Agriculture

COMMENTARY: Protect San Benito County?

No on J campaign: To disagree is fine; to lie is cowardly

Let’s be clear: it is a lie. First, it came in the mail sent by San Benito United asserting that it would “protect San Benito County.” This is a clever appropriation of our organization’s name, Protect San Benito, and sole purpose. But not so clever really: its contents, too, were misleading. Then the phone rang. Maybe yours has too.

The young man on the other line plunged into his script: “…our county will be fundamentally changed.  The Measure J people want to ban all oil production….” I stopped him there. Wait a sec, I said.  Are you from San Benito County?  Because you just said “OUR county.”  “Well…no I’m not.” 

“In that case, let me tell you that what you are saying is a lie. Measure J is an “Initiative to Ban Well Stimulation Treatments and Enhanced Recovery (such as Fracking and Steam Injection) throughout all Unincorporated Areas of San Benito County and to Ban All Petroleum Operations in Residential General Plan Designations in Unincorporated San Benito County and Make Related Zoning Changes.”

That’s what Measure J is. It does not propose to “ban all oil production,” just that production that might take place in residential areas, you know, where homes are and children play and go to school.  To claim it does otherwise is a lie.  Though it may be repeated a million times, it will still be a lie.

The young man was sputtering as I wished him “good evening,” and, otherwise speechless, he muttered “Thanks.”  We parted, I hope, respectful. Truly, he had no idea what he was doing.  He was calling on behalf of  “San Benito United” who claims to represent “farmers, ranchers and other trusted stewards of the life we have created here in San Benito County “ who are in favor of fracking for oil in our beautiful, fragile, water stressed county. I am not so sure. 

I am a rancher. I am a steward of the life our forebears and we have created here.  And San Benito United sure as heck doesn’t represent me—or many other ranchers, farmers and other stewards I know. (Check out the farmers and ranchers who will Vote Yes on J, http://www.protectsanbenito.org/)

In fact, I am utterly disgusted with the boards of two historically very respectable organizations, the Cattlemen’s Association and the Farm Bureau, who have loaned their names to a campaign based on a lie. I am disgusted with them because they are decent people who are behaving uncharacteristically indecently. They have hitched their wagons, and by association all of the good and honest farmers and ranchers in this county who they are supposed to represent, to a group who would lie about a ballot measure with which they disagree. 

To disagree is fine, even honorable. To lie is cowardly. To lie in my name and the names of other ranchers and farmers who do business by a handshake and hold trustworthiness as sacrosanct is despicable.

What these two boards of directors need to do is, one, apologize to their members and, two, recant their lie—publicly.

Measure J bans “fracking” and other extreme technologies used to extract oil from the ground. Traditional oil drilling may go on as usual.

Keep the lights on when you read your mail, watch commercials and answer the phone. Ranchers and farmers as a group do not support fracking. Those who say they represent us should be ashamed for connecting us with a campaign based on a lie.

Vote YES on J.

Joe Morris, T.O. Cattle Co. and Morris Grassfed Beef

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