During World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., last week, I had a chance to visit with a friend who lives in central California area and is very familiar with what’s going on in agriculture there.

Since he is in his mid-60s, I asked where he plans to live once he retires. It turns out he would like to get out of California because of the attitudes there, including a desire by many to get rid of agriculture.

His remark jived with what I had heard a few days earlier while visiting a 700-cow dairy near Visalia, Calif., where the owner commented about the excessive regulation he faces from state officials.

I am left wondering why…..  Why would anyone want to get rid of an economic engine that generates billions of dollars for the state’s economy?

According to a study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center titled, “Agriculture’s Role in the Economy,” the combined agricultural production and processing industry in California directly accounted for $97.7 billion of the state sales output in 2002. Overall, including ripple effects, agricultural production and processing generated 7.3 percent of all jobs, 5.6 percent of all labor income, and 6.5 percent ($90.2 billion) of labor and property income and indirect business taxes in the state.

Yet, there are those who think agriculture besmirches the environment. Somehow, they want to restore California to a pristine state, as though that would be possible given all of the urban development there.

Also at World Ag Expo, I had the opportunity to interview the governor of South Dakota who was trying to recruit dairies to his state.

I think the South Dakota people “get it.”