Strengthening Kern County Industries

By Rep. David Valadao (CA-22)

Bakersfield, California, May 8, 2024
This piece was originally published in the Bakersfield Californian.

Kern County is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, and the seventh largest oil-producing county in the nation. Thanks to a little help from nature and a whole lot of hard work, Kern County quite literally feeds and fuels the nation, and much of the world.

While those of us who call the Central Valley home understand the critical role our communities play in stocking grocery shelves and filling gas tanks, most people from outside of California tend to forget that we have way more to offer than scenic coastlines and the Hollywood sign. That’s why over the years, I’ve brought several members of Congress from across the country here to the Valley, including a Farm Bill listening session at the World Ag Expo and a Natural Resources Committee field hearing in Tulare on water storage issues in California.

I’m proud to share that I’ll be bringing another congressional delegation to Bakersfield at the end of the week. The Western Caucus is a bipartisan group of more than 100 members of Congress from across the nation who advocate for policies that strengthen rural America. As a member of the Western Caucus, I’ve attended several of these field tours in other parts of the country, and they are always an educational and interactive way to learn about the issues impacting other rural areas.

When my team and I were planning this, we wanted to highlight the issues that are not only vital to Kern County, but to our national security as well. We’ll be conducting site visits, field hearings, and roundtables focused on energy production, rural broadband accessibility, agriculture production and water availability.

These are the issues I spend the most time on in Congress because they’re vital to our way of life. The goal is that these conversations between members of Congress from across the country and our local producers and industry leaders will help shape commonsense policies in Washington, D.C.

Kern County is a prime example of an all-of-the-above energy future where traditional oil and gas is supplemented by locally abundant renewable technology like natural gas, solar, geothermal, hydrogen and more. We’ll be hearing firsthand from leaders in the energy sector about the steps they’re taking to provide a safe, reliable supply of energy to Central Valley families, along with some of the challenges they face. I expect that we’ll hear about both the state and federal regulations that make it difficult to produce energy here in the U.S. and the importance of pursuing an all-of-the-above energy policy.

In addition to being a leader in domestic energy production, Kern County is consistently in the top five counties for agricultural production in the nation. Our farmers and producers have faced a lot of challenges over the last few years — from drought, rising input costs, and supply chain disruptions. Ensuring America’s food production and distribution systems are strong is critical to our economic and national security. We’ll be visiting some of the Central Valley food processors that play a critical role in the security of our nation’s food supply.

But California agriculture can’t exist without water, so I’ll be bringing these folks to visit parts of our canal system to learn about water delivery challenges and the burdensome regulations that have restricted our water supply. Without water for California farmers, we can’t grow the food that feeds the nation and much of the world.

While the communities each of us represent are different, all of us in the Western Caucus share a common goal of strengthening rural communities that have been impacted by government overreach and bureaucratic red tape. These site visits will give members the opportunity to see firsthand the outstanding industries that call Kern County home, and the importance of supporting policies that will allow us to keep these industries and the jobs they create strong for generations to come.

David Valadao is the representative for California’s 22nd Congressional District, which includes portions of Kings, Tulare and Kern counties.

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