I am not sure the State Board Chair understands his job – or – the Role of regulators and other concerned interests.
Read the Board Chair statements and my questions to Charlie (that went unanswered – below).
As if Ag was not organized !
By the way, I have a lot respect State Board staff.
Please let Darrell Steinberg, President pro Tem of the California State Senate know what you think of Mr. Hoppin’s position and how this might effect his performance as Chair of the State Water Quality Control Board.
Darrell Steinberg, Senate President pro Tem State Capitol, Room 205 Sacramento, CA 95814
Given his position, can you expect equitable management of California’s scarce water resources? What can we expect with judicious prosecution of California Water Code, Total Maximum Daily Loads and other pollution control mechanisms (Waste Discharge Reporting and Conditional Waivers for Agriculture, Grazing, and Timber Harvest, Underground Tank management, NPDES permits, etc.. ???
Ag needs political voice
March 13, 2010 JOYCE LOBECK – SUN STAFF WRITER
The keynote speaker for the annual Southwest Ag Summit had a few words of wisdom for those attending: Regulators really don’t care what impact they have on the industry.
The regulatory community, including much of his staff, doesn’t know or understand the issues facing agriculture and “doesn’t give a rat’s …,” said Charles Hoppin, chairman of the California State Water Resources Control Board.
“They make decisions that impact people’s heritage and their ability to make a living,” he said. “I understand the need for regulation but that horrifies me.”
And that’s why it is so critical that those in the agriculture industry get involved in the political and regulatory processes and ensure that they have a voice in the decisions that impact them, he said.
“You can make a difference if you have a relationship with the politicians,” Hoppin told the some 1,000 people who attended Thursday’s summit, among them 200 high school agriculture and science students.
“It’s critical if agriculture is to survive that you stand up to the environmental community,” he warned.
It’s not that all environmentalists are bad, he said, but some in the movement envision the end of farming as it exists today.
“They have a vision of utopia. They’re well organized. It’s critical to interface with them … or you could end up with 40 acres and a mule.”
Hoppin holds the distinction of not only being the first farmer to sit on the board that oversees the industry’s lifeblood, he also is the first representative of the entire regulated community to have a voice on the board.
Hoppin said he entered the public arena as a board member of the California Rice Industry Association.
In the past, he said, the solution to getting rid of the rice straw was a “couple of matches.” There were days when the state Capitol couldn’t be seen from across the street because of the haze.
“I realized we couldn’t continue to burn. The industry went on the offense. I’m convinced the rice industry wouldn’t still exist if we hadn’t changed.”
What he realized, he said, is that the organization wasn’t dealing with politicians but developing relationships with people.
“We didn’t talk politics. We got things done.”
During his tenure with the organization, including serving as chairman,
Hoppin is credited with playing a key role in the implementation of many of the industry’s environmental stewardship efforts.
In 2005, his son was getting involved in the family farming business and Hoppin recognized the need to find something else to do.
Inspired by a statement by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that there needs to be a balance between the needs of the environment and the needs of business, Hoppin decided to seek a seat on the water board.
“Sixty percent of the state’s water goes to agriculture but no one from the industry had ever served on the board,” he said.
That he holds that position came about through a tough fight that was hard fought by environmentalists, Hoppin said. “It got into a statewide smear campaign.”
He not only got the appointment, but then was asked to chair the board.
“I think I’m able to make a difference,” he said, noting that the other board members are beginning to understand the difference between making a rule and implementing it.
“It’s a good way to close out a productive career,” he concluded.
And the son is doing fine with the farm, he acknowledged. “I’ve had to admit some crops are doing better.”
My Questions – Below
Hey Charlie ! We need to talk.
I understand you are an agriculturalist. But, there some ideas that you voiced here that need some discussion – regarding regulation – perceptions and reality.
I do not know any environmentalists that want to put agriculture out of business. We all have to eat (eating is my favorite hobby).
Agriculture has always had a strong lobby. Much stronger than the fish lobby. If the fish lobby was as strong as agriculture, any perceived threat to agriculture – would be just that perceived – and probably not as big a threat to the life style and livelihood as might be imagined.
Due to the long term effect of Ag’s historically strong lobby, Ag is not comfortable with the idea of being regulated. Who is?
Take the case of TMDLs – where in the application of the Garcia River TMDL – Ag argued in court that Congress did not intend that Ag to be included in that part of the Clean Water Act. The judge argued (and was sustained by the Appeals Court) that – Congress did intend all aspects of our culture to participate in the Clean Water Act – and if all sectors did not participate the
Clean Water Act would simply not work. With all the claims of over-regulation and how this was the end of Ag (and timber) in the Garcia, has not Ag (and timber) gotten along just fine under the auspices of the TMDL?
Take for instance, the case of the AB 2121, flow maintenance – regulatory policy. Is it not obvious that there are Ag community members that need to be somewhat brought in line to deal with effects of over-use of water on our streams? Is is not clear to you that there are a lot of Ag users taking water without permit or license – and this use of over-use – has compounded effects on, not only fish, superior water right holders and municipalities ?
Is seeking equity for all – including judicious management of scarce resources – a goal, not only for “environmentalists”, a goal for all? Should this not be a goal for you – as chair of the Water Board? Does this goal “horrify” you? If so, I would like to understand why.
My perception of what is going on here is: There are limited resources in contention (in this case water – a very important resource). There are many users clammering for this resource – including water needs for fish and aquatic life. All human life is dependent on the survival of fish and aquatic life – as well as the availability of water for Ag use, industrial use, and urban and domestic use. It is all of our job and responsibility to allocate this resource in the most efficient and reasonable way – and still maintain those beneficial uses. That means we all have to give – including Ag. With Ag using 80% of the total water pie (you say 60% – but state resource figures say 80%) – there appears some room for Ag to accommodate conservation of water – as we all should work in that direction (Santa Rosa urban use claimed 18% saving last year – but in reality it was only are net saving of about 10%).
Making these changes and adjustments will not put Ag or anybody else out of business. Promoting the idea that it will put folks out of business is unreasonable and not helpful.
It would be oh so helpful if you were a willing hand in attaining these goals – without adding to the kicking and screaming that we hear so much from Ag (and others – sometimes fixing things and making adjustments is resisted and maybe even painful).
By the way, I participated in agriculture for a good part of my life. I realize it is hard work, fraught with problems and issues, exciting and a challenge. I have been there with my 40 acres and a mule (actually rented over 1,000 acres and had a couple of tractors – and loaded all my hay by hand – to the barn and in front of the barn). I know what the work is like – and – I still work hard – but not at farming.
Alan Levine Coast Action Group