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Sonoma County supervisors order report into ‘factory farming’ ballot measure - The Press Democrat

The report will cover the measure’s potential fiscal impacts, as well as potential impacts on a broad array of topics including land use, agriculture and the county’s general plan.

 



EMMA MURPHY

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

April 16, 2024, 5:43PM Updated 10 minutes ago

 

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has ordered a report on the impacts of a controversial ballot measure seeking to outlaw the county’s largest livestock and poultry farms.

 

The report will cover the measure’s potential fiscal impacts, as well as potential impacts on land use, agriculture and the county’s general plan.

 

The request came after the county Registrar of Voters Office determined last month the petitioners behind the proposal had collected enough signatures to qualify for the local ballot.

 

“There’s a lot of work to be done in a short period of time. We do appreciate everyone putting their nose to the grindstone,” said Supervisor David Rabbitt, the board chair. “I want every department that could identify an impact to report that impact.”

 

The measure is backed by the Coalition to End Factory Farming, which includes animal advocacy, environmental and social justice organizations including Compassionate Bay and Farm Animal Climate and Environmental Stewards of Sonoma County.

 

Their aim is to do away with large livestock and poultry farms known as “concentrated animal feeding operations,” or CAFOs.

 

But farming industry representatives said the measure poses an existential threat and could spell an end to many family-owned businesses in the area.

 

The measure is poised to launch one of the most high-profile bouts over a Sonoma County ballot measure in many years as supporters, farmers and agriculture industry advocates clash in what is likely to be a costly campaign.

 

The board’s request for a report Tuesday, delayed the measure being placed on the ballot. However, the report will return to the board on May 14, when supervisors may take a position on the measure.

 

“Regardless of what one’s perspective is, it’s a very complex measure,” Supervisor Lynda Hopkins said, adding that further information “would be very important for the public discourse.”

 

Hopkins, Rabbitt and Supervisor James Gore all said they had concerns about the measure’s economic impacts and its fallout on local farms and ranches. Rabbitt, in an interview last month, touched on those concerns and the number of jobs that could be affected.

 

Gore on Tuesday made plain his opposition.

 

“This is really ideology masked as environmentalism and to me that’s disingenuous,” Gore said.

 

Supervisor Susan Gorin said she was “anxious” to read the report. “I’m one the of the board members that may not have a firm opinion yet.”

 

You can reach Staff Writer Emma Murphy at 707-521-5228 or emma.murphy@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MurphReports.

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