Tag Archives: delta smelt

Is California Still The World’s Breadbasket?

Grape yields in California may be lower this year due in part to the four-year drought and the state’s incompetent handling of water issues. However, the vineyard business isn’t the only industry suffering in the Golden State. The once vibrant farming industry is steadily being shrunk at ever alarming rates, bringing to question: Is California still America’s breadbasket?

Stockton_farmland

Before those in the Great Plains start having a conniption fit over the term ‘breadbasket’, for a century or more, California has always had the title of the ‘world’s breadbasket’, probably due to the fact so many foods, grown year-round are produced in the nearly 165,000 square miles of its borders. According to California Department of Food and Agriculture, while the state only has 1/20th of the farmland in the United States, it supplies the most products, including dairy, nuts and of course grapes.

Fish = Fallow land

Yet, this great state’s accomplished farm production is waning as huge lots of land acreage go fallow. Although there are many factors involved in how this agricultural powerhouse lost its way, when a bait fish can stop a farmer dead-in-his-tracks, you know there’s something not right.

In the past decade, the delta smelt, used primarily by local fishermen in the San Joaquin Delta for bait to catch other fish, made it’s way into the canals that supply the thousands of farms in the central part of the state where so many crops are grown. The delta smelt and also the Chinook Salmon weren’t comfortable, so to make life better for the fish, life became much worse for the people of the state. You can go here, for more of the insanity regarding the delta smelt. Let’s just say the crazy ways of Sacramento have been very detrimental to human life in the Golden State.

Delta canals distributing water to farms.

The farms of the San Joaquin Valley relied on the water from mountain streams that led into reservoirs and finally the canals. However, with drought, the state felt compelled to stop sending water to the farms, so farmers in-turned, drilled for water. But, they went to the well too often and many of those water wells have dried up. And with it, farmlands have dried up too, looking more like arid deserts, than a vigorous and unique land of plenty.

Lost lands and livelihood 

It’s estimated that 5% of California’s farmlands have gone unplanted. Hundreds of millions of dollars – and maybe billions – have been lost due to the financial strain caused by shrinking farm production. A cross section of crops such as orange orchards and rice fields have gone fallow at alarming rates. Lost businesses and jobs are the norm. Drive through the center of the state, and you will see fallow lands everywhere. It’s not pretty.

Climate change folks might bark that this is a direct result of ‘global warming’, but even alarmist experts have backed off any correlation between the weather in California and so-called man-made climate change (source: NBC).

California farmland going fallow quickly.

The southern part of the San Joaquin Valley is being hit the worse. Counties such as Kern, King and Tulare are running out of ground water, some of which was sold to other regions before they new there would be a severe drought. And there lies another problem.

Big city water

The big cities of the state including Los Angeles, have tied up and purchased vast amounts of water from around the state. The Metropolitan Water District in Southern California has control of vast amounts of water. For instance, they purchased large farmlands next to the Colorado River, to ensure water for the millions of people living in the Greater L. A. Area (source: Desert Sun).

The state has ripped the water rights away from farmers all over California. Crops like grapes haven’t been affected too badly yet, but it will be only a matter of time before vineyards start being left abandoned with no irrigation to keep them going.

UC Davis reported in June that the agricultural industry in the state will have an estimated $2.7 billion in losses and about 18,600 job cuts as a result of the drought. Over half-a-million acres have gone fallow in the Golden State, which has left fields looking gold and not green.

Is California Still The World’s Breadbasket? The answer may not be long in coming.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

.

Renovated Used Wine Barrel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get these already popular barrels now! 

 

 

Advertisements

Farmers Have Had Enough – Sue California

In the ongoing battle for water and rights, a group of farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have filed a suit against the state of California.

Friant Water AuthorityThe drought has been agitated and made worse by decisions created by state official’s choices. Therefore, the suit was filed by the Friant Water Authority – a group of about 15,000 farmers – to address these poor resolutions by the state.

