The following article was written by the Peace & Harmony Foundation of Mendocino and republished with their permission
In Mendocino, wine grapes use 16,733 acres, industrial timber corporations use about 500,000 acres. Even with the extreme contrast of land use in grapes and timber, they’re each earning the same amount of revenue per year, which is about one hundred and thirty million dollars. Estimates from cannabis revenue in the county are said to be in the billions of dollars, and cannabis is likely to encompass a similar acreage and land footprint as grapes.
We could re-wild hundreds of thousands of acres of land by reducing cattle ranching and timber exploits, and instead allow for a comparatively smaller portion of cannabis and industrial hemp to be planted in its place.
Cannabis has the highest producing crop value in Mendocino County. Cannabis and Hemp are the most valuable cash crops, worldwide. Cannabis crops produce the lowest carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, and comparatively are the lowest overall polluting of any agriculture commodity.
Research suggests that organic-plant-based agriculture systems can eliminate all environmental harms from fertilizer and agro-chemical use. An example of a plant-based agriculture application used for food farming, comes via a recent article by Sentient Media: “One acre of cover crops grown for one year are equal to 12 tons of poultry manure.” [https://sentientmedia.org/farming-for-the-planet/]
The animal agriculture industry, including livestock and pastureland for feed crops uses up the most land in Mendocino County, (including on public lands). As an agriculture commodity — the meat and dairy industry is the single most polluting and has the highest greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and that’s especially true for Mendocino County, the State of California, and the entire North Coast region. At least ten million pounds of untreated fecal waste is produced daily, in the combined regions of Mendocino, Humboldt, and Sonoma Counties, via the meat and dairy industry.
A recent report by Pacific Sun Newspaper revealed that, in Marin County 10,254 dairy cows and beef cattle in the Point Reyes coastal watershed produce 1,066,574 pounds of manure per day, and cause 48,000 tons of silt to erode into the waterways every year. [https://pacificsun.com/apocalypse-cow-the-future-of-life…/]
According to the Center for Biological Diversity and studies by UC Davis, livestock are responsible for 54 percent of methane emissions in California — most of that methane comes from dairy ranching. For instance, in Tulare County, California — industrial cattle produce approximately 63 percent of the County’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock produce massive quantities of manure-sourced pollution. Waste run off into streams and waterways causes soil degradation and ground water contamination, in almost every instance of prolonged animal containment. Untreated animal waste run off can contain heavy metals, antibiotics, herbicides, insecticides, cryptosporidium, fecal coliform, E. coli and over forty different diseases that can be spread to humans. [https://biologicaldiversity.org/…/californias-tulare…/]
As we’re considering future regulatory procedures for agriculture land use in Mendocino County, we should first evaluate these determining, comparative environmental factors. In short, we need to increase cannabis and industrial hemp production, and decrease cattle grazing for a healthier environment.
Mendocino County Agriculture Land Use and Revenue:
- Grapes —
- Value: $137,952,282 total
- Acres: 16,733 total
- Timber —
- Value: $132,516,260 total
- Acres: 500,000 (estimated) total
- Livestock/Pasture —
- Value: $18,278,510 total
- Acres: 721,500 total