Endangered Species Act: ‘Biggest threat to the Central Valley of California’


The drought of 2014 will affect more than farmers in California’s Central Valley; it will also have an impact on the local communities far beyond the drop in farmgate receipts from not planting or harvesting crops.

Civic and government officials speaking at the World Ag Expo Water Summit in Tulare, Calif., on Feb. 13 discussed the toll the lack of irrigation water could have on workers, schools, local governments and infrastructure in a video. The Summit was on the closing day of this year’s Expo.

“This is a very different year from what we’ve had in the past,” said Mario Santoyo, executive director of the California Latino Water Coalition who served a moderator for the first panel at the Summit. “If you look back at 1976 and 1077, that was one of our hardest droughts where there was very little water. But this year is going to be worse than that.

For the first time in memory, he said, the East Side of the San Joaquin Valley, will experience water shortages as we ll. “That’s something they have rarely had to deal with.”

“If we have zero allocations or no water coming our way, that is of grave concern,” said Mayor Gabriel Jimenez of Orange Cove, Calif. “That would put us in a dire situation where we would depend on local farmers to supply that water.”

The problem there would be that water contains nitrates and would have to be treated at considerable expense, according to Jimenez.

“My prayer and hope is that the federal government will recognize that we need more surface water storage,” he noted. “The Temperance Flat dam could help us with that tremendously, not only for Orange Cove but for the entire Central Valley.”

Reduced water allocations will also have an impact on school and governments in the Central Valley, said Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson, by leading to farm workers leaving the valley and taking their children out of the schools. Reduced farm spending will also mean less revenue for local businesses and reduced tax receipts for local governments.

“I can tell you right now the biggest threat to farming and industry in California is the Endangered Species Act,” he said. “They can declare a critter endangered whether they see it or not. They say you have the habitat so it must be there, and you must mitigate it. Then they ask the farmers to pay a penalty because they can’t farm that land. How can that be right?

Larson agreed the Central Valley needs the water from Temperance Flat Dam. “I had a reporter tell me we didn’t need storage because we were going to get all this rainfall from climate change. I told him you made my point because we need to be able to capture that rainfall when we get it, and for that we need storage.”

For more information on the drought in California, click on http://westernfarmpress.com/government/usda-offers-20-million-drought-stricken-california

And http://westernfarmpress.com/irrigation/california-drought-drinks-water-storage

And http://westernfarmpress.com/miscellaneous/southwest-water-shortage-concerns-officials-young-farmers


Discuss this Video 6

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 19, 2014

I really hope this is satirical.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 21, 2014

Ditto, Anon!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 22, 2014

It's not. It's real. Look at the field prices. In Dec. we couldn't get an extra $.50 a ton for processing tomatoes. Earlier this year it increased $12.50 per ton. Alfalfa hay prices continue to increase every week, as do the livestock and dairy that they feed. These are just a few commodities that I'm aware of.
Take Care,

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 21, 2014

Did you ever stop to look at the big picture: maybe you are farming in the wrong place with too many BIG agribusinesses. Lets have smaller more versatile farms that know better how to promote nature and farm. We don't need to sacrifice all fro cheap food. Food should be fairly priced.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 24, 2014

But your vision of a small, versatile farm isn't realistic. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't walked in those shoes. I'm in the heart of Westlands, and you may call me Big Agribusiness. I don't know what your definition of that is. You say I shouldn't be here, but I tell you, it's the perfect place to be. Because of the lack of rain fall, it's much easier to farm. There's less chance of compaction, fungal diseases and rot. Less pesticide use. There's many crops that just aren't suited for wet weather. But they still need water, and at the proper time. And don't forget the heat units, that's a plus. Most processors that I've worked with like it here. The fields are large and square. There's typically no canals, which is a plus for large harvesting equipment. I've heard some horror stories about the levies up north and getting the equipment to a field. I think our district is about 80% drip now. There's not too much flood irrigation here. We are versatile in our crops, but it's changing. Why? The end has to justify the means. The cost of water is pricing certain crops out of the area. So you're forced to bite the bullet and get into higher value crops. I hope that helps. Take Care.

Brunski (not verified)
on Feb 21, 2014

It seems that people will Not appreciate were their food comes from UNTIL... they have None! I can assure you that once a person gets hungry, their desire to overregulate the EPA will change. Unfortunately farmers would have to go out of business to prove this POINT!

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