GUEST opinion

Opinion
Oct 1, 2010
by WLJ

California Prop 23 will help save agriculture

As a longtime supporter of reforming and/or suspending AB (Assembly Bill) 32, I am proud to officially join the Yes on Prop 23 campaign as a legislative co-chair.

As a local wine grape grower and businessman, I have first-hand experience with how AB 32 is adversely impacting agriculture in the Central Valley. Just yesterday, I had a meeting with local San Joaquin winemakers who have been devastated by over-reaching air regulations that have imposed exorbitant fees and fines, costing them millions. So I was shocked when I read an op-ed in the Napa Valley Register from a winemaker opposing Prop 23.

This gentleman claims how wonderful AB 32 is for agriculture. I guess that’s why Prop 23 is supported by the California Cattlemen’s Association, California Citrus Mutual, California Dairy Campaign, California League of Food Processors, California Tomato Growers Association, Nisei Farmers League, Western Agricultural Processors Association, Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business of Santa Barbara, Ventura County Agricultural Association, and the Farm Bureaus of Kern, Sacramento, Stanislaus, Yuba, and Sutter counties, to name a few.

AB 32 is destroying farmers’ ability to grow, harvest, ship, and process our food. Agriculture is the economic engine that drives the Central Valley—I encourage anyone to drive through the Valley and ask some folks in the agriculture community what they think about AB 32 and how it is helping them.

It’s true; we don’t have the greatest air in the Valley, which is due to a number of factors. We want to be green, but it can’t come at the expense of our livelihood. Government needs to work with us to find solutions, not penalize us for trying to survive. Under AB 32, the ARB has spent more time finding ways to penalize us than help us and listen to our concerns.

I guess it’s easy to be green in Napa where everyone has a high income and all of their pollution is blown somewhere else by the ocean breeze, but I would encourage this gentleman to come down to Lodi to see what AB 32 is doing to us in the Valley before he speaks on behalf of all of agriculture.

This gentleman also notes that California’s water supply is stretched to the limit and energy costs continue to rise. He is right, and AB 32 will only worsen our ability to develop solutions to our water and energy problems by making construction and energy production more costly and difficult. He also implies that AB 32 will help renewable energy efforts in agriculture. I suggest he talk to our dairy industry to see how helpful regulators have been with their efforts to go green. Likewise, the same legislators that support AB 32 have twice rejected proposals to provide tax credits to small start up businesses that wish to manufacture biodiesel in the state. These regulators are more interested in making money off penalizing businesses than in developing solutions that work.

I think it’s interesting how opponents of Prop 23 say how it will permanently kill AB 32 or any other effort to improve our environment. All Prop 23 says is that AB 32 will be temporarily suspended until unemployment drops below 5.5 percent for a year (by the way, when AB 32 was passed in 2006, our unemployment level was at 4.8 percent). By opposing this simple, reasonable provision, I guess that means opponents to Prop 23 are really admitting that AB 32 along with other burdensome government regulations and over-taxation is destroying our economy so badly that unemployment will never get below 5.5 percent again. I think that’s the real question we need to ask.

Bill Berryhill California State Assemblyman 26th District

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