Air pollution control in SJV

Harry:

Regarding your Commentary “Onerous era of ag air pollution control begins” (Western Farm Press Feb. 7/Farm Press Daily) I'm with you 100 percent, and I think most other farmers are too.

This new air pollution tax on farmers infuriates me. Dean Florez did not do it alone; it was the whole dumb Democratic state-run government!

We can't stand by and let these things continue to happen. These anti-business/American laws hinder our right to try and make a living.

When dealing with water law the first person with rights to the water, has first rights to the water. Air should be the same in this case.

In the San Joaquin Valley, farmers and ranchers were here first. Hopefully some farm groups will challenge this law in court, perhaps using this angle.

Also I heard the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is going through the Farm Bureau to get the names and information of farmers, in order that they may pay their pollution extortion fees. Why would the Farm Bureau rat out there own members? Whose side are they on? Hey! Guys The SJVAPCD is not on our side, they are just another money hungry fine-driven bureaucracy! I have already heard fines from $10,000 to $12,000 imposed on farmers, after the pollution control inspection. These are farmers who didn't quite get the last three treated stakes out of his vine burn pile. Or the guy that forgot to get a little tree rope out of his orchard burn pile.

These were farmers trying to work with the pollution control district!

Some questions

Here's a few interesting things that people and farmers need to ask themselves:

  • Let's ban tobacco smoke. (Or does the government make money on that?)

  • We can all see that the smog backs up in Bakersfield, and it doesn't start in Fresno. Can someone say SAN FRANCISCO?

  • It's the cars stupid!

  • I want pollution credits for all the carbon scrubbing/oxygen producing plants I have on my farm.

  • I want pollution credits for roads that I have paved or used some other dust control measure on.

  • I want to sell my credits.

  • It's the cars stupid!

  • I don't want to spray water in front of my disk for dust control before I disk.

  • Why is the government trying to stop the carpooling of field workers and thus putting more cars on the road?

  • Let's log the forests a little, so one single fire season doesn't equal 15 years worth of burn days down here in the valley.

  • It's the cars stupid! Tax them. (Or would that go to the root of the problem?)

  • Do you like food?

We shouldn't apathetically sit by and allow this incremental tax to continue until it becomes a burden on our way of living. Dairy Associations, Grape and Tree Fruit League, Nisei Farmers League, Rice Commission, California Tree Fruit Agreement, California Alfalfa and Forage Association and the California Cotton Ginners and Grower Associations to name a few, need to take the lead in the, “No, we're not going to take it any more!” campaign now. We can't talk or deal with these bureaucrats; we have to make a stand. Let's nip this thing in the bud and resist this totally unfair tax on you the valley farmer.
Rick Jackson
Farmer, Kingsburg, Calif.

Wine supply, demand forecasts

Harry:

Maybe we need to find a forecaster that works two or three years ahead of the wine/wine grape supply cycle. The after-the-fact information makes it really difficult to manage economically.

Actually, this market is about as dependable as it can be. Our cycles may be a little difficult to characterize because we really do not have a lot of specific information on a timely basis. You have to read between the lines of a lot of information and make some assumptions in order to form an opinion and to make a decision.

For example, back when inventory was short, some wines were being released before Christmas the year that they were picked.

Today, most of us are still selling 2001 wines — the releases were last summer — about 18 months later than those short inventory days.

In reality, many of us still have six to 12 months of inventory adjustment to deal with. That keeps the market for the current vintage from becoming a celebration. The coastal ‘02 and ‘03 crops were small enough to make everyone anticipate being happy — when we market those wines we should get back “in sync” with the “normal” schedule. Right now the general market is able to wait until after bloom to see what 2004 looks like. There are varietal exceptions and there are brand exceptions.

Anyone depending on the bulk wine inventory now has to scurry to be sure that they get the kind of quality that was just sitting around a couple of years ago. Some varieties are in short supply, but they are relatively insignificant so they do not show up at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium presentations.

The brands are afraid that they will never recover their price points — the market is tough. And, the global nature of competition is overwhelming. But you can find articles about these problems with imports 20 years ago that spell some of the same gloom. We will have to experience all of the good news that was cited at the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium — reduced grape supply, young wine drinkers, stronger economy, weak dollar and, maybe, “60 Minutes” will do another follow-up for us. Then we will throw in Mother Nature's contribution to the mix and see what comes out.

I guarantee you that it will get better, and much better, and then it will get worse again. I know all of this; I just do not know when and to what degree and how it will effect me and my business!

Keep on having fun writing about crazy farmers — we ride cycles like cowboys ride bucking stock. We never know if we are going to make the eight seconds, but we believe that we will if our luck holds out.
Rich Smith
Valley Farm Management, Paraiso Springs Vineyards, Soledad, Calif.