San Luis Obispo County Agriculture News
April 30, 2021
As Drought Outlook Worsens in SLO County and Across California, State Senate Proposes $3.4 Billion Drought Package
Despite dire economic forecasts from the pandemic, California state coffers are flush with cash, and State Senate leaders on Thursday put forth a massive $3.4 billion spending package to help prepare California for the impending impact of a drought that is spreading across San Luis Obispo County and the rest of California.

Low rainfall has already impacted dry-land grain farmers in North County, as seen above in a non-irrigated barley field off of Bitterwater Road in Carrisa Plains. All of San Luis Obispo County is in the D1 (Moderate Drought) stage, and 74 percent of the county is in D2 (Severe Drought) as of April 20. While Governor Newsom has not made a drought declaration for San Luis Obispo County, our county was included in a federal drought declaration by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on March 5. 

Farmers and ranchers can find assistance resources here and review the U.S. Drought Monitor here. A key metric in determining current drought conditions are the capacity levels in San Luis Obispo County's four reservoirs, Lopez Dam, Nacimento and San Antonio Reservoirs, Whale Rock Reservoir, and Salinas Reservoir (Santa Margarita Lake).

How do current conditions compare to recent droughts? Click here for a 2014 SLO County Public Works Department presentation on local water supply status and drought levels. While we are not as bad today as we were then, the longterm outlook shows drought conditions will persist. SLO County Farm Bureau will continue to coordinate drought resources for local farmers and ranchers in coming weeks. As firsthand impacts are important to policymakers, please contact our office to report any impacts like wells going dry or fallowing of fields due to drought.
This Week in SLO County Agriculture
In This Issue:
  • COVID-19 News: The Tribune - SLO County is Moving into Orange Tier. Here's Everything that can Reopen or Expand;
  • Federal Government News: Morning Ag Clips - Conservation Advances Must do no Harm;
  • State Government News: Hastings Tribune - California Recall has Enough Signatures to Make Ballot;
  • County Government News: Supervisors Meet April 20;
  • Business Member Spotlight: Umpqua Bank;
  • Labor News: New Times SLO - Labor Contractors, Advocacy Organizations agree that the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is the Right Step Forward - Now it Needs to Pass the Senate;
  • Wildfire News: New Times SLO - California's Wildfire Service Season has Lengthened;
  • Vineyard & Winery News: Paso Robles Wine Festival Returns May 20-23
  • Livestock News: Perishable News - California Beef Council's 2021 Beef Leadership Summit Goes Virtual
  • Produce News: Food Safety News - LGMA's York Wants to Bring Pre-Harvest Testing to Leafy Greens in California;
  • Water News: New Times SLO - Shandon-San Juan Water District Applies for Nacimiento and Santa Margarita Lake Water;
  • Environmental News: Viewpoint: ‘The Dirty 8’ — Which are the Most Notorious Advocacy Groups Spreading Disinformation About Food, Farming, Biotechnology and Agricultural Sustainability
  • Agronomics: Pest Management Update from UC Extension;
  • Wisdom From the Farm & Ranch
Do you like this newsletter? How can we make it better for you? Please let us know!
SLO County Farm Bureau staff put a lot of time in this newsletter each week, and we always want to make it better! Any feedback - what you like and don't like - is much appreciated! Send an email to with your suggestions, questions or ideas. Also, we are always looking for contributing writers or content, so please send us story requests, blog posts or photos our way!
COVID-19 News: The Tribune - SLO County is Moving Into Orange Tier. Here's Everything that Can Reopen or Expand
County resumes administration of Johnson and Johnson vaccine

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health department will resume administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine locally, in accordance with guidance from the California Department of Public Health. "The health and safety of our community is...

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SLO County is moving into orange tier. Here's everything ...

On Wednesday, San Luis Obispo County makes the jump to the orange tier of the state's coronavirus reopening plan. That's good news for restaurants, retail stores and other businesses, which will once again be able to increase their indoor...

