The end of the legislative session and the governor's actions have reinforced the need for all farmers to become more politically active. While we have always had competition for our products, competition will be increasing in the near future and so will our costs. With the passage of a raising minimum wage bill compounded with AB 1066 which ends the exemption of agriculture employees being exempt from overtime until they have worked 10 hours for the day, California farmers will be forced to compete with products produced from other states with lower inputs, and foreign countries whom have drastically lower costs than we do.
It was quite obvious our legislature as a whole does not care about the people they represent, only their personal agendas. Over 400,000 farm workers were against AB 1066, but the United Farm Workers (UFW), a union representing less than 5000 workers, with no current active farm employment contracts, was able to persuade the legislature and the governor into supporting their way of thinking. Even the California Teachers Association, Secretary Vilsack, and Hillary Clinton (think about this come election time) weighed in on this issue against the CA farmer.
Vilsack himself was against a minimum wage increase and overtime for farm workers while governor of the number two producing agriculture state, Iowa. This is now the past, and we will never get ahead looking in the rearview mirror. I ask you to not only vote this fall and continue to be an advocate for agriculture, but to think about ways to influence others outside of your normal peers whom agree with your way of thinking. So many times those of us in agriculture are very good at "preaching to the choir" and then putting our heads down and going to work. This way of thinking needs to end.
I ask you to think about ways you can help control your own destiny. California Farm Bureau is the number one organization representing agriculture, and we need your help. This can be in the form of membership if you are not currently a member or know a neighbor that is not, a contribution to Farm PAC, or making contact with those elected to govern us whom are most likely two generations removed from the farm, just to name a few.
If you have any questions or would like to become more involved, please call the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau office at 530-842-2364