Tulare Mayor takes on the Ag community

This story has been updated with a comment from Interim City Manager Willard Epps.

Comments by Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones have spread like wildfire after he claimed that agriculture “strips the natural resources and contaminates our ground water and air” and “causes asthma and valley fever, cancer and kills bees.” His comment’s got agricultural leaders talking.

A heated discussion broke out Friday on the “My Job Depends on Ag” Facebook page when Jones’ comment was shared by one of its administrators.

The comment was screenshotted in by Erik Wilson of Dos Palos, from a conversation taking place on his sister’s Facebook page. Subsequently, it has also started Tulare talking.

“Here’s your mayor Tulare. Tulare, Ca home to the World Ag Expo. The most productive agricultural county in the entire USA. Tulare Ag generates more dollars alone than some states do. And this is your mayor? What a complete moron,” Wilson said with the post.

The mayor had written:

“You’re having a conversation in your head. Ag depends on the people. Ag strips the natural resources and contaminates our ground water and air. Ag causes asthma and valley fever, cancer and kills bees. You can’t educate me. You’re trained. You can share with me what you’ve been trained to think. We can debate the difference between what you think and what I think.”

To put this in context, a conversation had evolved on Wilson’s sister’s personal Facebook page regarding thoughts as to whether Governor Jerry Brown and the state government are restricting agriculture and limiting water supplies to Valley farmers. The posts just prior to Jones’ read.

“I just don’t understand how you can be the mayor of Tulare and hate agriculture. You’re literally biting the hands that feed you.”

“I don’t hate anything,” Jones wrote. “Ag depends on the people. I know you agree with that but. Thats the way it is. Our Military protects your right to Farm. Our Government, “The People” Subsidizes your industry. I love Ag. I don’t like people who claim to hate California, while taking so much from California. If you don’t like it leave.”

“Like all the people that make the statements have been fed an agenda, environmentally, socially and financially, they write articles, create restrictions, enforce sanctions and yet make absolutely zero effort to go visit family farms to gain a better understanding. So all that tells me is we have a bunch of “educated” fools that would rather stay ignorant and complacent in their agendas to get votes than to be educated in their understanding of Agriculture. I’m in education and my job without a doubt depends on Agriculture. Every rural community I serve, the children I teach, the entire infrastructure if [of] those towns depend on Ag,” Kayla Wilson responded.

Then came Jones’ controversial post, shared by Erik Wilson to My Job Depends on Ag. The exchange became quite heated on private page between a few different people. Erik Wilson told Jones, as an administrator of the My Job Depends on Ag Facebook group he was going to share the post on the group.

“I’m blasting you on my Facebook page called My Job Depends on Ag. 81,000 people are reading your dumbass comments. Many of them are from Tulare. Have a nice day Mayor”

Wilson is a co-founder of the My Job Depends on Ag movement. He said he has never met Jones, nor had any conversation with him, until now. He grew up in a big city, he said, but now his job does depend on Ag – he owns a custom Ag spraying business. It gives him a special insight into both sides of various Ag-related issues, he said.

“I read posts like these from people all the time,” he said. “I thought that’s one of the dumbest,” he said of the mayor’s post. “And, I didn’t even yet know he was mayor. I’m aghast the mayor of the largest Ag city in the country would say those things. I couldn’t let a public official get away with it – I’m thoroughly disgusted.”

Another administrator of My Job Depends on Ag is third-generation Lindsay-Strathmore citrus farmer, Eric Beam. He commented on the Facebook post a few hours later.

“Surely he’s [Jones] not talking about the thousands of generational family farms that built his community and continue to support it. Surely he’s not talking about the many thousands of jobs that Ag provides to those who live in his community. Surely he’s not talking about the tax revenue generated by his city when farmers and dairymen buy vehicles, tractors, parts and services at local businesses. Surely he’s not talking about the folks who sit on school boards after long days of work on farms. Surely he’s not talking people who live and work on their farms in THEIR community. I’ll be the first to admit that Ag isn’t perfect and that we have some work to do in certain areas, but for a sitting city leader to have such a disconnect with his community takes ignorance to a whole new level. Mr. Jones, you have a standing invitation to come and spend some time at my family’s farm that has been operating in Tulare County for over 70 years. Hopefully I can educate you on what it means to be a part of the community. You need it….. “

“It bothers me a lot that farmers continue to be vilified and separated out from the rest of the community,” Beam said in an interview. “We live here. Tulare is really the center of agriculture – when stuff [equipment] breaks down, you go to Tulare. It’s where the Farm Show is held. About one-third of the people there are employed through the dairy business alone”

One commenter, Vicki Fien Dykstra, shared a graph from Wikipedia indicating the four largest employers from Tulare are involved with Ag.

