Tensions will boil over again as the discussion of a proposal that could cost farmers millions, comes to Kern County.
This proposal aims to prevent poisonous nitrates from seeping into our drinking water from farms. But, farmers said the regulation is unnecessary, and, if passed, will eliminate hundreds of farms in Kern County.
"It would put most every farmer out of business out here," said Dennis Palla, an alfalfa, cotton, and almond farmer in Buttonwillow. "That's my livelihood. It's my family's livelihood. This is a fourth generation farm. Now, I have my son and son-in-law involved in it, and I hope to have my grandchildren involved in it."
But, he doesn't know if there will be any farm left for them because of a proposal that aims to regulate irrigation and fertilizer he said could cost farmers up to $180 an acre.
"If you add $180 an acre to row crop farming out here it will cease to exist," said Palla.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is proposing an Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program General Order. It aims to prevent nitrates from farming fertilizers from seeping into drinking water. But, Kern County farmers like Palla said it's unnecessary.
"We're not putting applications of water and fertilizer in large amounts and letting it have at the crop," said Palla. "We are actually, in essence, putting it on in a way to where it's micro-managed."
The board will hear concerns from Palla and other farmers Friday at the Doubletree Hotel in Bakersfield starting at 8 a.m.
"We hope that it will be a productive meeting and we'll get people's input," said Clay Rodgers of the Central Valley Regional Quality Control Board. "Our board will hear what they have to say, consider those comments, and try to find a way to move forward."
Palla hopes that move forward doesn't mean passing the order.
"This will be a major blow if this goes through," said Palla.
The Water Quality Board doesn't expect an order for the Tulare Lake Basin to be voted on until the spring. But, for farmers in the east San Joaquin Valley, it could pass next month.