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A Fishy Tale (Farmers vs. fish in California. Americans develop bad habit of avoiding tough choices)
National Review ^ | 9/24/2009 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 09/24/2009 8:30:44 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Nearly a quarter-million acres worth of contracted federal irrigation deliveries have been cut from the big farms of the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in central California. The water in large part is being diverted to the salty San Francisco Bay and the delta to improve marine ecology.

The result of the cutbacks is that many crops in the San Joaquin Valley have gone unplanted. Farm income is down. Thousands of farm laborers are unemployed. Growers and workers are now livid at environmentalists, federal bureaucrats, and judges for worrying more about fish than about people and food growing.

Environmentalists counter that the real cause of the cutoff is an ongoing drought. They argue there are too many claims on too little fresh water with no margin of safety in dry years like this one. The problem is not just saving tiny delta smelt or salmon, but a larger one of living within our means and not polluting our fragile ecosystem.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: california; farmer; fish; smelt; vdh; victordavishanson
Emotion colors the arguments of both sides. The west side is not yet a “dust bowl,” as claimed on Fox News, and San Francisco Bay and the delta will not turn stagnant, as some environmentalists fret. The majority of west-side land is still farmed, and the bay is far cleaner than it was decades ago.

The crisis is not over an entire valley, but instead a sizable part of it without regular irrigation deliveries. For those farmers and workers whose livelihoods depend on that parched acreage, the result is undeniably catastrophic.

All this should remind us that Americans have developed a bad habit of avoiding tough choices. Californians could build more dams and more canals, and farm with adequate irrigation, but that would mean fewer natural flowing rivers, fewer fish, and saltier deltas.

Few, though, will honestly acknowledge, “I want 10,000 acres of almonds, but I realize that will mean a slightly saltier delta and less marine life,” or, on the flip side, “I vote for more delta smelt but understand that will mean fewer tomatoes.”

Instead of making these bad/worse decisions, we dream on about a natural California, with plenty of rain, stuffed with 36 million affluent residents (most of them crammed near Los Angeles or San Francisco).

Amnesiac federal officials and judges likewise are just as unrealistic.

The problems with fish in San Francisco Bay area water are not just because fresh river water is being sent to San Joaquin Valley farms.

Northern Californian sewer districts, businesses, and developers also are dumping more treated wastewater and run-off into the delta and bay, and more fresh water is thus needed to flush it out. Yet it seems easier to cut short a few thousand farmers and farm workers than to order millions of Northern Californians to alter their habits.

It was also the federal government in the first place that, rightly or wrongly, built the dams, canals, and pumps to provide the vast water transfers for farming. Once upon a time, the government saw public benefit in turning arid land into green productive farms.

So naturally the federal government also provided the crop and irrigation subsidies to encourage a few individuals to create a vast corporate agribusiness out of former alkali wasteland of the valley’s west side. Now that its old dream of new productive farms, plentiful food, and thousands of new jobs is realized, a different sort of bureaucracy and judiciary has the luxury to renege and question whether the investment was ever worth it.

Californians and Americans, of course, will still eat no matter what happens to this water, as they still drive. But if we do not produce our own food and fuel, someone else will do it for us.

That means we will have to earn — or borrow — the necessary cash payments from somewhere to ensure our present standard of living. Good luck with that. Currently the United States is running a $2 trillion annual deficit and a $32-billion-a-month trade deficit. California itself is trying to recover from a recent $42 billion budget shortfall.

Unless we cut our population or our appetites, each acre of food we idle in the United States — just like every barrel of oil we don’t pump — means that we will import what we take for granted from somewhere else.

We can be sure that even if we find the money to pay those who sell us our imported food and fuel, they will produce it in a lot messier fashion than we can ever imagine —ensuring a poorer America and a dirtier planet all at once.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. He lives and works with his family on a 40-acre tree and vine farm in Selma, California. © 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

1 posted on 09/24/2009 8:30:45 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Next thing will be the eviro nazis will convince the socialist dems to burn our food in an attempt to cool the planet, oh wait, never mind.


2 posted on 09/24/2009 8:34:07 AM PDT by PilotDave (America; nice while it lasted... I miss it already.)
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To: SeekAndFind

More almonds & tomatoes!
And if we’re talking about tough decisions: destroy/dismantle/abolish social security & Medicare/Medicaid, any government agency that does not fill a Constitutionally mandated or authorized function should also be dropped. (Goodbye NEA, EPA, IRS, TSA...)


3 posted on 09/24/2009 8:36:07 AM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: SeekAndFind

It starts with “Save the Delta Smelt” How do we save them? Pump the little fresh water fish into a saltwater environment, makes a lot of sense.