“What really bothers me,” Beam said, “Is that he [Jones] said, ‘You can’t educate me.’ You don’t deserve to be a community leader if you can’t listen and lead the community.”

Executive Director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau Tricia Stever-Blattler put out the following statement:

“The Tulare County Farm Bureau has been alerted to the comments on the My Job Depends on Ag Facebook page and are deeply disturbed by the perspective voiced by Carlton Jones.  As the mayor of a city located in the epicenter of Agriculture his comments reflect a perspective that we would disagree with strongly. While we have work to do in educating this individual we believe his comments should not be allowed to speak for the heart and will of Tulare’s citizens, many of which are deeply rooted in agriculture and recognize the positive impact and economic vitality that agriculture provides to our county, state and nation.”

While he did not wish to speak for the Farm Bureau itself, current president Joe Russell, a citrus farmer in Visalia, did have some personal comments to share.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” he said. “California grows the safest food in the world. Most people don’t know what it takes to be a California farmer. We have the most stringent regulations in the country and the world.

“If there is a problem, bring it forward to us. Find a solution.”

Tulare’s Interim City Manager Willard Epps said the comments didn’t reflect on the council or city as a whole.

“The mayor has his own opinions,” Epps said. “Don’t judge the city, or the other council members by the mayor’s comments. Everyone is able to express their own opinion.”

Mayor Jones was unavailable for comment. As per usual when this reporter reached out to him, he hung up on her. As of about 2pm on Friday, Tulare City Hall had received approximately a dozen calls from concerned people regarding the mayor’s comments.

The main city line had also received a handful more calls. The My Job Depends on Ag group’s Facebook page has 335 shares on the original post with 455 emoji responses, and an abundance of comments upon comments made.

Included are remarks from various Tulare citizens inviting anyone and everyone to attend the city’s next council meeting, June 5, to voice their opinion.

28 thoughts on “Tulare Mayor takes on the Ag community

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  1. the next time the mayor wants to eat let him move out of town and and leach of off of some other city.. maybe he can use their credit card to but his free lunch

  2. This moron (Meyer) needs to be recalled and kicked out of town,,this guy dosent understand Tulare county is famous for agriculture not the crap he makes ..its time to clean out this brainless jerks.

  3. My business depends on the ag season each year although we do paralegal and accounting taxes etc
    I fam apauled by the mayors rrmark does he realize with us business people, wotkers, families and our voice he wouldn’t be in office

  4. He has become an embarrassment to Tulare. My family has toiled, sweated, and bled in the so called destruction of the land for 88 years in Tulare. It is what has made California the 5th largest economy in the world. Tulare County the largest milk producer in the nation. It has supported four generations of my fsmily who in turn give back to Tulare in taxes, supporting Tulare Schools, sponsoring sports teams, Encore Theatre, churches, and Tulare Youth.

    He has no idea about what it takes to farm, the regulations that we abide by to put food on his table, that is safe to eat. Do you believe that I would poison my own family on the land we farm and live on, We educate ourselves to be stewarts of the land, conserve its
    recourses for the generations to come.

    Carlton works for the City of Fresno Fire as an engineer which is gee also dependent on ag for the revenue to pay his salary. I wonder how his view would play out with them, He is either wanting to distract attention away from another issue such as the police chief firing, City Manager termination, credit card abuse, or verbal attacks on the Citizens that he supposedly represents. If I were a business looking to locate in Tulare I would think twice at the present with him as Mayor,

    Tulare it is time as you have done with the Hospital Board and Crmetery Board and recall, reboot, and restart the City Council members who condonr this outlandish, childish, immature actions we call a City Council.

    Thank you to the new Tulare Crmetery Board for the upkeep of the grounds. We recently buried a member in our family plot area. We were iimpressed with the changes.

  5. This man should be ashemed of himself.
    Our entire community depends on agriculture to thrive. He forgets who pays his salary and is completely ignorant to the fact that our community was built on, and has sustained itself off agriculture for many years. We supply a huge amount of the nations food and dairy products.
    He should be completely embarrassed by of himself for taking to social media to blast his own ignorance. Tulare isn’t the best town in the world, but we do take a sense of pride in the Ag Show and our sense of community…a community built around ag.

