Does Salud Carbajal support farmers, the economy?

November 10, 2015

Supervisor Peter Adam

Opinion by Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam

Agriculture in Northern Santa Barbara County, or the Colonies as I refer to us, had a bad day at the Oct. 13 Board of Supervisors meeting. Along the usual 3-2 lines, I lost my bid to legalize 4,500 acres of existing berry hoops and to preserve the ability of farmers to innovate and evolve to stay economically viable.

Berry hoops covered with a plastic membrane are tools that have been developed to enable the production of high-value crops such as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Hoops protect the fragile flowers from being lost to rain or wind. No hoops means no berries, plain and simple.

Other benefits include saving water, using less pesticides and fertilizer, and creating a better working environment for workers. Hoops represent an investment of around $15,000 per acre, and they generate unsecured property tax for the county which could be spent on such things as road maintenance or mental health.

These essential production tools have evolved without any complaints from the public whatsoever. Ridiculously, because they are over 12 feet tall and stay in the field for more than six months, they are treated as “permanent buildings” instead of the temporary crop protection tools that they are.

Rather than simply hoping that nobody would notice that 4,500 existing acres of this tool require permits and are essentially illegal, I tried to fix the problem. My fix did not pass. The problem is not the current hoops. The problem is that agriculture evolves.

Farmers work their whole lives to improve the processes, yields, and quality. Most businesses can simply change what they do to increase efficiency. But for agriculture, my colleagues want to force people to ask permission to make these changes—permission that is infamously expensive, time consuming, and uncertain.

Supervisor Salud Carbajal

Supervisor Salud Carbajal

My South Coast colleagues (including Salud Carbajal who is running to represent the Colonies in the U.S. Congress) fail to understand, or do not care, that practices used in crop production are developed slowly and with great expense. My colleagues think that the growers build the “buildings” and then plant crops under them, but the reverse is true. The crops are planted, and only then are the hoops installed.

Berry hoops do not have foundations or footings. They have none of the hallmarks of permanent structures. Berry crops should be exempt. In fact, an exemption does exist for the exact same technique if it were covered in shade cloth. This exemption is most often used in the First District, in the Carpinteria area that Salud Carbajal represents.

A critical component of the discussion was the current 12 foot height limit. I argued that we should not limit the creativity and innovation that are required to keep local agriculture on the cutting edge of industry evolution. We should give them the flexibility to experiment and not have to ask for permission before trying a new technique. Growers should not have to choose between running afoul of our antiquated county code and developing new technologies that produce more with less.

The best way to keep agriculture viable is to keep it profitable. For all of the lip service our South Coast colleagues give “protecting agricultural viability,” the only thing I can see (as a farmer who grows over 4,000 acres of open field vegetables, and has no hoops or berries) is that they want to “preserve” us as a diorama, a kind of agricultural snow-globe that they can look at when they drive by.

They do not want to see the crops change. They want the same view shed preserved, as in formaldehyde, unchanging and available to them whenever they wish.

Well folks, that isn’t how it works. If agriculture isn’t allowed the freedom to evolve, it will perish. None of the crops that are the staples today in the Santa Maria Valley, and in fact in the county, were much thought of 75 years ago. My grandfather used half of the ranch for feed for the horses, which was the diesel of its day.

I can’t imagine having to convince my colleagues to let me use a tractor so we could grow food on the other half of the ranch.

During our lunch break, Mr. Carbajal told me I need to learn to “take half a loaf.” He meant that I should have suggested a height limit that would cover existing “structures” only. Instead, I suggested a height limit that would allow agriculture to evolve.

What Mr. Carbajal didn’t understand was that this was a test. Would he genuinely support agriculture? Would he give the North County an analogous exemption to that available to his constituents on the South Coast? As our Congressman, would he protect true agricultural viability or would he simply support “snow-globe” farms so he and his South Coast elite friends can drive by and enjoy the view? I think he showed us where he stands.

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Miguelito

What he did not say was that he requested a 36′ ceiling height on future hoop structures. How would you like that in your front yard?


analyticone

You don’t generally find berry fields in your front yard.


Red Cabbage

Stopped reading after “Opinion by Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam”


racket

… and this is a source of pride for you because …


Slowerfaster

Really …is this an important issue ?


