Agriculture is vital

MARIE WALDRON

This week at the San Diego County Farm Bureau’s annual installation/awards celebration in Fallbrook, I was proud to recognize Gary Crouch with an Assembly Resolution honoring him as “Farmer of the Year”.  As the owner of Mountain Meadow Mushrooms, Gary has been active in the Farm Bureau for decades and was one of the first to use the San Diego Grown 365 logo to promote local buying on his packaging.

Farming is vital to our state and local economies.  California has long been the nation’s leading agricultural state, and locally grown crops including avocados, citrus, strawberries, olives, grapes and cut flowers have put San Diego in the top tier of agricultural counties nationwide, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that we have more small farms than any other county.

Despite drought and unreliable water stability, rising water costs, constant market fluctuations and competition from foreign sources, agriculture continues to thrive in our region. However, state government doesn’t help through added regulations and anti-business policies.

In his recent budget proposal, Governor Brown called for a shift in funding for Career Technical Education (CTE), which stifles the flexibility of school boards to support various programs, including Future Farmers of America (FFA).  Eliminating or underfunding these leadership programs in a state where agriculture plays such a vital role would be shortsighted and counterproductive.

I have joined over 50 Assembly colleagues in standing up for CTE and FFA, asking that these cuts be rescinded.  I have also authored AB 316, which increases CTE funding and breaks barriers to bread-winner jobs.

California agriculture helps feed the world. State government should do all it can to encourage, and not hinder, California’s farmers.

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Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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