The recent, multi-year drought might be over, but there are many challenges facing farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. The proliferation of deeper groundwater wells had enough impact on the water table as to leave some farmers with wells that ran dry, and the state in the position of considering new regulations to protect ground water availability. In addition, federal immigration policy threatens the availability of labor and free trade, all while President Trump’s Wall wastes money that could be invested in infrastructure, such as dams and pipelines that could address future water issues.
In addition to immigration reform, which will insure the availability of labor and a border policy that enhance trade, as well as a commitment to make wise investments in infrastructure, rather than squandering taxpayer money on a mere symbol that will do more tangible harm than good, I propose several changes to the tax code to encourage the agricultural sector to make more efficient use of resources, and reward those that implement changes that improve their ecological footprint.
Specifically, deductions and tax credits for the installation or upgrades to irrigation systems that reduce water usage, or runoff. These would also extend to upgrades to equipment that reduce power consumption. And finally, a lowering of the overall tax rate for the growth and sale of any crops that have been identified as being optimal for the soil, climate, and geography of a particular piece of land. (And the costs of any testing, or consultation to determine this would also be deductible and supported by tax credits.) Rather than top-down regulations forcing farmers to endure additional burdens during hard times, why wouldn’t we reward those who are already doing the right thing, and incentive those on the fence to make that first step? Having better information about the land itself, and what it can optimally support as determined by the latest scientific research, and encouraging the use of more modern and efficient equipment and systems, we not only make life better for the farmer, both in terms of tax liability and crop yield, but we make strides towards a better overall State and National ecology for the future.