California trade groups, growers appeal water regulations

05/01/2012 09:51:00 AM
Mike Hornick

California Farm Bureau’s Merkley said the rules unjustifiably lay bigger burdens on larger growers.

“If you’re farming more than 500 acres or have certain inputs or commodities, the order bumps you into a higher tier with much greater requirements,” Merkley said. “Suppose you’ve got a 510-acre contiguous farming operation. To say that’s going to have more impact on water quality than 510 1-acre operations is absurd.”

Larger growers are able to spread costs around for water quality programs, he said.

“Size has no bearing on how well you’re managing an operation,” Merkley said.

California Farm Bureau is developing estimates on the cost of monitoring for testimony before the state board, which could still be months away.

“In the Central Coast order, growers will have to pay for lab work individually in addition to coalition monitoring they may be doing, and that is cost prohibitive,” Merkley said. “If you’re in the top tier, you have to monitor at the edge of your field, which is extremely expensive. The only analogy I can give would be if the city of Salinas required each resident to monitor water on his property before it gets into the storm drain. The order develops reams of data and paper that will do little to improve water quality.”

Companies also object that an amendment included in the final rule was not made available during public comment at the March hearing. The amendment includes language drafted by a representative of Monterey Coastkeeper, Merkley said.

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