By Andrew Watkins, SJFB President
In July, we at SJFB like to take time to recognize youth in agriculture. Summertime in San Joaquin County is an especially exciting time, AgFest is here. The San Joaquin AgFest, Junior Show & Auction provides our county’s youth the opportunity to exhibit their livestock and vocational projects. The auction at the end of the week allows exhibitors to sell their livestock and receive awards for their projects. The annual event took place from June 10-17 at the SJC Fairgrounds.
There were over 950 exhibitors from 4H, FFA and Grange this year. The SJFB cooked a linguica lunch for the buyers at the auction. We think this is an important opportunity to thank the community for coming together to support our youth in agriculture.
The SJFB Foundation for Agricultural Education and the Agricultural Education Advisory Committee hosted the 2023 Ag in the Classroom Seminar. This opportunity gives teachers from San Joaquin County the opportunity to learn about agricultural and help them find resources to use agricultural examples and lessons in their own classroom. The course offers two upper division units and includes four days full of agricultural learning.
This year the teachers went on many tours including Stuyt Dairy, Garden Joy, Corto Olive, Delta College Farm, Kautz Ranch, Bear Creek Winery, Sunrise Fresh, Lodi Blooms, Duck Creek Nursery and MAG Farms. This year was the first time the course was held since the 2020 COVID hiatus. Thank you to all of the volunteers that made this event happen. The teachers and youth in San Joaquin County will greatly benefit from your efforts to promote agricultural education.
This month the Young Farmers and Ranchers will host their annual fundraiser. The YF&R’s Summer’s Bounty Fundraiser will be held at Intercostal Winery in Lodi on July 15.
On Aug. 13, we will also host the SJFB Grill and Chill Barbecue. We are inviting members to bring their family, friends and neighbors to a casual barbecue in the park at Micke Grove. Our continuous fundraising and membership efforts are so successful due to the support of members like you. We appreciate your support and efforts to promote agriculture in San Joaquin County.
On the legislative side, elected officials in Sacramento are considering multiple bills that could totally upend California’s water rights system. AB 1337 would allow the State Water Board to curtail water usage of riparian and pre-1914 water rights holders even if they have not declared a water emergency and during non-drought years. AB 460 would allow the State Water Board to curtail rights while severely restricting the rights holder’s right to due process, removing your ability to challenge the board’s decision in court. On top of these, SB 389 would allow the State Water Board staff to investigate any water right claim, including pre-1914 and riparian and even if it has not been challenged, to determine its validity.
Any one of these bills pose a dangerous threat to ag water throughout California but taken together they would destroy any certainty in our water rights system. This could affect not only water availability to both individuals and irrigation districts but how banks and other institutions value ag land in the future. Please take the time to reach out to Sacramento and let them know that you oppose these attacks on water for agriculture. If we won’t stand up for ourselves, we can’t expect others to do it for us!