Thursday, May 15, 2008
The temperature in Sacramento is supposed to reach 103 degrees today, but even the early arrival of summer won’t stop the enormous farm production of California’s central valley, which is one of the greatest efforts of land use in human history. Law and engineering have turned the skillet-flat valley into some of the most valuable rural spaces in the world.
Further east, the U.S. House of Representatives passed yesterday a new comprehensive farm bill, whose cost over five years is estimated at close to $300 billion. Although President Bush has threatened to veto it, the House approved the bill by more than enough to override a veto. Critics say that the bill includes too many subsidies in an era of high farm income, but, if history as any lesson, it is probably too early to tell how the details of the subsidy systems will affect rural land use.
Meanwhile, a state assemblyman in California has introduced a bill that would allow farmers to sell processed foods, such as jams and pies, from roadside stands, without having to meet tough state health and safety requirements. Farmers claim that the requirements force them to dispose of tons of damaged but still useable produce each year. The bill would also allow them to sell bottled water and soda. I wonder whether grocers in Sacramento, who have to meet the stringent health requirements, are hot under the collar over the proposal …