Droughts are a terrible thing. While they have an impact on all those living in a drought area, I believe it is farmers who suffer the most. Thus, when a drought occurs, it is the height of irony that farmers get the blame. In 2012, when the drought came to the Midwest, corn and soybean farmers suffered the most. Yet, a Chicago media outlet released a story blaming the extreme weather on the fact that Illinois farmers had been planting too much corn. A similar ludicrous accusation is being leveled as the drought in California continues.
As water restrictions in California are cramping urban homeowners’ lifestyles, the anti-farm rhetoric is heating up. “Agriculture consumes a staggering 80 percent of California’s developed water, even as it accounts for only 2 percent of the state’s gross domestic product,” claimed one media report. Like so many grand accusations, it is not true, but is continuing to be repeated in the press. Not only is this false fact being tossed around California, the national media, including ABC News and the New York Times, have also picked it up and started using it. This is a textbook example of how the media perpetuates a false narrative based on a phony statistic.
According to the National Review, farmers in California do not use 80 percent of California’s water. In reality, 50 percent of the water that is captured by the state’s dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, and other infrastructure is diverted for environmental causes. Hold on, what’s that? You mean the real cause of the water shortage is that the environmental projects are hogging half of the water supply? Yes, boys and girls, this is another example of environmentalists blaming agriculture to cover up their own culpability. According to National Review author Devin Nunes , “Endangered Species Act spawned many of these regulations, such as rules that divert usable water to protect baby salmon and a 3-inch baitfish called the Delta smelt, as well as rules that protect the striped bass, a non-native fish that — ironically — eats both baby salmon and smelt. Other harmful regulations stem from legislation backed by environmental groups and approved by Democratic-controlled Congresses in 1992 and 2009. These rules have decimated water supplies for San Joaquin farmers and communities, resulting in zero-percent water allocations and the removal of increasing amounts of farmland from production.”
In the past few years, efforts have been made to undo some of these burdensome and extreme environmental regulations — but these bills died amid opposition from Senate Democrats, Governor Brown, and President Obama. Since the state of California is a major producer of our fruit, vegetable, and nut supply, this is not just a local issue but one that impacts all of us. California farmers cannot be left to take the blame, but need support from all farmers. The radical environmentalists that caused the water shortage in California are also at work in our state pushing programs that will restrict our water supply and access to farmland.
Most Americans and their elected officials have lost all perspective on the environment. They cut funding for programs that promote soil and water conservation while spending millions on programs that do little to really benefit our ecosystem. It is time to start putting the blame where it really belongs: the regulations the exacerbate the drought.
By Gary Truitt