    Get this idiot out of office. I’m afraid to say anything directly about him since he’s known to sue for discrimination…ehhhemmm.

    Get out of Tulare Jones “if you don’t like it”, as I believe you said to someone on Facebook. You don’t belong in office. Move to San Francisco and spew your liberal garbage to people who will naively support you.

  6. The Mayors post had nothing that appeared offensive. It was just an opinion. My advice for anyone would be to do your research before jumping to conclusions. Now was it wise for a “politician” to share his personal opinion? Probably not. We live in a concerning present moment. It is time where our very freedom of speech is being threatened. I have met Mayor Carlton Jones and he is a wonderful individual that appears genuinely concerned with making a difference for the community of Tulare. Some of these comments on this stream are much more offensive in their issues against the City of Tulare’s first African American Mayor Carlton Jones.

    • WOW, So he should continue to lie to all of Tulare about his personal opinions? He was elected not for his RACE, but for his loyalty to our way of life. Now we see he is a complete “First African Mayor” moron….Jones commits credit card fraud, then has the Chief fired for investigating his crime.. What an EMBARRASSMENT to our City…

  7. That’s what the people voted. It’s the people fault to vote for someone who pretends to like our city. I think the should stand for the Ag and boot him out

  8. Jamie Boley,
    Is it necessary to throw in the “African American” part of your comment? What about just “Tulare’s Mayor”. I am a firm believer that people are people. Race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and background are not something that defines someone. Yes he is African American, but would you have felt the need to say “Tulare’s Caucasian Mayor” or “Tulare’s Gay Mayor”, if that were the case? I don’t believe he is any different than anyone else. He is a human being. Please refrain from taking a situation about someone’s actions and throwing in comments about his ethnicity.

    A proud lifelong Tulare resident and gay man who has been 100% supported by my community

    • Dear AJ,

      I honestly believe that it is time for other good honest people to have a chance in attempting to make this world a better place. And yes, that includes all people. I honestly find it refreshing to have a person such as Carlton Jones trying to make a difference in this crazy world. He seems a person impatient with the “politics as usual” and maybe this could create issues for people who hate change. But I apologize to the Mayor and to you AJ, if you found my comment offensive this was never my intent.

  9. Why mayor does not leave the mayor seat. Mayor knows that nobody in Tulare wants him as a mayor. Then why play this stupid mayor shit. Wow wake up tulare.

  10. Typical talk of Jones. He is a embarresment to the City of Tulare. The city council needs to remove him from his maypr position. You can ber none will agree with him. Citizens of Tulare you can speak for three minutes at any council meeting. Let them know how you feel.

  11. For Shame Big Ag/Farmers Rule the County there!! While continuing to contaminate the water supply!, Raping the people of decent Air & Water!!!…. disgusting!! Big Money spent on propaganda!!!

    • Do you really believe that Lucy? Raping the people of air and water?
      What propaganda?
      Do you eat food? Do you go to the grocery store?
      Do you drive a vehicle of some sort?
      Do you live in Tulare County?
      Do you know the definition of rape or propaganda for that matter?
      Or are you simply just jumping on the liberal train, because it’s cool?
      Are you an environmentalist conducting studies to get the facts of the impacts of the Ag industry in Tulare County?
      What do you do for a living?
      Rape? Propaganda?
      Interesting comment. I am intrigued to see your rebuttal.

    • For Shame Lucy, The Air quality is low because Tulare is in a valley and the smog from up north rests in the valley. And the water problem is perpetuated because the same people causing the air pollution care more about some dumb fish than they do about the worlds food source. And who is funding some sort of propaganda? look valley fever isn’t caused by Ag because valley fever isn’t only in locations with Ag. Its caused by a fungus that when disturbed by oh say wind or construction or digging releases spores in the air that can give susceptible people valley fever. I’ve read about some pesticides causing cancer but i haven’t seen any reports on how planting trees or vegetables causes cancer… but maybe Im only reading Big Ag propaganda. It’d be nice if the Mayor of “Ag center USA” would be more positive and focus on the good changes Ag has made over the years to reduce water consumption and the effect it has on the land/resources… but instead the Mayor attacks Ag and calls Farmers welfare recipients. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