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Federal Government News: Morning Ag Clips - Conservation Advances Must do no Harm
Federal Spending on Food Assistance Reached Record High of $122.1 Billion in 2020

Spending on USDA's Food and nutrition assitance programs jumped 30 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2020 to an inflation-adjusted record of $122.1 billion, abruptly reversing a six-year decline. This increase reflects the expanded need for food assistance during...
Conservation advances must do no harm

The American Farm Bureau Federation calls on the administration to act responsibly in conservation efforts. Specifically, President Biden's goal to conserve at least 30% of our lands and waters by 2030, commonly referred ...

Read more
State Government News: Hastings Tribune - California Recall has Enough Signatures to Make Ballot
California recall has enough signatures to make ballot

Organizers of the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, state election officials said Monday, likely triggering just the second such election in...

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County Government News: Supervisors Meet April 20
SLO County Board of Supervisors Meets May 4
Agenda Items of Interest to Agriculture:
  • Item 11: Submittal of resolutions approving five new Land Conservation Contracts (Numbers 1-5) and one Open Space Easement Agreement (Number 6): 1. Halter Ranch...1.1 mile northeast of the intersection of Adelaida Road and Vineyard Drive; and 6. Grolle Family Trust (CON2020-00016) - approximately 2,000 feet northwest of the intersection of Santa Rosa Creek Road and Highway 46; exempt from CEQA. Districts 1 and 2. Read more here.
  • Item 13: Request to authorize the Chair of the Board of Supervisors to sign and send a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board opposing two applications to appropriate water that were submitted by the Shandon-San Juan Water District. Districts 1, 2, 3 and 5. Read more here,
  • Item 25: Submittal of a report on elections and voting systems in San Luis Obispo County, and request to provide direction to staff regarding which election model to use for future elections. All Districts. Read more here.
  • Item 27: Request to 1) receive and file an update on initiatives to address regional homeless needs and provide staff direction as necessary; 2) support implementation of the adaptive Framework for Regional Homeless Action Plan and Multiyear Efforts proposed for FY 2021-22 and FY 2022-23; and 3) direct staff to return with a budget adjustment request to implement said Framework. All Districts. Read more here.

To access the full agenda documents and watch the meeting click here.
SLO County Ag Commissioner Issues Guidance on Bird Frightening Devices Within Commercial Vineyards
Note that standards for vegetables and other crops are different than grapes.
May Ag Liaison Advisory Board Meeting Cancelled Due to Lack of Timely Agenda Items

Click here for more info.
Business Member Spotlight:
Umpqua Bank
A bank run by people, not money.

You, your life, your money management style—all things that are more important to us than the size of your balance. We pair financial expertise with a passion for getting to know you as an individual—and it’s not just because we’re looking for new gym buddies. We’re on a mission to help you manage your money in a way that matches how you live your life. To do that, we’re committed to learning more about you than your account number.

That’s why we take the time to understand how banking fits into your bigger picture, and give you the easy access and mobile tools you need to manage your money on your own terms. It’s why our stores feel more like a living room than a bank branch. And why our associates will always remember your name. We’ve grown beyond our roots as a small community bank, but the spirit of community will always be at the center of everything we do.
624 S Main Street Suite 101-B | Templeton, CA 93465
(805) 400-6031
Monday - Friday 9:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.
Thank You Farm Bureau Members
New Agricultural Member
Todd Rinkenberger
Renewing Business Support Member
Renewing Members
Hawks Hill Ranch, Twisselman Grain & Cattle, Morro Creek Ranch, Mike Mooney of Chateau Margene Winery, Brooks Construction Inc.
Labor News: New Times SLO - Labor Contractors, Advocacy Organizations Agree That the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is the Right Step Forward - Now it Needs to Pass the Senate
FELS COVID-19 News & Resources for Farm Employers.

