As a journalist, the favorite part of my job (I prefer to call it my passion) is interviewing growers about their farming operations for feature stories. Producers are fascinating, intriguing folks and it’s always a mental rush to find out what makes them ‘tick’ and successful.
There are always a myriad of questions and answers, including obvious discussions on yield, pest and disease issues, and the like. Yet my favorite question focuses on what makes their operation successful. Common answers include technology yet can be as simple as treating every farm employee as family every day whether they are a blood relative or not.
One of the last questions asked focuses on the No. 1 challenge facing their operation. In recent years, the top answer by far has been government regulations and the impact on their operation’s bottom line.
Most growers, and most citizens as well, tend to agree that government regulations are needed to protect us from hazards. Yet more and more growers believe additional regulations are not only ludicrous but are strangling their operations.
California raisin grower Mitch Sangha shared his frustration with regulations in a recent Farm Press article (http://www.westernfarmpress.com/grapes/low-prices-regulations-threaten-raisin-grower-s-survival) and wasn’t shy about his strong opposition to the state’s minimum wage hike to $15 per hour and the new overtime law limiting farm employees to 40 hours of work per week.
When it’s time to harvest grapes for raisins, Sangha shared, it takes more work over a short period of time to harvest the crop and maintain raisin quality. While he has farmed in California his entire life and loves living there, moving his farm to another state and growing other crops is an idea under consideration.
President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on reducing government regulations for Americans, including taking some of the regulatory bite out of the federal Environmental Protection Act. As a result, growers are cheering his campaign promise to deliver more logical regulations to help them remain in business.
Keep in mind that while regulatory control at the federal level could decrease overtime, there’s no assurance that local, regional, or state regulations would follow the same path.
All growers want is more common sense by their government and creating a more pro-business attitude to keep them financially solvent with fewer regulatory-caused headaches.