North State food growers appeal to AgVision for relief

Over-regulation is what really chaps California's food producers, a variety of North State growers told the California Department of Food and Agriculture today in Redding.

Seventeen farmers, ranchers and others addressed AgVision, a group of Food and Ag officials traveling the state on a “listening tour” for public input on the future of the business and its challenges and needs.

Most of today's speakers stressed the need for reducing the crippling regulatory burden in California -- “the most regulated state in the nation,” said Tehama County Agricultural Commissioner Rick Gurrola.

Several others emphasized a need for flexibility in the rules and regs smaller farmers, especially, must follow

Younger speakers drew particular attention. Three FFA girls from West Valley High School -- looking like a million bucks in their blue-and-gold FFA jackets -- eloquently spoke together about the need for such programs in schools, not just to support students in the field ut also to educate others.

“One 4.0 classmate of mine thought cheese comes from a section of the cow,” one said. “They didn't know it was a product of milk.”

Panel member Craig McNamara praised the students for their interest and encouraged them to educate their classmates about the satisfaction, opportunities and jobs available in food production.

“We're aging out,” he said. “You're desperately needed in the world of agriculture.”

And a sparkling vision of an agricultural paradise came from Wolfgang Rougle, the under-30 owner of Twining Tree Farm in Cottonwood.

She enthusiastically described a future in which sustainable farms on small and large scales employed local people at a fair and livable wage producing healthy, nutritious food sufficient to feed everyone in their regions.

She also emphasized the need for regulatory relief, including allowing the sale of farm products at the farm gate, such as her salsa or fried chicken made in her kitchen, or produce she grows on her farm. She appealed for fairness across the board, regardless of the size of the operation.

Asked by a panel member for her definition of “sustainable,” Rougle said she'd rely on the conservative definition of “whatever allows us to meet our needs without compromising the ability of the future to meet its needs.”

Rougle has written a book called “Sacramento Valley Feast,” a wild food field guide and cookbook.She also writes for EdibleShasta magazine.

Other speakers talked about the large amounts of litter, solid waste and illegal dumping in the area: food safety and national security in terms of the growing number of large-container shipping from other countries, especially China; inadequate funding for ag classes and programs such as FFA in public schools; and the importance of fairs to agriculture.

One panelist wondered why he wasn't hearing the words “global warming” or “climate change” today, as he does in Southern California, where he's from. Boy, is he in the wrong county.

About 50 people attended the three-hour event held in the Shasta County Board of Supervisors chambers.

Five more listening sessions are planned.


  1. Brewer was in the building. Sorry I didn't get a chance to say howdy.

  2. Howdy, Bruce. Always a pleasure, no matter the venue.