Commentary: Action request: Tell us how regulations hamper you


Issue Date: March 16, 2011
By Rich Matteis
Rich Matteis

The negative impacts of over-regulation are a very hot topic today at the national level and in Sacramento. As California's economy continues to struggle with no significant recovery in sight in the near future, more attention is being given to the regulatory obstacles in our state that impede business growth and stifle the creation of new jobs.

There is no question that layer upon layer of regulation deters many companies from doing business in our state. Like all other businesses, farms and ranches also suffer under a regulatory burden seen in no other state in the country.

Air regulations, water quality rules, statutory animal care practices such as those imposed by Proposition 2, product standards and requirements, labor regulations, CEQA requirements, Endangered Species Act rules and restrictions, wetlands preservation statutes and more all add up to a formidable framework of overlapping rules and regulations that jeopardize the future of California agriculture and the economy. These rules are also a significant hindrance when trying to attract and recruit the next generation of farmers and ranchers to lead agriculture into the future.

As the current state budget deficit of $26.6 billion is being debated and dealt with, many decision makers realize that the state government does not only have a spending problem, but we also have a revenue problem that can only be resolved by getting business going again in California. To that end, many are jumping on the "regulatory reform" bandwagon as a meaningful step to improve the California business climate.

With the support of the Democratic leadership, Sens. Fran Pavley, D-Santa Monica, and Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, have introduced legislation to require all state agencies to review existing regulations and weed out duplicative, inconsistent and outdated rules. Many Republicans have their own regulatory reform bills, some requiring similar reviews, economic impact analysis and ongoing, periodic re-evaluation of regulations. And Gov. Brown has indicated an interest in regulatory reforms as well, as a means of spurring job growth and creation.

When the California Farm Bureau Federation prepared its most recent strategic plan, over-regulation was identified by our members and leaders as one of four priority concerns for agriculture. At last, we are in an economic environment that may pave the way for some real, beneficial regulatory reforms.

However, your input is needed to move this effort forward.

One way to do that is to respond to the survey on the CFBF website at www.cfbf.com/regulations/. Through the survey, we're seeking examples of conflicting or duplicative regulations, of regulations that fail to achieve their intended outcome, and of overly onerous regulations. We want you to provide specific examples and your suggestions of how to reform the regulations to achieve the outcome they intend.

Information from the survey will be used by the Ag Vision Subcommittee on Smarter Regulation in devising regulatory relief proposals specifically designed to deal with regulatory burdens faced by farmers and ranchers.

We urge all Farm Bureau members to take a few minutes to complete the online survey and we ask that you do this by April 15. Tell us about your experience in the field in dealing with agency requirements, so we can give guidance to the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Board of Food and Agriculture, as they implement the Ag Vision recommendations for securing the future of California agriculture.

Thank you in advance for your assistance with this matter and we look forward to receiving your input.

(Rich Matteis is administrator of the California Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted at rmatteis@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.