'Honest, hard-working people will suffer' from water cuts
» August 31, 2007 «
Calling it a "sad and troubling" development, the leader of the state's largest farm organization said a federal judge's ruling in Fresno today underlines the limitations of endangered-species laws and the problems posed by an inadequate water system.
California Farm Bureau President Doug Mosebar said the ruling further restricts water supplies for people in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
"This is a sad and troubling day," Mosebar said. "It's sad that many honest, hard-working people will suffer because our water system is broken. It's sad that our laws give more weight to fish than to people. It's troubling that we have reached this point.
"We know that endangered-species laws provide no flexibility. We know that our water system is broken. But we haven't fixed either problem. That's unacceptable," he said.
Mosebar said the ruling will lead to "very real impacts on real people. Family farmers and their employees may be the first to suffer, but the aftershocks will also hurt small-business owners, truck drivers, packinghouse workers--all the people whose jobs are tied to the farm economy in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California."
The Farm Bureau president said consumers will be affected, too.
"We have to remember what irrigation water is used for. It's used to grow food to feed our communities at an affordable price. As California grows, we will need more food to sustain our people. Cutting water to some of the most fertile farmland in the world will make California and the United States more dependent on food imported from other countries. Many of those countries don't have our strong environmental and food-safety standards."
Mosebar said testimony at the trial showed that many factors affect the health of the delta smelt, a protected fish that was the focus of an environmentalist lawsuit. Farm Bureau and other farm and water organizations said during the two-week trial that cutting water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would harm people and not help the smelt.
"Our water system has been stretched beyond its limits. We need to forge a sensible plan to fix it," Mosebar said
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 92,000 members.
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