The Nevada Recovers Listening Tour made a stop in Fallon this month with state Treasurer Zach Conine outlining a plan to three diverse groups for the state to spend billions of dollars to improve the quality of life in the Silver State.
The 75-day listening tour, which kicked off Aug. 3, aims to stop at every community across the state to receive input on how Nevada can use and invest more than $6.7 billion from the American Rescue Plan act.
Conine spoke at the Aug. 11 breakfast meeting of the Churchill Entrepreneur Development Association business council, then to food producers gathered at Lattin Farms, followed by members of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe in the afternoon.
“Over the last year and a half, we have all faced different challenges,” he said. “There are different challenges in Fallon than Las Vegas, Winnemucca or Wendover.”
Gov. Steve Sisolak and Conine are emphasizing that they need input to see how the money will fund specific programs. Conine emphasized a number of times that the Nevada Legislature will have final say when approving requests.
“We need to identify problems and look for solutions,” he said. “We need ideas.”
After the 75-day tour ends, Conine said the governor’s team will place the requests in a “bucket” divided into ideas such as K-12 education, food and business. From there, he said the ideas will be folded into a plan.
Conine said it’s important bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way of progress but added the state will have more money from to fix its problems because of the ARP.
“It’s an effort for the government to be helpful and not for the government to be government,” he said. “We also need to coordinate as not to duplicate efforts.”
The first-term treasurer said he needs the public’s help by taking a survey to assess need. The website is nevadarecovers.com.
While Conine spent part of the morning with CEDA and the afternoon with FPST, he sat down with the area’s food producers at Lattin Farms for almost 90 minutes to discuss the ARP and listen to their concerns.
The session was organized by Kelli Kelly, director of the Fallon Food Hub, and included food producers from three groups: young farmers, farmers who grow food for people and people who work at the intersection of agriculture and food security. Bobby Fagundes spoke first, saying he has concerns about water and water security. He said a more efficient system of delivering water to the area’s farmers and ranchers should be built. He believes about 35-40% of the valley’s water is disappearing.
Several other food producers have a concern with food security. They said small communities benefit from locally grown food. On the other hand, a cattle producer in Churchill County said he has problems in hiring reliable workers.
“We need to get someone reliable enough to show up on a consistent basis,” Joe Sanford said.
Sanford said every industry in agriculture is facing the same problem. Animals need feeding and watering every day. A few attendees shook their heads in agreement.
“The issue is getting people who want to go to work,” he said.
Adrian Alanis, whose been with Lattin Farms for almost 30 years, said working in agriculture is hard work. Don Keele, who also works for Lattin Farms, said Alanis and his family are both reliable and invaluable to the producer’s operations.
“If Adrian walked out the door, I don’t know what we’d do,” Keele said.
Others point to Nevada’s boom which is taking workers away from the fields.
“Why work on a farm in the hot sun?” Fagundes said.
Others in attendance also pointed to a lack of affordable housing. Kelly also discussed the need for more food grants. Ted Christoph of Liberty Jersey Farms said there’s a funding issue, pointing out that even a million dollars doesn’t go far and regulations tend to slow the process.
“We need to invest in some technologies that will be more helpful,” he said.
Conine once again encouraged the attendees to take the survey and encouraged others to do so. Once the ideas are tallied and eventually approved by lawmakers, he said the money must be spent by 2026.
“We have a chance to fix things that are broken,” he said.
Among the ideas expressed by Kelli on the Fallon Food Hub site include the following: “Include suggestions for agricultural projects in your feedback (some ideas include: food hub facilities for support of Nevada farmers for post-harvest handling, aggregation, and distribution of produce and products; more USDA meat processing infrastructure; prioritizing water for agriculture and improving infrastructure on water delivery; improving agricultural education including a curriculum-based accredited program at UNR; (and) access to capital for young farmers to acquire land for farming).”
Several other food producers addressed the group, one who was philosophical about the role agriculture plays.
“There should never be a farmer who is struggling,” said the attendee. “No one is this country should be hungry.”