Government not helping

The problem is the state has decided that a wildlife refuge north of Los Banos (and others) was more important than the welfare and legal rights of California citizens including growers. The farmer’s rights were denied when the state allowed water for the bird refuge while denying delivery of water to growers. Law states the farmers have higher precedence over wildlife and thus the water should have been delivered to the small towns along with growers in the area.

As a whole, the Golden State is semi-arid and thus has built dams and water project throughout California to cope with a lack of water, especially during dry years. The issue has risen and been compounded because state and federal officials have been using water to help a baitfish and salmon deal with their less than desirable conditions. However, that has led to huge amounts of water being allotted for wildlife while denying Californians water.

San Luis National Refuge

Piling on

Causing a man-made disaster, the federal government pushed by environmentalists, allowed water to be diverted towards the ocean so the Delta Smelt would have the correct amount of water to exist. That’s on top of the fact that farmers weren’t allowed to use their own channels because the smelt had worked its way into the farmers waterways. Another reprehensible action by the state was denying farmers the water that was already purchased.

With an iffy weather report for this coming winter, the drought will continue to be front-and-center with the government pitted against its citizens.

The suit by the Friant Water Authority can’t help what has already transpired, but it can negate and/or facilitate future water right’s situations should they arise again.

Cheers,

Daryle Hier

.

WineBarrelBizCard-background

http://pasowinebarrels.com/

Food And Water VS Big Gov

Opinion:

Don’t want to be too technical, so in a nutshell, here is what we have as far as our water problems in California. Government forces including power brokers in politics as well as food and water consortiums have combined to wrest Californians of their ability to eat and drink, using heavy regulations and making life more expensive.California Water

This is a personal conclusion and essentially an opinion – so take it as you will. However, I’ve been following the socalled ‘water crisis’ in California for some time and you’ve probably noticed (see at bottom), I’ve blogged about the situation and other ancillary issues related to water, drought, vineyards, conserving rainwater, etc.

To again, keep this brief, here’s what I’ve concluded. And note, my opinions may change as more information comes out, but here’s how I see the water farming problem in California.

It’s man-made

I’ve touched on this before but as I’ve read more and more, it has become obvious that the powers-that-be, have no intention on making life better for farmers or Californians as a whole. Politics has a place in this, but since I am independent from the major parties, I feel at least partially unbiased on how I position my thought process.

One big reason I don’t believe anyone in government has the folks best interest at heart is the fact that we could simply build more reservoirs and desalination plants. We could have more water than we would ever need … but what good does that do politicians and power brokers? It doesn’t.

Simple fix

So there’s fear-mongering in boatloads and the current drought is an excellent and ideal circumstance to proliferate fear in the public. If they came out and said, we have the Pacific Ocean and it makes no sense not using that everlasting supply of water with desalination plants all up and down the coast, that would not help with power and control – which is what they get with more regulation and higher food and water costs.

Sure there’s costs in implementing such large tasks like desalination and reservoir projects, but the situation is costing us anyway. If the new plants were built, it would reduce the cost of water while cutting back on our need for importing food – which is what the giant agriculture companies are doing.

The San Joaquin Valley by itself could feed the country if it was allowed. The Imperial and Salinas Valley‘s along with the Sacramento area also can produce vast amounts of foods if we had enough water to properly farm them. But this doesn’t help the power brokers.

Fish over man

Delta Smelt

Helping the Delta Smelt – a bait fish that found its way into the canal system – has done irreparable harm to Californians.

There are more sinister plots in place but you should research this subject to come to your own conclusions. I’ve done that, and while this upsets the heck out of me and those around me who have learned these devious intentions as well, I feel people need to work on finding out more about why politicians are creating this man-made crisis.

By restricting water to farms with over-regulation creates a huge crisis out of the drought situation … plain and simple. Saying the needs of fish (i.e. the Delta Smelt) override the needs of people is something that should scare everyone. I understand about the place we humans have in making sure we are the caretakers of this planet and all that’s on it. But at the cost of man?

