photo credit - Peter B. Johnsen

California’s Central Valley grows about one quarter of all the fruits and vegetables grown in our country.  Or, maybe I should say “did” grow about one quarter.  This past year the numbers were down dramatically as some 750,000 acres of land went without irrigation.  Orchards and vineyards that are up to 50 years old have died for lack of water and are now being torn out.  The water is available, but for fear of killing of the Delta Smelt and with the tool of the Endangered Species Act, the pumps for many of the Valley’s canals have been shut down.

You might think that farmers were none too bright to plant in arid areas that depended on irrigation.  You are probably right since most of them made the huge investments in the land only after getting ‘guarantees’ of water from both the California Water Project and the Federal Water Project.  In other words, farmers put their full faith in their government to do what it said it would do.  That turns out to be a huge mistake.

The Delta-Mendota canal and others were built to move water from the Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers south to cities and farms in Central and Southern California.   The huge water projects in the Central Valley were paid for over many years by State and Federal tax dollars, many, if not most of which, were produced by the richness of the California Agriculture.  As a result of the water projects, in particular the Delta-Mendota and Friant-Kern Canals (both completed as part of the Central Valley Project in 1951), farmers had the water they needed to produce much of the bounty of California’s huge agricultural output.  Today the canals are administered by the Federal Government (Bureau of Reclaimation).

Extreme Environmentalists have learned over the years the power of the Endangered Species Act.  They use it to stop any land use they don’t like.  Often, a small group of very liberal people overrule the wishes of a huge majority of folks by using this tool.  Most often, those using the tool have nothing to lose and are backed by politicians who have power to gain.  What power?  Look at the recent Health Care ‘Debate.”  It was passed through strongarm tactics.  Representatives who are Democrats were told that either they voted for the bill or they would find they had little or  no support and lots of competition in the fall elections. Many were called into the Oval Office and told in no uncertain terms that their political careers were about to end.   Some still knew the 2000+ page bill was a disaster and planned to vote against it.

Those who needed more persuasion held out to get special ‘incentives’ to change their votes, much as Senator Nelson from Nebraska had in the Senate side of the legislation.  California Rep. Jim Costa bragged publicly that during his meeting in the Oval Office, he’d demanded the administration increase water to his Central Valley district.  On the Tuesday before the Health Care vote, Interior made an announcement, giving the Central Valley farmers 25% of water supplies, rather than the expected 5% allocation that had been planned to comply with the order to save the Delta Smelt.  Mr. Costa, who denies there was a quid pro quo, four days later said he’d flip to a yes.  He voted for ObamaCare.  Like many of the wavering Democrats who were “Persuaded” to vote with Mrs. Pelosi, he is a Democrat in an unsafe seat with a great number of Conservative Farmers.  My guess is he was bought and paid for regardless his denial.