Monday, February 13, 2012

Crops Minus Water Equals No Jobs

It’s not like I have been too busy to blog. Just haven’t been in the mood or had much to say. I gave up the hardscrabble surrounded-by-liberals life in the SF Bay Area and returned to the Salinas Valley—not exactly heaven on earth with all of the gang activity and lack of jobs. So, I am pretty much unemployed and there’s not much market for writers/editors/PR people in this neck of the woods!

Now I have something to say… I’ll be leaving on Sunday, Feb. 19 for a 100-plus day adventure with three veterans who will be riding bikes across the southern United States to bring awareness to veteran’s issues. I’ll share more in another post.

This post is about the utter disconnect California has between agriculture, specifically agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley south of Stockton, and the population centers that tend to vote for Democrats.

Please people, don’t let the dems tell you they are for jobs.

As I was driving down the Central Valley from Coalinga this past weekend, I noticed signs about water allocations that have been cut to farmland over the past 4 years or so. In some places in the CV, growers have had up to 80 percent of their water allocations cut, and in some farming communities, acreage has been taken out of production all together because water was cut off totally. Growers won’t know how much water they will be allowed to take from the aqueduct system until just before spring—but they are being billed for a 100 percent allocation, even if they are forbidden to take a drop!

The consequence is farmers don’t grow produce, farmworkers don’t have work, and consumers pay more for cotton, table grapes, tomatoes, melons and other truck crops they are used to having in abundance.

I was just sitting here thinking about the ramifications—and the lip service regarding how we need illegal immigrant labor to work farms. Wait a minute here—if there are unemployed farm workers in the Central Valley, why does the Salinas Valley and other farming regions cry “We have a labor shortage!” when there are no doubt unemployed farm workers in the Central Valley. And why don’t those unemployed farm workers move to the Salinas Valley and those regions who draw upon ground water for irrigation? The wages are proportionately higher in the Salinas Valley to help with the higher cost of living. Housing is available, too.

The whole water mess trickles down to all of us, but city dwellers have NO idea of the seriousness of this “save the fish” crap that’s shut down the pumps at the Sacto Delta, sending water south to farms. There are millions of acres in the Central Valley that are lying fallow—what a waste! In the last election, the Republican senatorial candidates all understood this—and of course Barbara Boxer, with her head in the trees hugging that fish is squarely in bed with environmentalists. She doesn’t care about jobs—her answer is to increase entitlements to those unemployed farm workers. Naturally the growers who can’t farm still have to pay their taxes—so what if they have no income! Pay up or lose your land!

Yes, all this started before Obama was crowned. But it was the Democratically-controlled Congress and Senate who did this—not Bush. So don't blame Bush.

Next time you drive down I-5 to LA, look at the easy-to-read signs along the road that reveal grower had 80 percent of their water allocation cut, the following year 80 percent and in 2010, 50 percent. The signs have been up for awhile apparently—but most people driving by are utterly clueless as to what they mean. They probably think the open farmland is a wildlife preserve and that fallow farmland is a good thing!


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