4 posted on 09/24/2009 8:37:29 AM PDT by Foolsgold ("We live in the greatest country in the world and I am going to change it" Barry O'boomarang 2008)
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To: SeekAndFind

The main question that no one has answered yet is what part is Pelousy and her real estate mogul husband playing in this? If it goes on much longer, lots of valuable farm ground will be sold a dime on the dollar at bank sales. Will Pelousy end up owning a majority of that land and then the water come back on? Inquiring minds need to know.


5 posted on 09/24/2009 8:41:09 AM PDT by Concho
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To: SeekAndFind
"our fragile ecosystem."

Are there any more contemptible words in this world today to those trying to oppose the enviro-fascists?

The world went on for millenia without them to "put things right" and it will go on without them, but God help us, they just want to do good....frickin do gooders will be the end of us....or at least our way of life.

6 posted on 09/24/2009 8:42:31 AM PDT by runninglips (It was just time for this to come to a head.....)
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To: SeekAndFind

Just think of all the millions of gallons of water used to irrigate crops JUST to burn them up as fuel. Now THAT is an abomination....brought to us by the “watermelons”...you know, green on the outside, red inside....socialists in drag.....ethanol as fuel. It lowers gas mileage, robs the world of needed food, causes worse emissions, and uses MORE petroleum to make a gallon, than it produces. Welcome to liberal heaven, which coincidentally and logically, is hell.


7 posted on 09/24/2009 8:47:59 AM PDT by runninglips (It was just time for this to come to a head.....)
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To: SeekAndFind

VDH does a good job outlining the cost/benefit questions about this saga and he’s right that we need to have the discussion on a number of similar issues. What he ignores is who will the discussions be between....who are honorable to conduct this discussion when 1 side appears to be on the path of Cloward-Piven?


8 posted on 09/24/2009 8:49:07 AM PDT by iopscusa (El Vaquero. (SC Lowcountry Cowboy))
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To: Foolsgold

Start a fish farm.


9 posted on 09/24/2009 8:50:12 AM PDT by FES0844
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To: SeekAndFind

Perhaps they should irrigate with Gatorade. After all, it’s got what plants crave.....electrolytes.


10 posted on 09/24/2009 8:50:53 AM PDT by Roccus (My anger is manufactured.......................................in the WHITE HOUSE and CONGRESS!!)
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To: Jeff Head
Right Magazine. So maybe my email pans out.

Regards,

TS

11 posted on 09/24/2009 8:53:15 AM PDT by The Shrew (www.wintersoldier.com; www.tstrs.com; The Truth Shall Set You Free!)
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To: Concho

It’s obvious to me that this is all about someone buying up all that land for pennies on the dollar.


12 posted on 09/24/2009 8:53:15 AM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
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To: runninglips

San Diego Carburetor says that ethanol keeps his business alive,the stuff eats up all the rubber seals.


13 posted on 09/24/2009 8:55:48 AM PDT by Foolsgold ("We live in the greatest country in the world and I am going to change it" Barry O'boomarang 2008)
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To: Roccus

Electrolytes are used to make Brawndo, and since Brawndo is the most awesome drink in the world, that’s why they use electrolytes.


14 posted on 09/24/2009 8:56:32 AM PDT by LanPB01
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To: SeekAndFind; The Shrew
The answer is clearly to allow the farmers of our nation to continue to produce the food that we, and the rest of the world needs...and not to sacrifice that vital national interest (which ultimately is a national security interest), on the alter of junk environmental science that is cunducted for political, ideological and control purposes.

My advise to the farmers in the central valley stands.

TURN YOUR WATER ON - LET THE WATER FLOW!


15 posted on 09/24/2009 9:01:08 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Freedom is not free...never has been, never will be. (www.dragonsfuryseries.com))
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To: PilotDave

Nearly a quarter-million acres worth of contracted federal irrigation deliveries have been cut from the big farms.
So we have to import crops from Mexico yes it’s a fish story alright.


16 posted on 09/24/2009 9:02:29 AM PDT by Vaduz
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To: SeekAndFind

This is a battle that I have been fighting for just about 20 years in the Klamath River Basin. It is all about the use of force by government to reallocate wealth. Force - that is what regulation is. Using the spotted owl and the coho, the federal and State endangered species acts have destroyed our local economy to the point that we have 18% unemployment and 70% of our children living in poverty.

Once the second largest timber producing county in California, now all our lumber mills are closed. All we have left is two veneer mills. Our forests burn horrendously (250,000 acres in 2008) because the growth rate far exceeds anything allowed by environmentalists to be taken off the forest and the resultant ladder fuels carry fire into the crowns of the trees.

The legislature killed the mining industry for the sake of salmon this year. Now our Happy Camp food bank is out of food trying to feed the poor blokes who made a living mning. The local supermarket is down $40,000 in income from this time last year. Wonder if it will survive.

