California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Jared Blumenfeld has said “several times” that he would like to see 75% of the farms in California transition to organic practices by 2050, according to Don Cameron, president of the State Board of Food and Ag.
Speaking at the Western Plant Health conference on Thursday, Cameron, who grows a mix of organic and conventional commodities, shared concerns about how Blumenfeld’s statement “has been thrown out there as a big idea.”
“Currently, we don't have the market,” he said. “And we don't have the labor to keep 75% of the farms free of weeds.”
After detailing the state’s $1.1 billion sustainable ag package, Cameron said: “If you have any questions about where the state is headed, follow the money. You'll know exactly what's moving and what's ahead for us.”
He described agriculture’s future as extremely challenging, though he was optimistic that “with some luck, and some innovation, and some financial help,” agriculture can still have a bright future.
A CalEPA spokesperson explained to Agri-Pulse that Blumenfeld had offered the increased transition to organic as an example of potential goals that a new sustainable pest management work group could recommend, during a discussion at one of their initial meetings.
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Cameron resides on that work group, which is tasked with recommending alternatives to certain pesticides. He called it unfortunate he was just one of two farmers in a diverse group of more than two dozen members.
Blumenfeld was a driving force behind the Newsom administration's sudden ban on chlorpyrifos in 2019 and has taken a strong stance against what he views as toxic pesticides, including within his personal podcast on environmental issues, called Podship Earth.