California farmers oppose Prop 23

Posted on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 by Renata Brillinger

As the California statewide election nears, CalCAN is working directly with our farmer network to oppose Proposition 23. This ballot measure — funded almost entirely by Texas oil companies — would derail California’s climate change and clean energy policies and slow the growth of our burgeoning green tech economy.

Many farmers understand what’s at stake.

We’ve been repeatedly inspired by the number of growers, from Ventura to Napa, who have taken time out from the fall harvest season to voice opinions in local newspapers. One recent example is Jon-Mark Chappellet, owner and manager of Chappellet Vineyard, who  wrote an  opinion article in the Napa Valley Register.  He wrote: “California leads the world in many ways. Our agricultural economy is productive and diverse, we have made big gains in the quality of our air and water, and we are at the forefront of the clean energy industry. We should be using this leadership and innovation to keep moving forward and to help with our economic recovery. Proposition 23 takes us backward because it would derail California’s landmark clean air and energy policies and slow the growth of the clean energy economy.”

We anticipate many more public statements from growers who recognize the crucial link between farming, a green economy, and climate change.

Unless the worst impacts of climate change are avoided, farms and ranches will be increasingly susceptible to the effects of climate change.

The evidence is so strong, it led U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to state in the LA Times: “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen. We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.”

In the face of these challenges, farmers need to become even more resilient. California’s landmark 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. CalCAN is at the table advocating for AB 32 to provide California’s farmers and ranchers real incentives and resources to adopt more climate-friendly agricultural practices such as improved on-farm water and energy efficiency systems, carbon capture in the soil, and renewable energy generation.

Prop 23 would essentially halt all of this progress. It would block AB 32 implementation until California’s unemployment drops to 5.5 percent for one consecutive year – a goal unlikely to be reached for years. The initiative has received 98 percent of its funding from oil companies and 87 percent from out-of-state entities. In fact, by blocking investment and policies that promote cleaner air and water, Prop 23 would actually kill huge numbers of current and future jobs in our state, and directly threaten the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. It’s a point not lost on Jim Churchill and Lisa Brenneis, citrus growers in Ojai, who aptly wrote in a recent editorial submission:

“As farmers, we are a significant part of the new green economy, and we need the clean energy incentives that Prop. 23 would destroy. Vote No on Prop 23.”

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