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Stephen Birdsall, ag commissioner, air pollution control officer

February 21, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

Stephen Birdsall is the county agriculture commissioner, an office he's held for 14 years. He also serves as the county air pollution control officer.

Imperial Valley Press: Do you think it's a conflict of interest to be the agriculture commissioner and air pollution control district officer?

Stephen Birdsall: I'm one of about a dozen in the state that are agriculture commissioners and air pollution control officers.

IVP: Do you think our farmers will eventually be able to farm without burning fields?

SB: We're certainly going to strive for that. There are some needs and necessities to burn, but as technology advances, hopefully we'll discover some new way to reduce agriculture burning.

IVP: Is composting a feasible alternative?

SB: Straw can't be composted readily. I'm not denying that it can happen, but I know it's been tried with straw, and it's just not suitable for composting.


IVP: Is agriculture still the No. 1 industry in this county?

SB: As far as I know, yes.

IVP: How long will it stay dominant?

SB: Forever. As long as we continue to have water and the climate we have, I see no reason for it not being dominant.

IVP: What challenges lie ahead for agriculture in the county?

SB: Water, air pollution, worker compensation issues, labor issues, pesticide issues, regulatory issues …

IVP: Development?

SB: I can't see San Diego taking over the county, like Los Angeles has done to counties east of it. The geography and climate would inhibit it.

IVP: Since we're in the desert, should farmers look at growing drought-resistant crops?

SB: We do grow drought-resistant crops, as much as possible. Farmers grow crops because of economics, and water is part of that economy.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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