Farmers and ranchers (hay and cow/calf) are suffering poor prices for hay as the dairy industry downsizes. At the same time, through ESA and the Clean Water Act, salmon activists repeatedly hack away at any profits and threaten continued access to basic water for irrigation. (Local water rights are property - adjudicated and with many dating back to the 1850-70s.)

Government force (regulation) is a power that should be used only to secure general public health and safety from the threat of substantial injury by imposing prohibitions and mitigations in a reasonable manner. This is not that. It is wealth redistribution - taking from the villanized farmer and giving to the coastal and tribal economy. By regulating the use of natural resources to increase habitat, the acts turn any use into a “permitted activity” rather than the free use of one’s private property for economic purposes. By turning the use (farming) into an otherwise prohibited activity, it allows them to control where, when and how people farm. It also allows the government to impose “mitigations” at the owners expense to improve habitat - such as planting riparian trees.

Commercial fishing is the only commercial crop I know of where someone else pays for all the inputs in raising the crop and then you get to harvest and sell it and they get nothing.


17 posted on 09/24/2009 9:04:27 AM PDT by marsh2
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To: SeekAndFind

if crops in California are going unplanted, why, that’s very bad for ...MEXICANS!

Maybe we can set up EnviroGreenies and LaRaza in a Celebrity Cage Death Match....


18 posted on 09/24/2009 9:26:47 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: SeekAndFind
Northern Californian sewer districts, businesses, and developers also are dumping more treated wastewater and run-off into the delta and bay, and more fresh water is thus needed to flush it out. Yet it seems easier to cut short a few thousand farmers and farm workers than to order millions of Northern Californians to alter their habits.

I used to think this guy was alright but lately he is showing himself to be leaning to the left, he** today he defended LGF.

The point of this article shouldn't be that Californias use low flush toilets or take a dump outside under a tree to save water(oK, I added that)but that the state should dump the EPA and start building desalinization plants all along the coast, thus eliminating the water problem forever. This guy is also downplaying the total devastation that cutting the water off to these farmers is causing.

Do we need more damns in CA? Yep, we need them for the electricity that greenies don't want us to have, fish ladders solve the fish problem. Desalinization plants would solve the "salt water" backing up into the delta in the summer, as all the water farmers and others would need would come from them, or at least most of it.

If the Southern half of the state built the plants the North would have plenty of water without them. The tough choice Californians should be making isn't whether to flush or not but to dump EPA regs and ignore fed mandates on building. Kick the greenies out of the state and do what is best for the humans living here.

19 posted on 09/24/2009 9:28:26 AM PDT by celestron71
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To: celestron71

He defended LGF? Where?


20 posted on 09/24/2009 9:38:37 AM PDT by csmusaret (Joe Wilson--Speaking truth to power)
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To: csmusaret

There was an article posted today on FR, sorry don’t have the link, in which he made all types of excuses for LGF. That, coupled with his down playing the crisis of no water for Farmers in CA and failing to even mention desalinization plants, the real solution to this problem, pretty much says to me VDH is losing it, OR, he never actually had it(actually it is more than that, I have noticed a decided left ward trend to his writing lately, IMO.)


21 posted on 09/24/2009 9:43:08 AM PDT by celestron71
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To: SeekAndFind

Bad habit of eating, too.


22 posted on 09/24/2009 9:53:49 AM PDT by Waco (OK Libs, stop emiting)
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To: celestron71

You do know he has a farm about 35 miles from the place Sean Hannity broadcast his latest show about this issue right?


23 posted on 09/24/2009 10:02:36 AM PDT by csmusaret (Joe Wilson--Speaking truth to power)
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To: SeekAndFind
All this should remind us that Americans have developed a bad habit of avoiding tough choices... Instead of making these bad/worse decisions, we dream on about a natural California, with plenty of rain, stuffed with 36 million affluent residents

The ability to entertain two contradictory courses of action at once, and to consider doing so a "solution to the problem," is a characteristic of the liberal mind. Told that welfare programs create a culture of dependency, the liberal will call for a program that hands out free money while simultaneously stimulating the desire to get a job. Told that affirmative action programs must necessarily discriminate against somebody if they are going to favor others, the liberal sees the solution in an "affirmative action program without quotas."

Liberals do not accept the fact that only in la-la land can two contradictory propositions be satisfied simultaneously.

This is why states run by liberals continuously over many decades end up bankrupt, with high unemployment and vast tracts of abandoned property. The liberals truly do not understand why this happens. They passed laws to have everything both ways... it all should have turned out wonderful. Instead they get Michigan. And soon, California.


24 posted on 09/24/2009 10:13:32 AM PDT by Nick Danger (Free cheese is found only in mousetraps)
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To: SeekAndFind; neverdem; Lando Lincoln; SJackson; dennisw; kellynla; monkeyshine; Alouette; ...

 

  Ping !

Let me know if you want in or out.

