Skip to comments.Collective Farming In the California Delta--How to Become A Communist Without Even Trying!
Posted on 07/16/2003 1:11:42 PM PDT by countrydummy
Sharon Votaw April 21, 2003
My husband and I bought some farmland in the California Delta over 30 years ago. This is prime agricultural land with deep, rich soils, ample water and a long growing season. In the beginning we would plant a crop; either beans or tomatoes or alfalfa, hay, wheat, corn, oats or barley. Then we hoped for favorable weather and a strong market. Farming has always been gamblers choice. Some years were good and some years were lean, but we paid our bills and enjoyed life.
Unbeknownst to us, in the early 1990s the government again became concerned over farmers and farmland and how farmers worked their land. Now, this was very thoughtful of them.
We thought we owned our land but; as everyone realizes, we do not. Since the last time the government was concerned over our safety and welfare--the early 1900s--we have had to pay rent in the form of a property tax for services we receive from the county, city and state. These services are for roads, police and fire protection, courts, schools, myriads of state and Federal laws including all of the conflicting and redundant bureaucracy governing our use of our own property.
The farm oversight agencies are Fish and Game, Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers, Endangered Species Act, Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, CalFed, Delta Protection Commission, Resource Conservation and Development Agency, OSHA, FDA, Farm and Agriculture Department, Department of Water Resources to name only a few! Many government agencies are found on the Federal level and the state level. Now add all of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs fueled by billions in tax dollars) like The Nature Conservancy, Earth First!, the Sierra Club and foundations like the Packards and land trusts like American Farmland Trust all forcing property sales and creating willing sellers through intimidation and litigation and regulation and restrictions into the mix and you garner unfathomable oppression. If you do not pay rent for these services the governing body will take your land from you and rent, oops, sell it in a tax auction to a more responsible person.
Recently we read in the paper that our county proudly proclaims that we were now part of the biggest MultiSpecies Habitat Conservation Program (MSHCP) in the nation. Yep, every inch not inside a city limit is in a MSHCP! No one ever asked the property owners. They worked hard for seven years to accomplish this level of protection. This plan takes away private property ownership because the owner is no longer able to use it in a responsible way to benefit himself and others.
Part of this plan calls for us to farm wildlife-friendly crops requiring little water like oats, barley, wheat and corn (water guzzling CORN?--gosh, what do we know?). Part of the MSHCP requires that we leave 5% to 10% of the crop unharvested for wildlife. This might be our profit margin but we do not need to worry. The government feels our pain and is working hard for a solution. Their solution is to fund more agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations and environmental oversight groups to help us better understand our environment.
Now we have the Endangered Species Act to protect Riparian Rabbits, flies, roaches, rats, snakes, frogs, et al. The Riparian Rabbit is a subspecies of a cottontail--this one chooses to live next to a river. CalFed, another agency to help and serve us, used tax money to buy 400 acres for the rabbit, paid biologists to breed seven rabbits and turned them out on the 400 acres to see if they would breed (teeny collars allowed biologists to keep track of them). The biologists thought they had reproduced but the rabbits are very shy so the biologists were not sure.
The park hosted, I kid you not, a First Annual Love Fest For the Riparian Rabbit. Everyone was invited to visit the bunnys new home. Children were given pink bunny ears to wear and had whiskers drawn on their faces. They were taught how to find the collared bunnies and to play a game called pin the tail on the bunny. This was smugly reported in the Stockton Record!
The Endangered Species Act protects all sorts of snakes, snails and bugs, fish and native plants on our farms. Domestic animals are not protected. Domestic animals are considered unsustainable. The red-legged frog of Calaveras Jumping Frog fame has over 4 million protected acres, but NONE of them is in Calaveras County because the frog is a big source of income there. Instead, this frog halts development over a huge part of the rest of the state. We cannot disturb the little phibian with any farming practice and we have to leave him little ponds all over our property even if he is not present. I wont even go into vernal pools that have halted a college, or numerous wetlands which breed mosquitoes, supply habitat for vermin, and which have stopped housing projects and hospitals.
CalFed is a consortium of 26 Federal and State Agencies. Ever try to work with just one agency helping you? HUMPH! Try 26 of the contradictory, power-driven bureaucracies! They have even had their Federal funding cut off because they could not tell where the money went, who got it, why they got it, where it went after the agency got it, or produce an itemized budget for the next year. You may remember that the liberal California voters voted to fund them almost a billion dollars under a bill titled the Clean Water Act which was drafted in southern California by developers who wrote into the bill the generous purchase of their own property. Within a week of the bills passage, Cargill--one of the funding developers--reaped millions of taxpayer dollars for the sale of unwanted salt flats near San Francisco. Senator Feinstein was so proud of her acquisition! Remember that the goal of CalFed is to fairly disburse water throughout our dry state. You dont suppose the developers drafting this funding source in southern California will garner any special consideration do you?
