By John Herlihy, CVFT Board Member
I have been involved in agriculture since high school. I did not grow up on a farm, but since high school have been involved either from the animal side or crop side of agriculture. This gives me a unique perspective on the farmland conservation issue.
I see farmland conservation from the farmer side and the consumer side. I am watching California, a truly amazing state for agriculture lose prime farmland at an unsustainable rate. I want to offer those who are fortunate enough to own ground to have the opportunity, if they so wish, to protect it from conversion to housing or commercial or industrial uses. CVFT is a landowner’s partner in protecting their land that we all benefit from.
Currently, little attention is being paid to farmland conservation from the public or policy maker’s point of view. Agriculture keeps being put in a smaller circle, yet is able to maintain or exceed prior production – serving an ever-growing state and world population. At some point this will end. Without organizations like CVFT there is no way for a landowner to forever protect the farm ground he owns. Conservation easements are the vehicle to pass on farmland to future generations and not lose the farm due to paying exorbitant inheritance taxes.
I would like to see CVFT’s goal of conserving 20,000 acres by 2020 hit sooner rather than later. I plan to be a part of making this happen during my time with CVFT. I encourage everyone to become interested and understand what CVFT is doing before the loss of farmland hits critical level.
It is our job to ensure urban-area children have access to local foods from farms not too far away. Everyone should have the ability to experience being in the dirt, playing in it or planting a plant in it and watching it grow. That is why it is so important to not just protect the big farms, but the small ones that children in the cities can be close to.
Farmland conservation is not for everyone. However, it is a tool for all landowners to have in their toolbox if they need it or desire to use it. Smart business people will look at it in that context. For others, it may be an emotional issue. The ground has been in the family for generations and they wish to keep it that way.
As a member of the CVFT board of directors, I am here to see 20,000 acres of farmland conserved as soon as possible. Please join us in making this happen – so children everywhere can see and benefit from local farms.
About John Herlihy:
John spent just shy of 20 years with Farm Credit. He has been in the cattle business a good portion of his adult life until recent back trouble forced him out. He earned his California pest control advisor license just out of college in the late 1970s while working for a chemical company before moving onto his role with Farm Credit. John retired from Farm Credit and returned to the fertilizer business.