Links:   

FR Index of his articles:  http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index
NRO archive: http://author.nationalreview.com/?q=MjI1MQ==
Pajamasmedia:  http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/
His website: http://victorhanson.com/

25 posted on 09/24/2009 10:14:05 AM PDT by Tolik (my photos from the TeaParty: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2340411/posts)
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To: csmusaret
Hannity was in Huron, CA. It may be about 35 miles from Selma, but VDH's point is that it's the western side of the valley which is being hurt by the cut-off. Huron is near I-5. Selma is on the eastern side of the valley on Hwy. 99.

VDH also makes it sound like a smaller number of acres are being left dry (his figure is half what Hannity was saying).

26 posted on 09/24/2009 10:20:15 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Verginius Rufus

I was born in Selma and grew up in Pixley. I am well aware of where Selma and Huron are. My point is so does Hanson. Watching Hannity’s show leaves the impression that the entire valley is being cut off and Hanson just points out that that is not the case. I don’t know what LGF means, but I think VDH wrote a balanced piece here.


27 posted on 09/24/2009 10:24:59 AM PDT by csmusaret (Joe Wilson--Speaking truth to power)
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To: marsh2

We think that nuclear weapons are the ultimate weapons, they aren’t. FOOD is. For one of the bright alert readers out there, check how much surplus food there is in the United States, and then determine how many days we can live on it. Beware my friends.


28 posted on 09/24/2009 10:37:35 AM PDT by Citizen Tom Paine
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To: celestron71

The point of this article shouldn't be that Californias use low flush toilets or take a dump outside under a tree to save water(oK, I added that)but that the state should dump the EPA and start building desalinization plants all along the coast, thus eliminating the water problem forever. This guy is also downplaying the total devastation that cutting the water off to these farmers is causing.

Downplaying?

VDH: The crisis is not over an entire valley, but instead a sizable part of it without regular irrigation deliveries. For those farmers and workers whose livelihoods depend on that parched acreage, the result is undeniably catastrophic.

He said that the "west side is not yet a “dust bowl", and "The majority of west-side land is still farmed" and "The crisis is not over an entire valley, but instead a sizable part of it". Sound to me as a fact check, so the opposite side won't be able to dismiss the proper claims as exaggeration.

The point of this article shouldn't be that Californias use low flush toilets or take a dump outside under a tree ...

You are misreading the article. What he is talking about is that Californians are leading the way in magical thinking. They want everything without any tradeoffs. And the real life comes out now with a reality check.

VDH:

... All this should remind us that Americans have developed a bad habit of avoiding tough choices. Californians could build more dams and more canals, and farm with adequate irrigation, but that would mean fewer natural flowing rivers, fewer fish, and saltier deltas.

Few, though, will honestly acknowledge, “I want 10,000 acres of almonds, but I realize that will mean a slightly saltier delta and less marine life,” or, on the flip side, “I vote for more delta smelt but understand that will mean fewer tomatoes.”

Instead of making these bad/worse decisions, we dream on about a natural California, with plenty of rain, stuffed with 36 million affluent residents (most of them crammed near Los Angeles or San Francisco).

Your point about Desalinization is a good one. But I don't expect any author cover everything I want the way I want. His point in many articles about California for quite awhile was that it's unsustainable, it's impossible to continue expecting the utopia (even in the paradise like California) without investing into infrastructure, energy development, by driving out the productive with high taxes, regulations etc,etc. He was talking on many occasions that whatever the previous generations built is being squandered quickly and the naturally rich state goes downhill way too fast.

29 posted on 09/24/2009 10:43:30 AM PDT by Tolik (my photos from the TeaParty: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2340411/posts)
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To: Tolik

Yes, downplaying, he is trying to make out as if it only affects a small part of California and it effects the whole state, indeed it effects the whole country. The rest of your comment is not worth responding too. Have a good day.


30 posted on 09/24/2009 11:09:19 AM PDT by celestron71
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To: csmusaret
LGF = Little Green Footballs.

Hannity made it sound like the entire San Joaquin Valley was being turned into a dustbowl, but even his figure of 500,000 acres showed that was an exaggeration--640,000 acres would be 1,000 square miles (less than the area of Rhode Island).

31 posted on 09/24/2009 12:08:00 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: SeekAndFind

Feinstein and her evil allies in our pathetic Congress is a true American Communist practicing similar actions as did Stalin against the Russian farming peasants in the Ukraine!

Stalin must be this despicable woman’s hero!

When will Californians awaken from their drugged sleep which we observers in the rest of America perceive as an Orwellian nightmare?

Down with Feinstein! Down with the central government’s drive to shove our nation into the pit that is pure communism!


32 posted on 09/26/2009 9:52:01 AM PDT by IbJensen (If Catholic voters were true to their faith there would be no abortion and no President Obama.)
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