The changing landscape of agriculture – TC Voices talks about the future of farming

Farming has forever had its woes.

Too dry. Too wet. Too hot. Too cold. Need more land. Need more money. Price of feed, labor, stock, land, seed, equipment is too high. And when you manage to balance all that, a cyclone blows the roof off the barn.

For the farmer, those are simply the whims of nature they deal with year in and year out.

These days, though, the pressures on agriculture seem to be ever more critical. Climate change, regulations on groundwater pumping, the environment, whimsical market forces, urbanization, political tension on immigration … and what is it now?

It is not an accident that The Changing Landscape of Agriculture will take place in the same month as Earth Day.

The forum will be Tuesday, April 9, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 210 W. Center Ave in Visalia moderated by Paul Hurley, retired Opinion Page Editor at the Visalia Times-Delta. Doors open at 6:30.

Tulare County Voices at 210 is a monthly forum co-sponsored by First Presbyterian Church and the Visalia Times-Delta. It is devoted to examining issues of importance to the community.


Issues to be discussed

TC Voices has noticed the pressures on agriculture. Like many others in the Valley, we worry how these forces affect our region’s No. 1 industry. What is its future? What is our future?

The panel includes:

  • Aaron Fukuda, Tulare Irrigation District
  • Gregory Liebau, Sequoia Riverlands Trust
  • Ian Vietti Tulare, County Farm Bureau
  • Jessie Kanter, University of California Cooperative Extension

Among the issues to be discussed: Where do they see agriculture going in the foreseeable future? What is agribusiness doing to prepare for the effects of climate change? How will they cope with the demands of groundwater management? What is the place in the Valley’s agriculture for regenerative farming practices? How might farmland be better used in the future?

How will changes in labor, immigration and increased mechanization affect farming? And what will the typical San Joaquin Valley farm look like in 50 years?

When all the questions and challenges are considered, the future of agriculture comes down to just a couple of questions: Is ag moving fast enough to meet the demands of climate change, the conversion [and conservation] of energy sources, and the requirements for land and water?

How does agribusiness adapt to these changing conditions so that the San Joaquin Valley continues to be the most productive source of food on the planet?

Those questions won’t be settled in one 90-minute discussion. But raising the questions is the first step in developing solutions. Solar farms are installed in fallowed fields. New means of irrigation are installed, and new methods of pest management are attempted. In fact, the many demands of how we are using land, water and crops are forcing innovations in farming that weren’t even known a generation ago.

If it is true that farming has always had its problems, it is just as true that farmers have always adapted new methods for solutions. That transformation is happening now. This is the perfect time for the conversation about “The Changing Landscape of Agriculture.”

Join Tulare County Voices at 210 on Tuesday, April 9, at 7 p.m. and join the community conversation.

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