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I am proud to have devoted almost 30 years of effort and energy as an advocate for land stewardship at the local, county and state levels as an affiliate and board member of the Napa County Farm Bureau.

But ironically, the organization recently endorsed my opponent Supervisor Diane Dillon for re-election.

The people who lead the Farm Bureau, a group that included me until I became a candidate for supervisor, are good people who care about the land. Unfortunately, some of them have placed a higher priority on the profits generated from over-planting rural areas with vineyards and building winery event centers.

This misguided priority has caused the Farm Bureau, and others, to pick candidates based on their position on Measure C. It's divided otherwise lifelong friends and it's too bad.

Some farmers like me believe Measure C is wise because it protects our hillsides and watersheds from corporate over-development of vineyards, and thereby protects Napa County’s major source of both drinking and irrigation water.

The simple truth is that vineyards (wonderful crops and vital to my own way of life) as water- and habitat-preserving crops are inferior to the natural hillside ecosystems that already exist.

Others argue that property owners won’t be able to make decisions about their own land.

What Measure C will do is ensure that property owners who wish to ignore their responsibility to protect our collective water supply will not be able to replace deep-rooted, complex and vital networks of trees (including oaks) with acres of shallow-rooted vineyards that would further deplete our aquifers.

Measure C is a proactive way to protect our natural resources from the irreversible harm being proposed by corporate winery developers. By preserving our hillsides and watersheds, we protect our water, air, wildlife, and the quality of life for everyone who lives in Napa County.

And it will preserve economic opportunity for smart, local agriculturists who farm sustainably and don’t need to rely on winery centers for event-generated dollars.

Concerned citizens put Measure C on the ballot in the first place because Supervisor Dillon has remained undecided or silent on too many of the projects that threaten Napa County’s limited resources.

She remains "neutral" on Measure C today. But in the minds of a few at the Farm Bureau, apparently a calculated neutrality based on the paranoia of unintended consequences is preferable to a realistic and reasoned position that Measure C will be a net benefit for farmers.

At least voters have clear distinctions they can evaluate before they cast their ballots.

Lucio “Cio” Perez

St. Helena

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