  • DIR Guidance: COVID Sick Pay Can Be Used for ETS Exclusion Pay: The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has updated its Frequently Asked Questions webpage to clarify that employers can require the use of COVID-19 paid sick leave established by SB 95 (see “Retroactive COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave,” below) prior to having to maintain wages for employees excluded as required under the Cal/OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS); the FAQ: “Can an employer require that an employee use 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave then they have excluded an employee for workplace exposure to COVID-19? Yes. When an employee is excluded by an employer and entitled to exclusion pay (Exclusion Pay FAQ link), an employer may require use of 2021 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave before providing exclusion pay.” It’s worth noting that DIR’s guidance reflects a provision of SB 95 that specifies that an employer may require an employee eligible for Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to use that leave if that employee must be excluded due to COVID-19 exposure or illness before providing exclusion pay. (April 23, 2021) 
  • Fed OSHA Issues Guidance on Recordability of Illness Resulting from Vaccine Reactions: The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration has issued guidance that an employer need not record an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine on it’s injury and illness logs.  According to new FAQ responses, such a reaction may be recordable if it is work-related because the employer mandated the vaccine, and may even be recordable is the employer recommended the vaccine depending on the circumstances. (April 23, 2021) 
  • Gov. Signs Limited Right-to-Recall Bill: On April 19, Governor Newsom signed SB 93, a right-to-recall bill similar to a bill (AB 3216, Kalra) he vetoed in 2020. SB 93 was moved as an “early action” preliminary budget bill, reflecting a concerning habit of the California Legislature to make major policy changes on legislative vehicles intended to make “adjustments” to the state’s budget that do not move through the normal legislative processes including policy and fiscal committee consideration.  From being proposed as a right-to-recall bill by a “gut-and-amend” process on April 8 to final passage, eleven calendar days elapsed, hardly the stuff of “government in the sunshine.” Those issues aside, much of the media coverage of SB 93 could leave listeners and readers with an erroneous impression: that SB 93 applies to all employers and all employees. This is not the case. SB 93’s right-to-recall mandate is limited to employees of employers in the hospitality and building services industries (janitorial and maintenance), and requires those employers to recall employees laid off after January 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order of seniority if those employees had been employed by that employer for six months in the prior year. It requires employers to give recalled employees five business days to decide whether to exercise their recall rights and requires employers to create and maintain records to demonstrate compliance. You can read a summary of SB 93 on the Littler firm’s Insight“California Adopts State “Right to Recall” for Certain Industries.”  (April 20, 2021) 
Read more at COVID-19 News & Resources for Farm Employers at FELS' website
Labor contractors, advocacy organizations agree that the ...

...Pretty much everyone in California agriculture supports the bill, including San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett. "We cannot control the weather, or market prices, but we do have the ability to stabilize our...

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Must DIR Standard be Followed Post Vaccination? 
From California Farm Labor Contractors Association | April 26, 2021 
  • Q: Once an employee is vaccinated, must the ETS still be followed for vaccinated persons? 
  • A: Per the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards, "For now, all prevention measures must continue to be implemented. The impact of vaccines will likely be addressed in a future revision to the ETS." Refer to the DIR FAQ here
The Standard indicates that even with increasing numbers of vaccinated workers, it is imperative that business owners and supervisors NOT remove safeguards to protect workers and continue to comply with current regulations. A CFLCA member recently reported that one of his fully vaccinated workers developed COVID symptoms then tested positive for the virus. This worker exemplifies what can happen (to a small percentage of individuals) despite being fully vaccinated. 
Wildfire News: New Times SLO - California's Wildfire Season Has Lengthened
World's largest firefighting plane grounded as the West...

Amid a drought in the West and warnings of another potentially destructive wildfire season ahead, the owners of the world's largest firefighting air tanker have grounded the massive aircraft, saying it's just not turning a profit.

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California's wildfire season has lengthened

California's wildfire problem, fueled by a concurrence of climate change and a heightened risk of human-caused ignitions in once uninhabited areas, has been getting worse with each passing year of the 21st century...

