Farming and Politics

Farming and Politics

Farmers have always been independent, grassroots kind of people, at least the farmers that I grew up with, and this meant that they were almost always Republican. It also left them wide open when Nixon’s administration pushed to cut the hedgerows, plow everything, get big. Many of the farmers I knew had to sell out after this (1960’s and 1970’s). They had mortgaged their farms to buy more land, crop prices dropped, and many lost their shirts. Small farms were no longer considered viable.

Oddly, we are back to the grassroots kind of politics, but this time it crosses political parties. Corporations have co-opted many aspects of our lives, not the least of which is farming. Monsanto convinced even my own father that he had to farm with genetically modified seed and use tons of chemicals in order to feed the world. Of course, most of what my father ended up growing (genetically modified corn and soybeans) was not for feeding the world.

In the Napa Valley venture capitalists and a few wealthy landowners are buying up remaining land for vineyards and wineries on hillsides with an implied legal threat to county government if expansions and plans are not approved. This unprecedented expansion threatens our groundwater supplies, our watersheds which restore groundwater, and increases carbon emissions with more tourism and energy usage. In fact, the County delayed plans for a Climate Action Plan because this could cause financial loss for wineries and the tourism industry.

So grassroots— the public— have to speak up. We farmers can no longer just tend our own acreage if we are to be responsible farmers. We will simply be bulldozed, as the major part of our country has been bulldozed by a few wealthy farmers using dangerous, toxic chemicals impacting the land and anyone nearby, to get very rich (and even supplemented by the Farm Bill). In the Napa Valley it will become a few wealthy corporations and individuals degrading our environment to make wine very few of us can afford and using labor who cannot afford to live within miles of the hotels, vineyards, restaurants and wineries where they work.

On March 10 the Napa County Board of Supervisors will meet with the Planning Commission for the first of several sessions to discuss the future of Napa. The Grand Coalition of 10-12 citizen groups will be there in full force to “take our place at the table”and make public comment on such issues as preserving watersheds, traffic, returning to a climate action plan, and, really, to insure that the public makes these kinds of decisions and not a few individuals with resources to insure approval and implementation of their own agendas. The Commons includes our watersheds, our air, our water, and it is time we all act to protect our community.

Join us! for public comment on March 10 (time to be announced, reserve the date!) or to hold a sign alerting everyone that it is time to take our place at the table!