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It's best to take credit only where credit is due

The transformation of the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) has been truly been amazing.

It has evolved from an organization that has spent decades whining to California farmers and ranchers about how impossible it is for agriculture to achieve political success in Sacramento to an association that is claiming sole responsibility in what has been called the biggest victory for California agriculture in history.

The remarkable makeover all happened on a single piece of paper.

At county farm bureau meetings this spring, CFBF is distributing a membership solicitation flyer claiming full credit for the $75 million annual tax cut signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Gray Davis.

That same flyer also takes credit for “two decades” of “vigorously representing farmers” before the Public Utilities Commission and saving farmers “millions of dollars due to Farm Bureau's intervention.”

It truly is a paper transformation.

The fact is CFBF actually opposed the ag tax cut package initially. The only constructive thing Farm Bureau did during the intensive lobbying effort to get the tax cut passed was being — thankfully — conspicuous by its absence. No one wanted the organization's help because it has been such a negative influence for agriculture in the state legislature.

California's rice, citrus, cotton, ag labor, ag equipment dealers and other segments won the victory. It was not farm bureau.

CFBF did so little to win passage that when Gov. Gray Davis went to Tulare to sign the tax package, Farm Bureau was rightfully excluded from the on-stage signing ceremony.

The claim of representing farmers before the PUC and saving them $124 million annually is an even greater misrepresentation. It has been the Agricultural Energy Consumers Association that has championed agriculture's cause before the PUC and effected changes to benefit farmers.

AECA was formed in 1991 because it had become apparent to San Joaquin Valley producers that agriculture had been significantly underrepresented in the state legislature and the PUC.

AECA was created partly because CFBF was not doing its job of representing farmers to the PUC.

Farm bureau is distributing its misleading flyer at county meetings to solicit members. It should stick to offering insurance and pickup truck discount to entice membership.

However, if its insurance programs and pickup truck discounts are as valid as their political claims, I would check for disappearing ink on the policy and make sure there is a steering wheel in the discounted pickup.

There is more hot air on that flyer than Joan Rivers at the Oscars and about as much resemblance to the truth as the way she looks now compared to before her facelifts.

Facelifts and jowl tucks often result in what has been called the “lizard look.” The reconstruction of CFBF is definitely chameleon.

To claim sole credit for the ag tax cut and ag energy savings is an insult to hundreds who actually did the work.

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