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Cattle grazing and prescribed burns can help California...

For all the misery that 2020 wrought in California, it also presented the state with a precious opportunity - a chance to seriously invest in wildfire prevention. Gov. Gavin Newsom, in his January budget proposal, wisely laid out a framework for...

Read more
Vineyard & Winery News: Paso Robles Wine Festival Returns May 20-23
Straight Out Of Paso pays homage to everything the area...

On just about every single business trip to wine events across the country, Edgar Torres hears himself explain to yet another person that California wines aren't just made in the region that first made the state famous for wines.

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New tool helps farmers monitor crop risk during wildfire ...

Ahead of what could be another severe wildlife season, a new tool uses air quality and atmospheric data to give farmers up-to-the-minute information to monitor risks to their crops. The chemical and crop solutions company UPL and the ag tech firm ...

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Paso Robles Wine Festival Weekend Returns with Focus on...

With No Grand Tasting, Wineries Stepping Up Small Scale Events April 29th - The 38th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival is less than one month away! This annual festival which celebrates everything Paso Robles wine is set for May 20-23, 2021. This...

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Livestock News: Perishable News - California Beef Council's 2021 Beef Leadership Summit Goes Virtual
California Beef Council's 2021 Beef Leadership Summit...

The FREE Webinar Series will give retail and foodservice professionals an in-depth look into beef-specific consumer and supply chain insights, beef's role in the new dietary guidelines and nutritional importance...

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Horse sanctuary comes to former Paso Robles pistachio...

A nonprofit horse rescue moved its first equine residents from a Monterey County sanctuary to a new property in Paso Robles this month. Founded in Carmel nearly 30 years ago, Redwings Horse Sanctuary provides care to "abused, abandoned and...

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CattleCal podcast launched for cattle ranchers

Cattle ranchers have a new source for cattle research news from UC Cooperative Extension. CattleCal podcast is produced by Pedro Carvalho, UC Cooperative Extension feedlot management specialist; Brooke Latack, UC...

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Produce News: Food Safety News - LGMA's York Wants to Bring Pre-Harvest Testing to Leafy Greens in California
Grower Liaison Positions Across the State Now Accepting Proposals

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is currently accepting proposals for eight contractors to serve as grower liaisons for several regions or counties throughout the state. As an integral partner in the fight against Huanglongbing (HLB) and the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), responsibilities of grower liaisons may include conducting outreach directly...
LGMA's York wants to bring pre-harvest testing to leafy...

Analysis: Tim York is "passionately focused on food safety," according to his biography from the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA). And, maybe that's true. For anyone passionate about food safety, it inevitably means preaching the...

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GreenSheet Alert: Complete CAC's Grower Crop Estimate...

The California Avocado Commission's annual grower crop survey plays a critical role in helping the Commission ascertain and address the challenges growers face and to accurately predict the flow of avocados to market. By completing the survey,...

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Water News: New Times SLO - Shandon-San Juan Water District Applies for Nacimiento and Santa Margarita Lake Water
Arroyo Grande Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan 
***REMINDER: Draft Chapters 1 & 2 Posted for Public Comment*** 
The Arroyo Grande Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Draft Chapters 1 and 2 have been posted online and are available for review. The public comment period for these chapters opened on March 12, 2021 and will close on April 30, 2021
Please visit the Arroyo Grande Subbasin GSP development website to view/download the draft chapters and submit your comments using the online comment form. All submitted public comments will be posted online for review. 
For more information on the Arroyo Grande Subbasin, please visit:
Shandon-San Juan Water District applies for Nacimiento...

A North County water district representing irrigated agriculture near Shandon is asking the state for allocations of Lake Nacimiento and Santa Margarita Lake water, which it proposes to pipe into the nearby Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. While...

