Part One: Politics of Farming: Donald’s Letter to the Farm Bureau

Paul Wenger, President January 22, 2012
California Farm Bureau Federation
2300 River Plaza Drive
Sacramento Ca. 95833
Dear Mr. Wenger,
We have been farmers in California for the past 25 year and have been members of the Farm Bureau most of that time. My wife, Patricia and I are from farm families in the Midwest, who have farmed for uncounted generations.
I want to inform you of our objections to the forming and funding of a FARM PAC that would undo what you in your letter refer to as the “regulatory morass that challenges all of us.”  We are well informed of the ideologies that have divided our country politically. This would appear to be part of that divisiveness. We request clarification of what is meant by “regulatory morass”. In your letter you infer that this Pac is not politically partisan; but the way you appeal for support in your letter this would appear to be extremely Republican and not representative of us or the many more progressive and democratic leaning Californians, both in farming and outside of farming – whose support we need.
To bring clarity to the ‘regulatory’ situation as we now experience it in California I ask that you to give your attention to the following:
Re-establishment of Banking and Wall Street Financial Regulations: The recent financial implosions and resulting unemployment have affected small and middle class farming operations, both in the markets for what we grow and for our family investments.
County Zoning Regulations: In Napa, some two decades ago, the farmers in Napa legislated for control of urban development and as a result we have preserved farm land and retained land values compatible with grape growing in the Napa Valley.
Highway Traffic Regulation: We need regulation to allow safe use of roads and highways for trucks and moving of farm equipment, which is frequent in Napa.   
Regulation of Herbicides and Pesticides: These regulations have served to inform us of the dangers inherent in the use of these products, both for the health of our workers, our family members and the quality of the food we grow. We are now certified Organic and have not experienced any crop loss or reduced crop due to organic farming in 20 years.
Regulation of the Health Insurance Industry: Health care remains to be too expensive; but we expect the recent legislation in Washington, as it is implemented, will tend to control costs if not bring it down. We insure our full time farm workers, so this regulation is important to us as farmers.
Regulation of Air Quality and Global Warming; This includes the recent regulation of diesel powered farming equipment.  We accept the findings of science as being the most factual information we have. If global warming continues, farming in California, as we know it, will
be turned ‘upside down’.
Regulations for Control of Harmful and Deadly Bacteria and Contaminents in Food Products: When contaminated food products come into consumer’s kitchens, entire segments of the farming industry are decimated. Enough said here.
OSHA Work Place Regulations: These regulations are useful in reducing and controlling loss of employees time on the job, injuries and health care costs. 
A Regulated Insurance Industry: We currently have an Insurance Commissioner in California that has served both the wealthy and our lower income groups. It should have been legislated for the Health insurance industry to keep costs down, for employers and employees. 
Regulation of Immigration of Farm Workers: Nationally, the call has been for more regulation, but here in California we know that immigration from Mexico, of both those who come here with approval or without papers have made agriculture in California what it is today. There needs to be more regulation and control, but it is not clear where the Farm Bureau stands with the Administration’s national program. 
We are Californians as well as being farmers and Farm Bureau members. We are forward looking and tend to be reasonable and try to minimize our differences. To maintain our California spirit we need clarity and a decent level of transparency in our lobbying efforts. I’m not at all convinced this Farm Pac will do any of that.
Donald Harms and Patricia Damery,  
Harms Vineyards, Napa 

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