Santa Paula Times

Commissioner Earl McPhail addresses ag issues for chamber gathering

January 26, 2000
Santa Paula News
“It’s been an interesting year for the office,” dead panned Earl McPhail, Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner, who addressed the Good Morning Santa Paula! meeting. McPhail spoke at the Jan. 11 chamber sponsored event held at Logsdon’s at the Santa Paula Airport.McPhail joked that he moved to Santa Paula 21 years ago, “for some, 20 years too long,” when he took over the county’s top ag post. “When I first came here things were a little different,” including a subsequent doubling of the population and changes in attitude towards agriculture.McPhail said last year was full of challenges, from some critics taking aim at agriculture in general and him in particular, especially over the issue of pesticides. “We can’t act on hearsay but on facts and evidence,” he noted. “And I assure you people are safe out there when it comes to the use of pesticides.”Ventura County “seems to be on the cutting edge of every issue,” McPhail said, including having a strong - and very early - integrated pest management program started in Fillmore in 1927.Although land has been gobbled up by development over the years, agriculture is just as strong as always, even considering the blips in the industry. Lemons are still king of county crops and avocados - both staples of Santa Clara River Valley growers - remain strong, but strawberries are gaining in production and value that could eventually topple lemons.
Ventura County has the “legacy of doing things right; God blessed us with a great climate and soils, and you can’t buy, create or import that. The county will continue to grow,” affording the next generation an opportunity to continue to live in the area, McPhail noted. But there is also a need to learn how to live closer to one another with the implementation of such measures as SOAR, he added.The United States has been responsible in its population growth, but other countries continue to grow: “We feed the world. . .we’re very lucky in the U.S. where about 10 to 12 percent of our disposal income is used for food; in other countries 75 percent of their disposal income is spent on food. . .we have a responsibility to those who come after us to leave enough ground,” for agriculture.On the issue of farm worker housing, McPhail said Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru and Oxnard have “done their parts” while others ignore the issue of low-income housing. “They are our workers and have the same wants and desires we do and they should have the same opportunities,” he noted.McPhail concluded by complimenting the GMSP! crowd: “You all are to be congratulated for your strong interest in the community and county.”