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Los Osos Basin Management Committee Draft Annual Report Released

The Draft Los Osos Basin Plan Groundwater Monitoring Program 2020 Annual Monitoring Report (“Draft 2020 Annual Report”) is available for review and comment. The Draft 2020 Annual Report describes activities related to the Los Osos Basin Plan, groundwater monitoring program, and the results and interpretations of these findings. The report was prepared by Cleath-Harris Geologists for the Los Osos Basin Management Committee. The deadline to submit comments on the Draft 2020 Annual Report is May 19, 2021. The May 19th Basin Management Committee meeting agenda will include a summary presentation and discussion of the Draft 2020 Annual Report.

Click here to view the Draft 2020 Annual Report

Comments on the Draft 2020 Annual Report can be submitted via email to or via mail by sending them to:
Attn: Dan Heimel (Basin Management Committee)
2122 9th St., Suite 110, Los Osos, CA 93402

For more information, please visit the County of San Luis Obispo's Basin Management Committee web page by clicking here.
Fire season already? 85% of CA is in severe, extreme, or ...

The rain system that came through California this past weekend has moved through -- and didn't leave much on the ground. Experts say a majority of California is dealing with drought conditions, and they continue to worsen.

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Questions Raised by Targeted Drought Declaration

There has been some criticism for how Governor Gavin Newsom has approached the state's water situation, issuing a targeted drought declaration. Many areas of California are also experiencing...

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As drought hits California, long-term issues loom |...

By the time this column is published, Northern California may be receiving some much-needed rain, and possibly some snow. However, late-season precipitation does not change the reality...

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SLO Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Commission Public Meeting is May 5th

The public is invited to join the next virtual Groundwater Sustainability Commission (GSC) meeting on May 5, 2021 from 3:00pm-5:00pm via Zoom. GSC meetings are a great opportunity for interested parties to receive updates on the development of the SLO Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), to ask questions, and/or to share public comment. The GSC Meeting will include:
  • A summary of Chapter 8: Sustainable Management Criteria which will be released for public comment following the GSC meeting
  • A presentation of the proposed projects and management actions
  • A presentation introducing the elements of the Implementation Plan to bring the SLO Basin to sustainability by 2042 
Register for the meeting here.
Tracking Nitrate in Farm Fields

Newswise - April 28, 2021 - For years it's been relatively easy to measure pollution from, say, a factory. At a factory, there might be just one pipe of waste to measure. Easy enough. But what about a farm? We might not typically think of farms...

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  • Thursday, May 6, 13, 20, 27, and June 3 (15 hours)
  • 9:00am – 12:00pm PDT (GMT -07:00) and Q&A 12:00pm - 1:00pm PDT

Understanding groundwater and watersheds and how we monitor, assess, and sustainably manage these resources is critical and integral to California Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) and other water management programs. Private citizens, professionals, decision makers, executives, agency employees, and stakeholders with diverse backgrounds and in a wide variety of private, non-profit, and government responsibilities are increasingly engaged in the sustainable management and assessment of groundwater and surface water. This online short course will review the fundamental principles of groundwater and watershed hydrology, water budgets, water quality, and water law and regulation in an intuitive, highly accessible fashion. Through real world examples, participants learn about the most common tools for measuring, monitoring, and assessing groundwater and surface water resources. We then review the key steps and elements of planning for groundwater sustainability.
Environmental News: Viewpoint: ‘The Dirty 8’ — Which are the Most Notorious Advocacy Groups Spreading Disinformation About Food, Farming, Biotechnology and Agricultural Sustainability
California could ban sale of gas-powered leaf blowers...

California would ban the sale of new gas-powered leaf-blowers, lawnmowers and other "small off-road engines" as soon as 2024, under a bill being considered by state lawmakers. If approved, the ban would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, or as soon...

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ELECTRIC VEHICLES: 20% of Californians want to ditch...

Nearly one-fifth of California drivers who bought electric vehicles were dissatisfied and sought out a more-polluting model for their next car, according to a new study.

