Sen. Dianne Feinstein does not deserve being blasted by members of the state Legislature nor being characterized as being “owned” by “big ag” to destroy the delta in the political cartoon in The Enterprise. She took a gutsy and justified step in pushing back against the over-reaching demands and onerous regulations driven by the environmental groups to prioritize water for the delta smelt and the salmon over agriculture.
We lack water storage in this state. The opposition of environmental groups has prevented the construction of reservoirs, which would not have prevented the drought, but would have prevented the dire situation that we now have. Agriculture uses 41 percent of the water, with the remaining 59 percent used for habitat and municipal customers.
Farmers have spent millions of dollars installing fish screens on water intake pipes to prevent fish from entering the pipes. Millions to billions of dollars have been spent to improve irrigation practices — drip lines in orchards and vineyards and subsurface drip tape for row crops — producing more per acre with less water.
Agriculture in California contributes billions of dollars to the state economy. Consider the ways that agriculture touches just this area — the university with its research and development, the vet school, Extension services, agricultural specialties, “field stations” and technology development.
Consider the employment of tens of thousands, if not millions of people in this state — field workers, machinery manufacturers, mechanics, equipment operators, harvest crews, the dryers, warehouses, processing shed and companies, farmers markets, grocery stores, truckers who bring the products, fertilizer and chemical companies (research and development), irrigation companies, nurseries, seed companies and more.
California is the largest producer of many foods in the United States and the world and has the strictest regulations for food safety — from production to the consumer.
Most farms in California are family farms, even if, for business reasons, the family is a partnership, an LLC or other entity. Farmers are good stewards of the land and water. Preserving both ensures the continuation of farming into the next generations. A thriving agriculture ensures a thriving California.
Thank you, Sen. Feinstein.