Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones is backpedaling after his anti-agriculture comments to a friend on Facebook went viral.
“You’re having a conversation with some in your head. Ag depends on the people. Ag strips the natural resources and contaminates our groundwater and air. Ag causes asthma and valley fever, cancer and kills bees. You can’t educate me. You’re trained. You can share with me what you’ve been trained to think. We can debate the difference between what you think and what I think.”
Erik Wilson, admin of the Facebook group My Job Depends on Ag, ended up being tagged in the post.
Wilson said he didn’t not know that he was talking to the Tulare Mayor until 24 hours after he was tagged in that post. Upon learning that, Wilson said he was taken aback that the mayor of the largest ag producing county in California and one of the largest in the nation would make those statements.
Wilson, who owns a custom agricultural spraying business, said the Mayor’s comments personally offended him and decided to share the post with his Facebook group’s 81,000 followers.
“His response, you can’t educate me, didn’t give me an opportunity to even address his claims. Why bother. I tried starting off with discussing how humans interact with agriculture and don’t really recognize that they are. For example. Taking a shower and cleansing yourself, you use products made from Ag. You dry yourself with them, you dress in them, you eat breakfast from it, on a table made from it, drive to work on car seats made from it… so on and so on. We are so lucky to be alive today and live in this country. But our affluence has allowed us to become disconnected from what it is that sustains the human being.” Wilson posted on Facebook.
Thousands of Facebook followers agreed and some even suggested Jones should resign.
“When just talking to a friend that wasn’t a problem, and just disagreeing with them wasn’t a problem. I think when I made the comment that these things can be contributed to the ag industry, whether its ground water, or contaminates in our water supply… Then it was like, ‘oh you’re the mayor. You shouldn’t be bringing these things up that affect your industry.’ I total disagree with that. You have to be able to have these conversations.”
Tulare County Farm Bureau said they have been alerted to the comments on the My Job Depends on Ag Facebook page and are deeply disturbed by the perspective voiced by the Tulare Mayor.
“As the mayor of a city located in the epicenter of agriculture his comments reflect a perspective that we would disagree with strongly. While we have work to do in educating this individual we believe his comments should not be allowed to speak for the heart and will of Tulare’s citizens, many of which are deeply rooted in agriculture and recognize the positive impact and economic vitality that agriculture provides to our county, state and nation,” the Farm Bureau posted on Facebook.
Tulare County leads the nation in dairy production. The county also ranks in the top 3 of all farm counties in the U.S. Agriculture is the largest private employer in the county with farm employment accounting for nearly a quarter of all jobs.
Not to mention, Tulare is home to the World Ag Expo every February. This year the world’s largest annual agricultural exposition celebrated its 51st anniversary and hosted 106,700 attendees representing 49 states and 63 countries.