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Viewpoint: 'The Dirty 8' - Which are the most notorious...

When it comes to food safety, there's no shortage of well-funded advocacy groups stirring up public concern. Under the guise of promoting industry transparency or protecting the environment, these organizations continually spread falsehoods about ...

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Agronomics: Pest Management Updates from UC Extension
Pest Management Updates from UC Extension 
April 26, 2021 from Dr. Surendra Dara, Cooperative Extension Advisor-Entomology & Biologicals, UC Extension 
1. Western flower thrips management in lettuce: The western flower thrips (WFT) and the viral diseases it transmits have been a problem in lettuce in the recent past.  Guidelines for managing WFT are available here.
2. Fungal and bacterial endophytes against plant-parasitic nematodes: I recently co-authored a review article on the potential of fungal and bacterial endophytes as microbial control agents of plant-parasitic nematodes. It has been known that enriching soil with organic matter and beneficial microorganisms increases the resilience of the cropping system. Our review focuses on endophytes for plant-parasitic nematode suppression. You can access the full-text of the article here or download the PDF here.
3. AgNet West podcasts: You can listen to my recent podcasts about mating disruption for diamondback moth control and seaweed.  
4. The new IPM model: I am happy to share that my new IPM model published in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management two years ago on 29 April 2019 continues to be the most read article of this journal with more than 27,000 views or downloads. I would like to thank those of you who supported my research and extension program that enabled me to design this model. 
Dr. Dara can be reached at 805-720-1700 or  For more info, access eJournals here or visit 
Advertise with SLO County Farm Bureau
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Our weekly E-News is sent out every Friday to our membership. If you're interested in an effective, low-cost advertising campaign ($150 a month) please give us a call or send an email to SLO County Farm Bureau Executive Director Brent Burchett.
Wisdom From the Farm & Ranch
Why I Love America - John Mitchum 1973

You ask me Why I Love Her?
 Well, give me time. I'll explain.
Have you seen a Kansas sunset
 Or an Arizona rain?

Have you drifted on a bayou
Down Louisiana way?
Have you watched a cold fog drifting
Over San Francisco Bay?

Have you heard a bobwhite calling
In the Carolina pines,
Or heard the bellow of a diesel
 At the Appalachia mines?

Does the call of Niagara thrill you
When you hear her waters roar?
Do you look with awe and wonder
 At her Massachusetts shore...

Where men who braved a hard new world
First stepped on Plymouth's rock?
And, do you think of them when you stroll
 Along a New York City dock?

Have you seen a snowflake drifting
 In the Rockies, way up high?
Have you seen the sun come blazing down
 From a bright Nevada sky?

Do you hail to the Columbia
As she rushes to the sea?
Or bow your head at Gettysburg
 At our struggle to be free?

Have you seen the mighty Tetons?
Have you watched an eagle soar?
Have you seen the Mississippi
Roll along Missouri's shore?

Have you felt a chill at Michigan
 When on a winter's day
Her waters rage along the shore
 In thunderous display?

Does the word "Aloha" make you warm?
Do you stare in disbelief
When you see the surf
 Come roaring in at Waimea Reef?

From Alaska's cold to the Everglades,
From the Rio Grande to Maine,
My heart cries out, my pulse runs fast
At the might of her domain!

You ask me why I love her?
I've a million reasons why ---
My Beautiful America,
Beneath God's wide, wide sky.
Farm Bureau Membership Matters
We cannot support your freedom to farm and ranch without your membership.

Join SLO County Farm Bureau now or renew your membership online. Go to to join, or download the membership form PDF. Have your renewal notice available to speed up the process; you will need to enter your membership number, name and ZIP code. Renewal dues may be paid online or over the phone by credit card.

We're here to help! Call us if you need some assistance with membership, at 805-543-3654. All California county Farm Bureau memberships are processed through the California Farm Bureau Federation, but please reach out to our SLO County office if you need your membership number or have questions.
Thank You San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau
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