Industry members still have time to voice concerns about Ag Order 4.0 before the comment period ends. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board will continue accepting feedback until Saturday, June 20. Industry members are being encouraged to share how they will be impacted by the proposed draft order.
“We’re looking for comment letters from the boots-on-the-ground so to speak; the farmers, the farm operators, and the landowners who will see what those impacts are going to be to their particular farming operation or their land,” said Norm Groot, Executive Director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau. “At this point, it’s a little late to mail a letter so we suggest everything be submitted electronically.”
The order is aimed at addressing water quality issues in the region through limiting fertilizer applications and establishing riparian setback areas around waterways. Groot explained that the significant cost of collecting data, monitoring, and reporting the necessary information will be compounded by the expense growers will face in substantially curbing their farming activities. “My position at this point is that they’re focusing on the wrong end of the equation and really need to look at how we can invest those dollars more usefully,” Groot noted.
The prescribed limits on fertilizer use and the implementation of riparian buffer areas will have a sizable impact on the ability of producers to effectively farm their land. While the Agricultural Order for Discharges to Irrigated Lands 4.0, simply known as Ag Order 4.0, only affects eight counties on the Central Coast, there is concern that the order could prove to be precedent-setting.
“That’s my fear, is that this is going to become more of a blueprint for a lot of other areas in the state because of the way that the Central Coast has in the past developed these programs and then other regions within the state have to follow up and make sure that they’re becoming more congruent with what’s going on here,” Groot explained. “That certainly is not what we want to inflict on all the other regions of California.”
Growers can email their comments to the AgNOI@waterboards.ca.gov with “Comments of Draft Ag Order 4.0” in the subject line of the e-mail. MCFB also suggests addressing comments to the attention of Matthew T. Keeling, Executive Officer.
Listen to the interview below.