Now we still are not protected enough. Senator Johnson (D-CA) conceived the idea of a Delta Protection Commission, something rather similar to the California Coastal Commission. Its mandate was to protect the Delta with the help of CalFed. I couldnt help noticing that the good senator did not own any protected property. Now that we are blessed with this Delta Protection Commission (DPC), no one can do anything, as simple as changing a drainage ditch, to their property without going through several agencies for approval. One of our parcels requires an additional $1600 fee for the county to decide if we can do what we used to be able to do, plus the permit fee.
Now the Delta Protection Commission is asking for another Federal agency, the Resource Conservation & Development Agency (RC&D), to come on board over strong objections from our farmers. But the DPC covers 5 counties; and has mostly its own agencies, CalFed, and recreation interests, and local politicians on its board, property owners are virtually invisible among the other vested interests. The RC&D tells us it will help us get grant money from the Federal Government to help us decide how we can best adapt to our no market after NAFTA and GATT helped us compete with other nations lacking workmens compensation, Social Security, minimum wages, environmental restrictions, etc. RC&D is pushing for tourism and wineries (forget that last year winegrowers couldnt sell their product--get a grant and make wine from the grapes you cannot sell!). They suggest hunting on your property; just dont shoot the endangered critters.
DPC is promoting conservation easements with American Farmland Trust (AFT). The conservation easement is where you deed part of your property to a Trust and they become your partners forever. They determine if you can add or remove a fence or a building, whatever. They play a great big game of Mother May I with you. This impairs your ability to use or sell your property--it is a permanent partnership for you and your heirs with the Trust calling the shots. You cannot borrow full value on your property either. You no longer own it, and banks do not like to loan or finance sales on deals like this.
So now we own property which we rent in property taxes. We cannot make any changes to the property without going through several government agencies for permission. We cannot use portions of our property deemed habitat. We are encouraged to raise only certain crops. Though our property has water rights, a consortium of agencies controls our water use. Our market has been destroyed by NAFTA, and we are told we need more government in the form of help to redirect our farming towards tourism and recreation.
Over 100,000 acres, 5 counties and hundreds of owners are involved. I believe this constitutes the definition of a collective farm as I learned it in school. Im part of that collective farm through no effort of my own. I never wanted to be a communist; I had always felt sorry for them. Now, as a member of a collective farm, Ive become one, and without even trying.
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It is in the breaking news sidebar!
Nothing. Because it's being done piecemeal -- one person, one target at a time. While everyone else thinks himself safe (if he even thinks about it).
And how much for private business.
Don't get me wrong... I believe you. But frankly I don't think anything at all is going to happen until a whole lot more people recognize what's going on, many more than seem to be aware now. The problem is that it can (and has) come too late. Check the link. where one man relates how the boiled frog scenario occurred, with devastating results, not so very long ago.
And as the speaker reflected then, I reflect now: "The world you live in---your nation, your people--- is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.
I am not optimistic.
Far beyond my FR postings and FR profile: numerous letters to the editor (~90% publication rate), much time lobbying the state legislature (somewhat less my congresswoman, though she knows me and my family), and lots of *time* and *effort* and money spent directly on political campaigns (I give little to do-little political parties, but much directly to vetted candidates)... no, I'm not giving up.
If for nothing else, I am not giving up because of my children. I cannot give them the free country I encountered when I came of age, but I'll be damned if I will allow them to be subjected to the kind of totalitarian state the Left is pressing for.
I think you are generally correct. I don't perceive that people are so fearful they're glad it's someone else under the gun (as if the "gun" were inevitable), but I don't think the public in general sees the extent of the change that's occurred already. That's the problem with slow accomodation.
“WE NEED to wake up and stop it now”
We are doomed to recede into oblivion.
The real question:
I really would like to know how much all of the environmental programs have cost the
government taxpayers in total up until now.
Government programs don't ever cost the government anything; that's what taxes are for.
In WA State, they are going after the small farmers, what they call hobby farms. They are forcing them to sign farm plans which once completed and changes are made, subjects the farmer to periodic inspections, which the farmer must pay for. They require all animals to be fenced away from drainage ditches, a distance of between 50-100 feet (we haven’t figured out how the distance is determined), all kinds of rules about the manure piles and redistributing. In some counties they make the farmers map the cow pies, in others, they want the manure piles picked up and composted. They have no proof that any of the farm run off is actually reaching any stream, river or bay. They just make these requirements and also make the farmers pay for the privilege of being regulated. Farm plans can cost as much as $15,000, not including any of the work required.
Oh, and the county monitors the land use by helicopter and aerial photography.
I don’t think everyone is asleep, and I figure a few of them have deduced the logical outcome of this and its solution. That is why gun sales are so high. This will lead to war when there are more eaters than producers and I figure we are about there right now. There is a whole lot of people voting with their wallets in gun stores. It is a silent vote that speaks very loud.