Does Measure C Protect Ag?

I’ve always wondered how the proponents of Measure C could justify their clams that Measure C “protects agriculture.” It just didn’t make sense.  Now I know.

The letter below was published on April 26, 2018 in The Wine Industry Advisor and is from the “Growers/Vintners for Responsible Agriculture,” signed by Andy Beckstoffer, Tom Clark, Randy Dunn, Beth Milliken, Joyce Sears and Warren Winiarski.

They clearly state that Measure C promotes agriculture because without water from the hills there would be no agriculture on the Valley floor.  To protect their water source, they must keep the watersheds pristine.  Quoting from their letter: “Measure C was designed to ensure ongoing farming success in the Ag Preserve by ensuring that water remains available from the Agricultural Watershed zoning district.”

They admit that they’re not “radical environmentalists;” they’re just regular old-fashioned “pragmatists” looking out for their own self-interest.   To save their own skins, they’re throwing the Oak woodlands under the bus.  Does the word hypocrisy come to mind?

I think you’ll agree the letter is very carefully worded and there can be no question of mis-using words or any unintended meaning.  Four of the “Team Leaders” for the Yes on Measure C campaign, Warren Winiarski, Beth Milliken, Randy Dunn and Joyce Sears, are signers of the letter. They have clearly relegated the lands in the Agricultural Watershed to a subservient, second class position to the Ag Preserve.

So now we know.  Measure C will protect agriculture …….. but only on the Valley floor.

Stuart Smith

Long-Time Napa Valley Vintners and Growers Enthusiastically Support Measure C

By Andy Beckstoffer, Tom Clark, Randy Dunn, Beth Novak Milliken, Joyce Black Sears, and Warren Winiarski, Wine Industry Advisor, April 26, 2018

Napa County is the wine-producing haven it is today because of forward-looking protections put in place by local leaders half a century ago. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Napa County’s Agricultural Preserve, which protects farming – including winemaking – as the highest and best use of most of the land on the Valley floorwe feel a keen responsibility to protect this way of life for future generations. That’s why we and others have come together as the Growers/Vintners for Responsible Agriculture. We are all strong and enthusiastic supporters of Napa County’s Measure C, the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative.

People who work in Napa’s wine industry today may not realize how controversial the Agricultural Preserve was when it was adopted in 1968. Landowners fretted that private property rights were being eroded and that land values would plummet. Half a century later it’s clear that those fears were unfounded. Indeed, it is largely because of the Ag Preserve that Napa’s wine industry has flourished.

Measure C was designed to ensure ongoing farming success in the Ag Preserve by ensuring that water remains available from the Agricultural Watershed zoning district. The beautiful oak-studded hillsides that surround the Napa Valley are also a critical source of our agricultural and town water supplies. Every grape grower, vintner, and citizen knows that water is an essential need in grape growing, winemaking, and the community. From our perspective, enhancing protections on these Ag Watershed lands, which recharge the reservoirs and the groundwater aquifers, is vital to ensuring the ongoing viability of the Napa Valley community and wine industry.

We are not radical environmentalists. We’re pragmatists in an era of extended drought, higher temperatures and growing competition for limited water supplies – from farming, a growing local population, and a robust tourism industry.

Napa County voters established large minimum lot sizes (40 to 160 acres) in the Ag Watershed at the ballot box decades ago. These lots sizes remain untouched in Measure C, which means that claims of extensive housing development on the hillsides that surround the Valley under this initiative are unfounded. To correct a few other misconceptions, existing vineyards in the Ag Watershed can be replanted as needed, new vineyards are allowed (approximately 5,000 acres are deemed plantable), and the oaks lost to the fires are not included in calculating the oak-removal limit.

The need to protect Napa County’s water supply from overuse is clear to many of us who grow grapes and make wine in the region. Indeed, one of the leading trade groups for wineries – Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) – invested significant time and financial resources into the drafting of the initiative language that is now known as Measure C. It’s only when a vocal sub-group of NVV members and other industry trade groups objected to the initiative that the NVV Board withdrew its support for the measure. Claims that Napa Valley farmers and vintners are united against Measure C are simply wrong.

As long-time Napa Valley residents, it’s disheartening to see Measure C’s opponents launch what can only be described as an underhanded, misleading campaign designed to confuse voters. The court forced opponents to change five statements on the ballot arguments they submitted to the county, and to pay $54,000 in legal fees, because they were objectively false and misleading. Basing an opposition campaign on lies and distortions is no way to maintain congenial, respectful relations with our neighbors.

Don’t be misled, opponents of Measure C are endangering our water supply.

Measure C will protect Napa’s water supplies now and into the future. We invite growers, winemakers and citizens alike to join us in VOTING YES ON MEASURE C.

The authors are all members of Growers/Vintners for Responsible Agriculture, a group that was formed in response to the decision by the Napa Valley Vintners to fund the opposition campaign to Napa County’s Measure C.