On the western side of the Central Valley, the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed. Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas — which used to make harvesters, hydraulic lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment — have largely shut down; their production has been shipped off overseas or south of the border. Agriculture itself — from almonds to raisins — has increasingly become corporatized and mechanized, cutting by half the number of farm workers needed. So unemployment runs somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.There was an arbitrary cutoff of water? Why was that?
Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World. There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards.
ttoes, blogging at Responsibility - Freedom Demands It, points out the mechanics of the situation.
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).The Federal Government, under pressure from environmentalists, cut off the irrigation water promised to the Central Valley farmers in order to save the Delta Smelt. The end result: massive poverty and unemployment. So, in order to save tiny fish, social services are being cut and Catholic parishoners are asked to donate more because jobs have been lost and tax revenues are much lower.
There's a solution to all of this, of course, one that lives in your cupboards. It's called a Saturday Night Fish Fry.