Good farmers are stewards of the land, and Napa County is full of them. They conserve resources, and manage soil health and water quality. And they take the long view.
Measure C purports to know better, and to act in the best interest of the public. Unfortunately it is fundamentally flawed.
How did we get here? There clearly exists a major gap in the public's understanding of how farming and the establishment of vineyards in Napa County's Ag Watershed works. A flippant “more regulation is always better” attitude is only possible without understanding current conservation regulations on the books.
There is a noticeable undercurrent of distrust and angst amongst our county's citizenry at large, Napa's non-farming public. That latent frustration comes from a variety of valid sources, and some of the biggest are probably the classic stress-inducing duo of too much traffic and not enough affordable housing.
And for those who aren't connected economically to Napa County's “highest and best use of the land,” aka farming, it is easier to be skeptical of the entirety of the agricultural system.
But the proposed solution in Measure C that would allow for the continued establishment of hard-scape construction (wineries, homes) in the hillsides, while disallowing vineyards after the oak removal limit was reached, is the wrong solution to that dissatisfaction. Measure C seems to stem from a wholesale distrust of the system, but is specifically designed to prohibit farming in farming-designated areas.
And how, once-passed, might Measure C ever be amended or repealed? Through no other process than mounting another lengthy, drawn out initiative campaign. Not good.
Mark your calendars - not just for Election Day of Tuesday, June 5, but for the morning afterward. On Wednesday, June 6, we hope to wake up to the news that the initiative has been defeated, and to move forward with the collaborative work of what would have been a more productive process all along: convening a responsible discussion among all stakeholders about how our current regulatory system works and how it might be improved.
If you are one of the 99 percent of Americans who don't farm for a living, don't fear farmers, get to know them – in Napa County they are probably your neighbors. And if your livelihood depends on agriculture, talk to your non-farming friends about your stewardship practices.
Vote No on Measure C.
Jesse Ramer, Executive Director
Napa County Farm Bureau