  12. So, I have tried to refrain from even checking in on this as it seems to be status quo for the good Mayor Jones. Foot to mouth after speaking on something he knows little to nothing about, regurgitating something he read or was told and portraying it as his own thoughts or facts, then spitting it out on of all places social media, with the passion of a Church Pastor preaching the word of the good book. Then comes the back peddling, the attempt to call an audible, distract and confuse, delay, counter accuse, the same ‘ol chestnut of “My comments were taken out of context” and finally just go silent. As if some higher power whispered in the Good Mayor’s ear “Shut up stupid”.
    Of all the soap boxes to stand on and preach from, this is probably the one he should have kept the soap in.

    I was born and raised in Tulare, City of. 3rd generation, my wife has the same honor. Her family embedded in the Ag world, mine we rode the fringe of the industry in support roles. Our Grandfathers veterans of WW2 and Korea our fathers Vietnam, I the first Persian Excursion. We all returned home from foreign lands to the smell of the Tulare’s Dairy industry and welcomed it, we were home.

    My closest friends are leaders in the industry. Men and women who fuel the central valley’s economy and feed the world, the same men and women who everyday are highly scrutinized and lobbied against by environmentalists, government, animal rights activists, and now the good Mayor of our beloved city. I won’t even get into the water issues, nor the fact the Ag Industry is victimized daily by thieves and vandals.

    The city that is the epicenter of all that is Agriculture. In fact every February we have a little get together south of town called The INTERNATIONAL Ag Expo…… one would say the biggest gathering in the world for the industry. Lots of dollars flow through our community during this event.

    If your kids went or currently go to school in the area take a look at the donations those schools receive, you’ll see a lot of Ag related businesses. Look in the back of the year books, the backs of Cal Ripken baseball and TYSA jerseys, a lot of Ag related businesses. The green V on the back of Fresno State Football helmets. I would say that not a lot happens in the city without some help from the Ag industry that surrounds us.

    Members or our Agricultural community have done more for this City than the good Mayor has done or will do in his lifetime, there will be no comparison. There have been books written on this County’s Ag greatness. I doubt you’ll pick up a book up referencing the greatness of Mayor Carlton Jones (short of a crime story).

    So I ask you….. what has the good Mayor done for the city? I attend the meetings or at least watch them when I cannot attend. I vote in every election. What has he done?

    -Hospital/ Non-existent
    – Police Department/ He has successfully dismantled and ripped the heart out it. I have seen it first hand. Those who disagree with this……fine, but to your disagreement remember from previous posts, I am closer and know more than you realize. Yes it was 80% Carlton Jones and about 20% disgruntled employees.
    -Cemetery/ I’ve cleaned weeds off my fathers headstone more than once (I realize a work in progress).

    These are the big ones. Who does the good Mayor support? Does he love his City? Is he the God fearing man he claims to be? Does he follow the word of God? It seems this is his fall back during any confrontation.

    Has he united Tulare? Are we Tulare Strong? Do we deserve to take that banner from places like Boston Strong (terrorist bombing) Vegas Strong (mass shooting) Houston Strong (hurricane)…… I mean It’s kind of a odd to me we quickly jumped on that, yet most of our issues seem minor to those mentioned above. But we are not united under one Tulare Strong banner…… we have Tulare Strong (Anti Carlton Jones) and Tulare Strong (Pro Carlton Jones). I guess it depends on your politics?

    The fact is the good Mayor is a bully. He always has been. He doesn’t hide it. He has come of his chair during meetings to confront speakers. He has a history of violence, it’s documented in court. His favorite quote “Yeah, what are you going to do about it”. One can only assume what that means. He doesn’t support Law Enforcement, he claims he does, but he really doesn’t and that’s been proven also. It’s laughable that some officers supported him, can’t wait to see how that plays out.

    The good Mayor can be un-seated as Mayor, but only by the council who put him there. There’s maybe (2) sitting members that might vote to remove him, but that’s not enough. He will sit on the council as long as he wants, he has snowballed his district. Nobody is going to stand or run against him. The good Mayor holds the race card close and is not afraid to throw it. The good Mayor has baited people into no win debates on numerous occasions and if it’s on social media and his foe gets the upper hand, he deletes deletes deletes.

    This Ag situation has gone national folks. This is a big deal. His comments however you portrayed them were in bad taste and moronic and before he could recant or delete …….the entire AG world took notice.