Paid water sent to the ocean

However, when no politician comes up with an idea to increase supply, but instead only wants to decrease use of land for food, makes me think twice about those in charge and there objective. And here’s a kicker: farmers paid for water, they never received. It’s like paying your water bill in advance and when you were ready to cook a meal and needed to turn the faucet on, there wasn’t anything there. Would you be happy?Valley_Farms_Paid-for_water

Ask yourself, why do we divert water out to the ocean rather than use it? The loss of tens of thousands of jobs by making sure the delta smelt has a certain amount of water is absurd. The canals the smelt swims in now, were built by and for the farmers who in-turn can’t use that water anymore. Does any of that make sense? To make the matter worse, the state is trucking in salmon to stock rivers. I’m sure that will turn out okay for all concerned. Yeah, right.

California naturally is a rather dry state and relies heavily on the Sierra Nevada Mountains for most of its water. A system was put in place including the California Aqueduct to make sure that even in drought, we would have the necessary water to make it through. With over-regulations, that state system has been broken by politicians and their cronies with Californians suffering the consequences. Some might call this an oligarch, but regardless, politics are at the bottom of this.

The California AqueductThe tragedy of all this is we didn’t and don’t need to diminish our crops. This man-made crisis can be fixed by doing what a drought-type climate should always do, conserve water when it rains and otherwise take sea water and make drinking water out of it. The long-term advantage of this would save any smelt while also relieving those of us who live in the Golden State of water restriction concerns.

Again, this is my opinion and you should go out and find what actually is going on … just like I did.

Now, on a more pleasant thought … think purple.

Related articles:

Should California expand reservoir capacity by removing sediment?

Is Water Conservation Good?

Water Versus Food?

Is There A Water Shortage In Paso Robles?

Paso Robles Water Problem … continued

Paso Robles Water Problem

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

.

WineBarrelBizCard-background

http://pasowinebarrels.com/

 

Water Versus Food?

The state of California is in a severe drought and though we just had a drenching rain on Super Bowl Sunday, the fact is one storm does not end what still is the driest year on record.  Governor Jerry Brown declared a state-of-emergency and then to exacerbate the situation and make matters worse for farmers, specifically in the San Joaquin Valley, the state has cut off all water from the State Water Project.

Essentially, the Governor and state of California are saying ‘you’re on your own’.  And yet this serious situation doesn’t appear to be making the major headlines with the media who seemed more concerned with toilet fishing in the Olympics than a major food source being driven to the brink.

Farmers still taking the brunt

Delta smelt

Farmers helped build canals for their farms that eventually the endangered delta smelt now inhabits.

Many cities across the Golden State will be hamstrung for water, but those feeling the pinch the most will be farmers.  The region had been already hit hard when water restrictions were imposed to purportedly save the delta smelt that had worked its way into farmer’s canals.  That created unemployment figures that in some areas were 50% and produced losses in the billions of dollars for the state.

The San Joaquin Valley is or at least was considered one of the most productive food regions in the United States if not the world.  However, the valley has been devastated economically by the supposed dangers to the smelt.  Now, with the state denying farms any water at all, the likely destruction of farmland could be catastrophic.  It should be noted that even with the cuts, Fresno County still leads the nation in farming.

The San Joaquin Valley is a large representation of what is going on all over California.  With only urban cities receiving limited deliveries of water, farming communities as well as small towns could be left without.  The state is leaving waters in reservoirs for fish to survive but not farmers.  As was mentioned in our story last week, cities all over the state our nervously looking for water such as what sits underneath the Paso Robles ground water basin.

Pulling out

Ironic sign for farmers

Ironic sign for farmers

Nut farms which use more water than say vegetable crops will see owners prone to pull the trees for crops that don’t require as much water.  Such may be the case with grapes as well.  Vineyards are more efficient than nut trees but vintners are getting anxious and in some small instances, vines are being pulled.

Concerns of Californians are all about the lack of water.  The question though has to be asked as to whether some fish and urban populations should take more of the brunt of this problem or are we going to risk farms and food instead.

Although there are questions about just how much more storms are is in store for the state, even if the rest of winter was steady with rain, major issues will continue, as sides are being taken between water and food … and farmers.

Mahalo,

Daryle Hier

.

WineBarrelBizCard-background

http://pasowinebarrels.com/