It is given as one of the major reasons businesses choose not to move here and for those already here, consider leaving.
The regulatory burden on the small farmer, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, makes the point clearly.
“Farmers must live with plagues of uncertainties – pests, crop prices, labor shortages and, of course, the weather.
“Listen to a family farmer in California like Doug Brower, and there’s a whole other reason it can be such a struggle: a tangle of regulations.
“Brower splits his time between Folsom and the Uhrhammer homestead hard by the Merced River south of Turlock, where he grows almonds and walnuts on 40 acres. His wife’s family moved there just after World War II. Since he retired from 30 years as a military contract officer, Brower has been spending more time on the farm. Since his father-in-law passed away last October, he has taken over running it.
“The more he’s learned about all the government rules he’s supposed to follow, the more frustrated he has become. By his count, the farm is subject to at least a half-dozen local, state and federal agencies.
“There’s the state Water Resources Control Board, which wants to know how much water he’s pumping out of the river to irrigate his orchards. The orchards have rights to about 405 acre-feet of water a year. Since he can’t afford fancy monitoring equipment, he mostly guesstimates his monthly diversions, but stays well below the limit.
“There’s the state Department of Pesticide Regulation, which requires reports on what he sprays to protect his almonds from the navel orangeworm and walnuts from the husk fly and codling moth. If he didn’t do it himself as a state-certified applicator, and had an employee spray instead, there would be many more safety rules to worry about.
“There’s the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, which issues the permits he has to get to burn pruned limbs and other agricultural waste.
“There’s state and federal Occupational Safety and Health and the state Employment Development Department, which want paperwork for the farm’s one full-time worker.
“Until he found out at a seminar that he didn’t have enough fuel to qualify, Brower thought he’d have to come up with a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan for his above-ground petroleum tanks.
“His home office is strewn with bulging files as he tries to keep track of all the requirements and when he’s supposed to submit reports.
“I’m trying to do the right thing,” he told me as he steered a beat-up golf cart through neat rows of nut trees.
“Brower says farmers like him are expected to know about every regulation issued by any government agency that might somehow apply to them. That’s impossible, he says.”