California Farm Bureau Administrator Jim Houston is frustrated that agriculture was not consulted ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal Friday to raise pesticide fees on farmers. Newsom had described the policy as transitioning the industry to less-toxic chemicals while being “punitive to bad actors that are flagrant [violators].”

In a conversation with Agri-Pulse Monday, Houston said this is another example of Newsom paying “a lot of lip service” to farmers before portraying them as villains, and he was not aware of any evidence of “flagrant violators.”

“[The administration is] over there theorizing and criticizing us,” he said. “Then we're over here actually trying to solve problems on the farm.”

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Newsom consults the ag community, Houston argued, only after developing policies. For example, the administration has not consulted the Farm Bureau about vaccine distribution, despite ag workers being a top priority and accounting for more than 800,000 employees. Houston said the governor instead hosted prominent labor leaders last week on a call about the pandemic.

He worried Newsom could also be reinforcing harmful myths about where food comes from. He pointed to a recent moment when Newsom thanked only grocery store workers for putting California’s food on the table during the pandemic.