California’s farming industry got quite a shock last week when the state Water Board presented the first phase in a series of takings directed at water dedicated to the Central Valley Project.
Once again, the board wants to further increase the water that flows directly to the ocean. Phase 1 of their plan is bad enough. It will take water from communities in the south as well as hundreds of central California farms. But there are more phases to come, all to benefit the fish at the price of the people. The fate of thousands of California farmers and hundreds of California towns are in the hands of these 5 political appointees placed in their jobs by Governor Brown.
The plan was formulated by environmentalists to bring back Salmon migration. The science behind their plan is murky at best. It may not help restore salmon fisheries at all; no one really knows. And why are we doing it? Is it to maintain or Improve the fishing industry? Yes, we harvest a lot of fish here – commercial fishing brings in about $700 million a year. Farming, however, generates $47 Billion a year – about 50 times as much as fishing. Should we bolster commercial fishing at the price of farming?
The Water Board’s decision affects the entire country. California farms make up 12.5 percent of the total agricultural production for all 50 states. Our farmers cost-effectively grow safe food, with minimal use of pesticides. The entire country will lose with higher food prices, and more food imported from around the world where pesticide use is not nearly as well controlled and safe handling techniques may not exist.
Assembly member Adam Gray, from Merced, released a statement condemning the State Water Board’s decision. He said it “is the first shot fired in the next chapter of California’s water wars.” Gray said, “This is what theft looks like. A small group of special interests have spent years plotting one of the largest water takings in our state’s history. . …no amount of trickery can obscure the truth – their fish first philosophy will decimate our region, poison our drinking water, and provide no environmental benefit what-so-ever.”
We’re on the path to a major environmental disaster, with farms shut down and cities on drastic water rationing for no good reason. This is a bad plan that needs to be derailed.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West and Citrus Industry Magazine. Visit us on the web at www.citrusindustry.net.