    For the love of God man, is he that egotistical, does he believe that he is that untouchable. He is no doubt a Tyrant driven by the next (bigger) crown he can put a top his ever growing head. I don’t know how the man sits down, let alone walk through a standard sized doorway.

    The Agricultural industry isn’t perfect, but they strive for perfection. Those folks work hard for everything they have and have done it for generations. You’ll find know other industry that pushes education the way Ag does. The generosity of our Ag Industy is unprecedented.

    I support Ag.
    My Job depends on Ag.
    I protect Ag.

    May God bless the farmer, the dairyman, the cattleman, the grower, the industry and all who support it and defend it.
    God bless Tulare and all of Tulare County.
    God bless America.

    • AMEN Filo Beto! You Nailed it! Everyone should take heed of your wise words, especially those “pillars of our community” involved.

  13. Very well said Filo Beto. My job depends on the ag industry, Carlton needs to be scooted out of his seat as Mayor and thrown out the door.

  14. Jones’ comments were inartful to say the least, but he’s not wrong. Large scale agriculture is hard on the environment and those of us who live in agricultural regions pay the price.

    But it is, of course, necessary. We must eat, and so must the urban majority that can’t grow their own food and must rely on regions like ours.

    The vociferous reactions to this comment is childish and short sighted. There is no need for tribalism in your support of your industry; there are not “anti” and “pro” factions when it comes to agriculture.

    There are simply people, all of whom must eat, and also breathe the air and drink the water pumped from our ground.

    I applaud the local farmers who work hard every day to minimize the impact of their farming on the environment, those who implement best practices and innovate in an effort to be cleaner, more efficient, and to produce better crops; but we sell ourselves short when we pretend that their is no room for improvement.

    • George, I so appreciate your comment, which in my opinion is “very artful”. Thanks!

    • I agree that the tribalist paradigm is dysfunctional. Of course industrialized ag come with problems that we must adapt to. The history of Westlands and their expansion into unsuitable soils that leach out selenium is and example. The past history of unrestrained application of fertilizer has led directly to a rising problem of nitrates in drinking water.
      But society’s prosperity is directly dependent on ag that feeds more and more people using less and less human labor. We just need to fully understand the costs that are not being paid at the grocery store.

    • George, I appreciate especially your very last clause: “we sell ourselves short when we pretend that their is no room for improvement.”

      I just recently watched the documentary “Fresh”, and it does an excellent job of surfacing the difference between ag that is truly life-giving and ag that is not. Worth watching for anyone who lives in this Great Central Valley, and especially so those who farm the land themselves — for whom I have a great deal of respect.

  15. Mr Jones.
    So sad you have to make so many good hard working people upset. These people have been working for generations to feed the world and employ many hard working people in the process with the resources they have to do it with. This has been the number one Ag sector of the world for a long time and many people from around the world are proud of that and what we have all accomplished. If you choose to not support the community in that you wish to run. Feel free to move to a city that has no agriculture. I am sure it has millions of cars that give off pollution. Maybe you can go bash them for driving to work to make a living and polluting the air that we breath. All that pollution is cancer causing too if you talk to the “right” scientist. While we try to produce more God designed trees that clean the air from out human footprints.

  16. I think the nitrates in the ground water poisoning well across the valley are the result of an effort to improve yield. I don’t think that farmers understood the consequences, but now we need to protect the water used to grow fooe and the water that we need to drink.

  17. Tulare county famos for worst air in the nation. Dustbowl farming pracrices and exhaust. Dropping, water tables, a labor pool of illegals. Thanks Ag. You job depends on taxpayers cleaning up the mess you leave.

    Tulare county needs clean farms not corporate welfare

    • So you must not think that air pollution comes from the big city’s over the mountains and then stuck in our valley until we get wind or rain Really if you and the mayor hate Tulare so badly then leave.

  18. truth
    the truth is we have a mess in our city goverment and the only way to clean it up is to remove the mess we have on the council.. he has every person who works for the city looking over their shoulder

  19. Carlton Jones took on AG and lost miserably. He lost because of his lack of integrity, education, experience and erratic self absorbed behavior. He has to keep forcing his name off of the reorganization agenda in an attempt to keep his title for his ego not for the good of the city. The scandals and corruption are surfacing and it’s time for Carlton to go and the Police Chief to return.

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