Monday, March 31, 2014

Chavez on my mind, part II

Happy Cesar Chavez Day!

I have felt for some time that an opportunity exists for agriculture, agri-business and those of us on the left to work together, make common cause, and make new friends:  immigration reform.

In an article Saturday the New York Times
explored the impact of lack of such reforms on agriculture in California, with the number of workers declining, and the stable immigrant work force aging out of heavy labor in the fields - workers are just a decade behind the aging farmer population, pushing 50 while the farmers approach medicare age.

One of the happy upshots of this situation is that growers and agricultural advocacy and lobbying groups are getting fed up with the Republican impasse in Congress.  Generations of loyalty to the right on the part of Central Valley growers is being challenged by the aggregate behavior of Republicans.  There are, of course, exceptions - the Times article notes Congress members Valadao and Denham.  But the GOP could lose a key faction of supporters it it doesn't start moving on some sort of immigration reform.

Between the drought and the immigration impasse these are tough times for agriculture in California.  Beyond the present stresses, I wonder about the long term impact on our wallets, our environment and our civic life.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cesar Chavez on my mind

March 24-31, 2014

Water, water - not everywhere

It's raining here in Sonoma County this morning.  I figure where I live we have had about 12" of rain in February and March - which looks rather normal.  But we are still in the midst of a drought.  News this week from Quarter Acre Farm is that they are planting only crops which can be dry farmed.  That means fewer but tastier tomatoes - but no CSA subscriptions this year.

Locally we do not depend on Sierra Nevada snowpack, of which there is so very little this year.  But much of what America eats does.  The long term future of water in the Central Valley is probably not good, certainly fraught with dilemmas and trade-offs.  This article from farmer and writer David Mas Masumoto in last Sunday's Bee explains.