As another farm closes, dozens of Central Valley families are now trying to figure out how to make ends meet.
In the end, Medeiros & Son Dairy in Hanford was forced to make the heart wrenching decision to cease its business operations in the face of mounting taxes, regulations and never ending state mandates that are suffocating America’s food producers. This is a story repeating itself at an alarming rate throughout California.
And it should come as no surprise, really, because it results from an all too familiar pattern.
State elected officials representing non-farming urban areas in California constantly introduce legislation impacting our agricultural centers. Their inexperience of farming, results in dramatic unintended consequences: Farms close, food prices spike, California becomes more reliant on foreign countries for food production, and tens of thousands of workers end up in the unemployment line.
While these laws and regulations may be well-intentioned, California’s politicians, and state regulators are dangerously detached from the actual impact and subsequent fallout created by legislation that ignores how farms actually function.
This detachment ultimately impacts not only local businesses, but also workers and their families who no longer have an opportunity to grab the first rung on the ladder to economic opportunity.
With each farm lost, fewer jobs are available for new and existing workers.
The opportunity created by farming for a new and growing workforce is in danger of disappearing with each farm that goes out of business. Farms, like other businesses, close down or move operations to another state or country.
How can California claim to care about its workforce or be a leader of fair labor and not care about the farms and the tens of thousands of hardworking workers who depended on the farm to support their families?
It is unconscionable to think California farmers can survive the constant onslaught on their businesses. These are family farms that offer the types of jobs that are rare – not just in the Central Valley – but also in urban areas where living wages are hard to come by.
Actions in Sacramento have consequences. Putting thousands of California farms out of production will have enormous consequences – not just in our growing regions, but also for those who live and buy food in such cities as Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
The well-to-do may be able to afford the consequences of these actions. But the same can’t be said for the middle and working class families who are dealing with the higher gas taxes, increased housing prices and limited opportunities to succeed.