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

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 entitled, “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.

There seem to be a number of people in California who think that agriculture besmirches the environment. Somehow, they want to restore California to a pristine state, as though that could ever happen given the urban development there.

At World Ag Expo, I also 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”…… California elected officials, not so much.