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Column: Valley ag air pollution control law full-blown travesty

Several thousand California central valley farmers recently had the opportunity to waste hundreds of hours listening to how their state government has not only made them the whipping boy for valley air pollution but is charging from $120 to $550 apiece for the privilege.

The useless meetings were called to help farmers fill out more needless paperwork. This time the paperwork was basically to validate what they are already doing. This quest to load the San Joaquin Valley’s air problems on the backs of farmers is now a full-fledged travesty.

Agriculture lobbyist say they did the best they could to make the new ag air pollution control law as palatable as possible for farmers. These information meetings were billed as a proactive approach to a law that was shoved down agriculture’s throat by a small town Kern County, Calif., politician who has proven he will climb over anyone he can to reach higher office.

The literature, designed to explain to farmers how they can comply with the new law and the 17 meetings held in the valley to help growers comply with the new air quality regulation, were a joke. Only no one is laughing.

Every producer who farms more than 100 acres must develop Conservation Management Plans (CMPs) for crops they grow. CMPs are basically a list of practices California farmers have been doing for years to reduce dust; watering or oiling unpaved roads and equipment yards; cover crops in orchards and vineyards; reducing chemical applications through integrated pest management; reducing tillage passes, and the dumbest mandatory regulation of them all, speed reduction on unpaved road. If farmers and workers drove any slower on field and farm roads they’d be standing still. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows nothing will incite the anger of a farmer than someone stirring up dust driving fast alongside a field.

Now that agriculture is going through this charade, it’s time to get serious about the source of pollutants that have given the valley the dubious distinction as being the dirtiest air in the nation.

First, let’s put San Francisco, San Jose and the rest of the Bay Area on barges and move a big source of valley air pollution 100 miles out to sea so the dirty air from the Bay would not drift into the valley.

Let’s get a law passed that would require every passenger vehicle in cities of more than 50,000 people that travels more than 150 miles per week and gets less than 21 miles per gallon be assessed an additional DMV fee of $500.

For every truck not registered in a valley county that travels valley roads with less than a 50 percent load be assessed $500 at weight stations.

Let’s put hour meters on lawn mowers, and any mower used more than 10 hours per week be assessed $100 annually.

Everyone says it is too late to do anything about the farm air quality law. Farmers are stuck with it. It’s time everyone else gets stuck with a bunch of stupid air pollution laws and regulations.

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