East of the Altamont
There really is a land east of the Altamont. I am getting a few jibes from the Philly bleachers so I guess I have to write up an lesson plan so that those from west of the Altamont can get to know what makes a difference down on the farm.
For instance, let's start with the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau. They have a very informative web site where you can learn a lot. This month, they tell you all about how "Low prices, high costs impact dairy industry:"
Milk remained San Joaquin County’s most valuable agricultural commodity with a 2005 value of more than $314.5 million, down from 2004’s $324 million, according to the 2005 Agricultural Report.Now, McCloskey said that he did not make a dent in the farm vote because the farmers were convinced that Pombo was working for them. Now, I have to ask you to name just one thing that he has done to help with any of those problems.
“Even though milk production increased, lower prices caused a net decrease in value of 3 percent,” explained Agricultural Commissioner Scott Hudson.
Despite facing the usual issues — air, water, pesticide, labor — San Joaquin County’s dairy industry is enduring low milk prices and rapidly rising costs, all of which does not sit well with Manteca dairyman and San Joaquin Farm Bureau board member Ray Quaresma.
Air: San Joaquin Valley has some of the worst air in the country. The June 16th Frenso Bee calls the shots right on this one.
The San Joaquin Valley's air district Thursday passed the most sweeping dairy air pollution rule in the country to clean up smog-making gas from 2.6 million cows.What has Pombo done? Nothing.
Environmentalists say the rule relies on business practices that dairies already commonly use. Thus, it won't cut smog, they said, hinting that a lawsuit might follow.
"This is an empty gesture in dealing with the largest source" of one smog-making gas in the Valley, said lawyer Paul Cort of Earthjustice Legal Defense in San Francisco.
But the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said the rule would eliminate 21 tons of volatile organic compounds daily, which amounts to a quarter of the smog-making gases coming from dairies.
The latest estimates place Valley cows ahead of cars in producing this kind of gas, which is a key building block of corrosive ozone or smog. The Valley is the nation's top-producing dairy region.
What does this cost the San Joaquin Valley? According to a study conducted by Cal. State University - Fullerton, $3 Billion per year in medical costs from air pollution.
What should be done? Well, Green Party Assembly (34th AD) Canididate David M. Silva (Tulare) has an idea. Government should provide incentives to reduce dairy pollution by the implementation of methane digesters to capture the gasses produce and to use the heat from burning the methane to drive electricity co-generation installations. A similar project with Strauss Farms in Marin County had a payback within three years.
In combatting air pollution, Silva is providing more leadership than Pombo. There are solutions. It is time for legislators like Pombo to stop chewing their cud and get to work. If you want to make a dent in Pombo's base, you have to start showing his base that he has forgotten all about them. This is just one example.
(First in a series...Kind of like Kevin's except I only have four: air, water, pesticide, labor)