Following up on yesterday’s post, this article from the Western Farm Press gives the perspective of organizations representing women in agriculture, an important viewpoint from on the ground.
“Judging from the varied reactions of viewers watching the 60 Minutes television segment, “California: Running Dry”, the state’s three-year-drought is more complicated than simply the weather, according to the president of a national coalition of farm and ranch women.
“If you look at comments on the CBS Web site, you can see how emotional people are,” said Chris Wilson, president of American Agri-Women. “But if people studied the facts of this case, they would see the devastating effects of the Endangered Species Act on not only rural people but Americans everywhere, not just California, because these farmers feed the world.”
“In a 2006 lawsuit environmental groups demanded that the pumps in the Delta be shut off to protect a small minnow-smelt. Protectors of the smelt claim it can be sucked into the pumps that distribute water to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“In August 2007, U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger ordered curtailing of the pumping of water that supplies the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta until a new biological opinion could be written, which it was in December 2008, resulting in more pumping restrictions. San Joaquin Valley water agencies challenged the ruling. As a result, in May 2009, Judge Wanger agreed the original restrictions on pumping needed to be revisited with the water agencies’ compelling argument that people are being harmed by unreasonable concern over the welfare of a tiny fish.
“According to one Californian, the drought was just as severe last year and farmers cut back on planting, but received from 10 percent to 30 percent of their water allocation through the Delta, depending on where their land was located. This year, because of the Delta smelt ruling, the allocation is zero percent. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been fallowed, almond trees pulled, and more than 60,000 jobs were lost.
“The Obama administration has addressed the California water crisis by releasing a coordinated interim action plan of six federal agencies with their list of actions to be coordinated with the state. But some say it is too little, too late.
“Carol Chandler, past president of California Women for Agriculture, stated, “There is a lot of rhetoric about conservation and restoration without addressing the need for water storage and temporary suspension of the Endangered Species Act.”