Sunday, May 27, 2012

Save the Farmers! Save the Humans!

Driving up I-5 in California, travelers watch swirling dust as it moves along the ground by the roadside on what was once fertile farmland.

For the traveler the several hundred mile stretch of highway is dull and brown with barren land and the remains of orchards. The dead dark branches reach for the sky.

For the farm families the current situation is devastating. A broken economy, broken industry and even broken families are the result of broken promises as the water that once fed this land was turned off.

Signs along the road state 'Congress created a Dust Bowl' and 'No Water = No Jobs'.

What's the story? Why would Congress devastate a region and an industry?

It's all about a small fish in the Sacramento Delta that isn't breeding fast enough. The Smelt became endangered. Rather than seeking to relocate the fish or help it find additional breeding grounds, Congress upheld the decision to stop all irrigation to Central California Farms.

Is this bothering anyone? An even bigger story is that there is little to no coverage of this issue in over a year. Why is there no media coverage since the water has been turned off?

The farmers unnecessarily join the ranks of the unemployed. Fewer farm, transportation and food service workers are needed in an already struggling economy.

What are the numbers?

Estimated impact of stopping food production on thousands of acres is difficult to calculate. Of course all the consumers are paying higher food prices. Additionally, direct adverse economic impact adds more than 5,000 to unemployment lines with a calculable ripple effect of close to 20,000.

I'm not anti-fish. I'm not anti-environment. I'm also not anti-farmer nor anti-food for humans. In the larger picture do we as a society value a small inedible fish more than thousands upon thousands of people?

Save the fish but not at the expense of the farms and farmers. Humans need food too!
Save the Farmers! Save the Humans!

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Torggil said...

In an era of rising food prices, and a likely acute food shortage in a few short years, the decision to save a fish instead of arable farm land seems short sighted and stupid. Can't we just clone the fish or start up a few "smelt farms" and be done with it? Would it not be better to create jobs in a struggling economy? Clearly, the expectation of the people in government showing practical intelligence is nothing more than a child's flight of fancy.

Unless, of course, it's some kind of land grab. Rip out the industry that sits upon it and the land will lose its value. If someone buys it up on the cheap and then turns the water back on....

Kate O'Mara said...

Yes, Torggil I've wondered the same thing. Time will show the truth.