, please stay in contact with the SJFB office. You may see some surveys in our Friday Review or by email. We are in contact with county officials who are coordinating these efforts. COVID-19 has certainly tried our patience!

Water is always a concern to all of us. Going into late 2020 our nerves were certainly being tested. A couple of nice storms certainly helped. February and early March is perfect for blossom season, but as March goes on and into early spring, we are all hoping for a lot more snow to fall in the Sierra. Timely showers up until the busy season would also be welcomed here in the valley. Preliminary allotments of water are being released and those numbers certainly justify the need for additional snow pack.

The new year has brought on several new rules regarding agriculture wages and overtime. Sacramento certainly did not realize the impact and pain this would cause to the workers. This has been an ongoing topic of discussion for Farm Bureau throughout the state for several years now. Staff and officers have repeatedly talked to state officials that the new rules have done only harm and have not helped anyone.

In order for us to possibly find a reprieve, we need the stories of workers and families that this has hurt. I have spoken to several of my neighbors and members across the county. Something has to change and we need your help to relay that message. 

It has been a year since I have seen most of you. Typically this time of year we are doing our Farm Center dinners. Obviously normal life is still a ways off. We will still be installing directors and will have an annual meeting of some sort again.

As always, please communicate with what you are witnessing in the fields. As our ways of communicating have been drastically changed, our Friday Reviews are constantly being updated with new information. If you do not receive that email, please contact the office to begin receiving it. Please take care and hope to see you all soon!