CAMARILLO,Calif. - Two competing Ventura County measures will be on the ballot in November. They both have to do with open space and agricultural land.
In a previous article we explained Measure C to you, it would keep the current Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources, also known as SOAR program in place through 2050. It protects open space by ensuring that citizens have the right to vote before zoned agricultural land can be rezoned for development.
Measure F is pitched as the measure to keep farmers farming. NewsChannel 3 talked to one of the measure's filers, who is a local farmer, to find out why he supports it.
Phil McGrath's family owns McGrath Farms in Camarillo. He says, his family has been farming in Ventura County for four generations.
"My family has been farming here since the 60's. I love to say that, the 1860s. My family use to be cattle ranchers and then dairy farmers, and then lima beans and sugar beets and now we are organic farmers. We have gone through a lot of transition, but the transition that is happening right now especially with the drought, it is going to be more difficult than ever to keep farming here," said McGrath.
McGrath hopes his family can continue to farm for several more generations, but he says that will only be possible if the county keeps agriculture financially viable, and between the drought, foreign competition and pests, McGrath says that is becoming harder and harder to do.
"Farmers desperately need help. And basically, yeah, the SOAR initiative was a 20 year how to save farm lands but it did nothing for farmers or farming," said McGrath.
McGrath says that is why he and other local farmers filed Measure F. It will be competing against SOAR's Measure C on the November ballot.
"SOAR has been around for 20 years but Measure F is new and improved and backed by farmers and it is about saving farmland. Measure F has more initiatives to help farmers farm, incentives for water efficiency and incentives to become more diverse at packing sheds or processing centers," said McGrath.
Measure C supporters say farmers are pushing Measure F just because they want to sell their land to developers.
"Measure F has loopholes in it that allow for thousands of acres of land to be re-zoned for development, without a vote of the people. It is their clever strategy to try to defeat SOAR," said Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett.
The choice will be yours in November. If both measures pass, the winner will be decided by which one got the most votes.
For more information, check out each group's Facebook page:
Ray Rice a supporter of SOAR, created this video to help explain SOAR VC's message: https://vimeo.com/177771812