Presidential Race and California Agriculture

california agriculture

by Christine Rudolph, CGO contributor, Twitter, Facebook,

California Agriculture Plays a part in Presidential Race

The California agriculture industry knows that a lot rides on them in this year’s presidential election. California is the nation’s top state in agriculture production and normally this far in an election year, groups that include California Fresh Fruit Association would be putting their support behind a particular presidential candidate believed to best represent the interests of farmers.

California’s Primary election is less than two weeks away but they have yet to choose a presidential candidate to support. The leaders of the local farmer’s association say that this election the headway made up till now is very frustrating; there is no candidate that is a clear cut choice for the farming industry. Barry Bedwell, the president of Central Valley-based association that represents growers of 13 fresh fruit commodities, including table grapes, peaches, cherries and apricots says that there are issues and challenges with each of the candidates from the perspective of the California agriculture industry.

Let us start from Donald Trump, possibly the most controversial candidate in recent American history. Manuel Cunha, Jr., president of the Nisei Farmers League favors Trump because Trump has promised to reduce regulations on businesses and most in the farming industry insist that the farming industry is over regulated. Cunha believes that the Democrats will add to the regulation. However Trump’s views on immigration are a cause for concern for the farmers. Farming equipment has advanced to new heights enabling budgeted farming machines to undertake a variety of tasks. Farming machines really has reduced the demand for manual labor but it is no secret that still many small farmers and ranchers depend on cheap labor from Mexico and are in favor on immigration reforms that will make it easier for workers to come legally across the border to work and then go back home. Cunha says that fear of getting caught in immigration raids has dissuaded many workers from crossing the border thus creating a farm laborer shortage in California. Also Trump has been very vocal of imposing penalties on the hiring of undocumented workers. Farmers do not welcome penalties even if they do support Trump’s imitative of less bureaucracy.

Clinton may be looked upon as someone who will bring about more regulation but she favors a guest worker and also supports two programs that Obama started: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. These programs allow children of illegal immigrants born in the U.S. and their parent temporary deferment from deportation, while allowing them time to apply for citizenship.

The members of the California Fresh Fruit Association are generally favoring the Democratic candidates on immigration reform. However the farmers are still thinking that there is more to discuss on the Democrats stand on the Endangered Species Act. The farming industry blames the Endangered Species Act for directing large amounts in the San Joaquin Delta. California agriculture is suffering from a severe drought so this act has become a major hot-button issue.

by Christine Rudolph, CGO contributor, Twitter, Facebook

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