About as important that Adams looks like he’s munching on a feral gopher.


Silly season for Republicans is ALL THE TIME !


analyticone

Do you really need to ask that? Ag is the number one economic engine in our county; in all of California.


hijinks

Have to love the part “No hoops means no berries, plain and simple.” Not so fast, sir. I grow blueberries without hoops. Lots of berries.


This is just a R hit piece against the leading D in the congressional race. Pretty silly overall. But I guess its the season.


racket

Do you grow berries on a commercial scale?


R.Hodin

So, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Peter Adam crafted a “gotcha” general plan amendment proposal crafted solely to trip up Congressional candidate Carbajal.


Gee, how surprising—playing politics on the taxpayer’s dime. Walks like a tea-particle, quacks like a tea-particle, …


Kaiser Bill

This is addresses a specific issue and speaks to Carbajal’s political biases. The article is well reasoned and grounded in facts. As opposed to the vituperative invective slamming Katcho that Tom Fulks penned for the Tribune the other day.


kettle

So when a slanderous facebook post about this website or someone who writes here is taken down, you join the crowd whining “it’s censorship” in support of said idiot, who is your buddy.


But then you show up here to play politics Gee, how surprising……


Don’t get me wrong I vote to the left, but you continue to lose credibility as you help further the schism that lies within the Slo county democrats.


R.Hodin

Well, that certainly is a rambling comment without a shred of either reality or logic to stand on. Sorry you were having such a hard night at the computer.


kettle

Lol get this Little aaron is claiming that I am really Josh Friedman, blogger boy you are 100 % wrong.


We met once, and I don’t work here, but you can pretend if that’s what you are into.


Orwell2015

Interesting its a “gotcha” when democrats are held to account for their records. To expose Carbajal for what he is (a democrat socialist) is warranted if we desire an educated voter to make educated voting decisions. But therein lies the problem doesn’t it — you really don’t want an educated voter do you. You want unknowing lap dogs who simply vote for someone because they have a “D” beside their name.


AmericaBeautiful

Socialists love bigger and more powerful government, which means bigger taxes, and no voice in what goes on. Carbal The Socialist should be put down at every opportunity.


Slowerfaster

Socialists want government that works for everyone, and true democracy.


Republicans, plutocrats, extractionists, and warmongers want a government that only works for, and answers to, them.


Kaiser Bill

Peter Adam’s moustache is almost as good as mine.


To answer the question, Katcho for Congress. He will get things done. Carbajal is another party hack like Lois Capps.


SloTownMan

IS a vote for Katcho the same as Lois Capps (Democrap)?


Kaiser Bill

No.


Seeing as how Katcho has a long record of public service and didn’t get elected because he was a widower.


SLOBIRD

I will have to hold my nose and vote for Katcho because of the Paso water issue. Anyone who sides with Ant Hill and Gibson need not apply for my vote! But then, I guess there can be someone worst every once in awhile. We will see!


hijinks

What does the Paso water issue have to do with Congress? Wrong jurisdiction by several levels.


Jorge Estrada

Supervisor Adams and mustache is a friend to agriculture and landowners in general. Yes it is very unfortunate that temporary whoops are considered taxable structures. They are closer to a tent than anything else which is not a taxable structure. Carbajal should be just running and not for Congress.


AmericaBeautiful

Running AWAY from California.

Hey, Mexico’s cheap. Go there and add to the destruction of their country, not ours, Mr. Socialist Carbajal.


womanwhohasbeenthere

These rules are the very things that are destroying innovation and in this case, agriculture. For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would vote against this.


If this is indicative of the thinking of Salud Carbajal, I definitely do not want him or anyone of his mind set representing me in Congress!


SanSimeonSam

Call me petty and shallow but that is the butt-ugliest moustache i have ever seen. The guy looks like the south end of a north bound goat.


racket

YosemiteSam had a similar one — is he a relation of yours?


To the point: This editorial reads like a “hit piece,” which may be deserved is Carbajal is really as anti-ag and air-conditioned as it appears.


AmericaBeautiful

You care more about the man’s looks than this issue??

No more destructive Socialists anywhere in any gubmint job in California.