Application period begins Sept. 6 for phase 1 of the Ag Pass program
By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Horses at a Clydesdale farm near Boulevard during Shockey Fire in 2012
September 1, 2022 (San Diego) -- Tragic stories have emerged during past local wildfires of livestock that perished not from flames, but from lack of food, water, or medical care. Farmers may lose crops due to lack of irrigation. That’s led some farmers and ranchers to risk their lives and not evacuate, knowing that they would not be allowed back in to care for their animals or crops.
That’s about to change. On Tuesday, County supervisors voted to approve issuing an agricultural pass (Ag Pass) that will allow a farmer or rancher limited access to their land in evacuated areas during emergencies in order to care for livestock or crops during emergencies, once emergency responders deem conditions safe.
The program comes too late for those evacuated from the #Border32Fire currently threatening Potrero, Tecate and Dulzura. Overnight, some residents posted frantic messages on social media seeking help for animals trapped inside the evacuation area, after volunteers with horses trailers were denied access. The new program would not help volunteers, but would allow commercial ranchers and farmers or their managers who undergo safety training to be allowed limited access in future emergencies.
The plan was proposed by East County Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond.