Farmers: Obama's drought relief efforts lacking

The president is scheduled to meet with a round table of farmers in California to see the drought's impact firsthand
Associated Press
Feb 14, 2014

Farmers in California's drought-stricken Central Valley said Friday the financial assistance President Barack Obama is delivering on his visit does not get to the heart of California's long-term water problems.

Amid one of the driest years in the state's recorded history, Obama will come to the Fresno area to announce $100 million in livestock-disaster aid, $60 million to support food banks and another $13 million toward things such as conservation and helping rural communities that could soon run out of drinking water.

Sarah Woolf, a partner with Clark Brothers Farming in Fresno County, said anything will help, but the federal government needs to better manage the state's water supplies so farmers have enough during future droughts like the current one.

"Throwing money at it is not going to solve the problem long-term," she said.

In the ever-present tension between farmers and endangered fish, Woolf said she would like Obama to recognize the importance of providing the region with ample water for growers like her. Woolf typically plants 1,200 acres in tomatoes, garlic and onions, but this year 800 acres will remain bare because there's not enough water.

Protecting the environment is important, but endangered fish too often get priority over farming, Woolf said. In wet years, too much water is sent down rivers and out to the Pacific Ocean, supposedly benefiting the fish, that could be stored up for dry years like this, she said.

The Central Valley produces nearly one-third of the nation's fruits and vegetables, and Fresno County leads the nation in agriculture. Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, estimates that 25 percent of the county's irrigated land will go unplanted because of the drought.

The drought has caused Democrats and Republicans in Congress to propose dueling emergency bills. Led by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the House passed one that would free up water for farmers by rolling back environmental protections and stop the restoration of a dried-up stretch of the San Joaquin River that once had salmon runs.

Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer proposed their own version that pours $300 million into drought-relief projects without changing environmental laws. The bill would allow more flexibility to move water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farms in the south and speed up environmental reviews of water projects.

In his visit, Obama is scheduled to meet with a round table of farmers in Firebaugh and Los Banos and see the drought's impact firsthand.

Mark Borba, of Borba Farms, said he hasn't been invited to meet the president and share his story. Borba's farm typically grows 11,000 acres of almonds, tomatoes, garlic, lettuce, onions and much more.

Because of the drought, Borba said one-third of his crops won't be planted. Rather than bringing money, Borba said the president could ease this year's drought hardship on farmers by relaxing federal environmental regulations within the boundaries of the law intended to protect endangered fish.

"We don't want money," Borba said. "We don't want a handout."

Not everybody dismissed Obama's announcement.

Rick Palermo of the Community Food Bank in Fresno said he expects that the drought will lengthen lines in three Central Valley counties he serves. The Fresno food bank expects to receive some of the president's money, but his worry is that the donations they get from farmers may be lacking.

About half of the 30 million pounds of food they distribute each month is grown in the Central Valley, he said.

"If folks aren't growing it, there's a good chance we're not going to get the type of donations we need," Palermo said. "It's a dual impact on us."

Members of least one environmental group plan to converge on Fresno to voice their positions on California's divisive struggles over water.

Members of Restore the Delta, a grassroots environmental organization based in Stockton, hope to show Obama their opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown's multibillion-dollar twin-tunnels proposal for diverting water around the delta for use on farms.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, the group's executive director, said her group won't protest, but rather try to educate the president, if they get anywhere near him.

"President Obama should not be misled," she said. "We implore him not to support this boondoggle."

Comments

pntbutterandjelly

This is more than just "fish against farmers" as the article tries to portray. It is how we use our resources. More so...it is about the carrying capacity of our planet. It's a simple fact but not a palatable thought but...our planet can only support "x" number of humans. Between carrying capacity and pollution...we are setting ourselves up for a disaster.

By the way on another note...the one farmer interviewed stated "they don't want a handout...they just want help". What's the difference? I too would love to have some free governmental help to promote my businesses. That same "help" he was talking about amounts to him getting his water and somebody else who doesn't get their water as he also gets his "free lunch". Funny how that works out. (And...what's the difference between a Union and a farmer's Co-op?) (Answer: nothing)

"Farm Price Supports/Subsidies" are yet another silent tax on the tax-paying citizens that farmers do NOT like to think about, discuss or admit to. If you strike up a conversation with them about it and get them backed into a verbal corner... they get angry and then leave for Florida for the Winter. It's an indefensible position and they know it but still reach out for more free money (oops...subsidies). It, like so many other "subsidies" corporate America receives, is actually "Anti-free Market Capitalization". That concept of free markets with no governmental intrusion is the concept the Republican Party tries to carry as their banner but yet...they still subsidize all the "friends" they can buy. Go figure.

I am only "picking on" farmers as that is what the above article is focused on. If one reads between the lines just a little...it too exemplifies the status of our nation. "Free Markets", "Free Enterprise", "Capitalism" and even Democracy have been become nothing more than a game of "He with the most gets more".

("My garden patch dried up last year. I want some "help"!)
Good luck with that one.

Now...back to the carrying capacity issue of our planet. 7,000,000,000 humans and rising. How many are too many?

pntbutterandjelly

Dried up San Joaquin River
Dried up Colorado River
Multibillion dollar twin tunnels

IDEA: Let's drain the Great Lakes for California farmers.
Better Idea: Let's assess them for the water projects costs.
Best idea: Let free markets become truly free again WITH OUT governmental intervention.

Contango

Re: "like so many other "subsidies" corporate America receives,"

Do you deduct reasonable business expenses from your fed income tax owed?

Don't many on the left argue that those are 'in reality' "subsidies"?

coasterfan

Tango, a single family taking a few hundred $ of business expense deductions isn't a huge drag on our economy, and is absolutely deserved. Meanwhile, companies who earn tens of millions in profits each year - who obviously don't need gov't handouts - get millions of $ in gov subsidies each year. Please explain why billionaire oil companies should receive any help from the fed, when they obviously do not need it.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Meanwhile at the ACA...

Contango

Re: "How many are too many?"

Perhaps we need a Malthusian solution.

Approx. 100M dead due to war in the 20th Century. Perhaps we can resolve to do better in the 21st?

Contango

Sarah Woolf: "Throwing money at it is not going to solve the problem long-term,"

Well in that case then, the Community Organizer-in-Chief is totally clueless, since he only knows how to spend, spend, spend.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I presume the only farmers he will meet are hand-picked (yuk yuk yuk) by him or his staff to make sure he is told what he wants to hear. I hate being this skeptical, but is it too much of a stretch to imagine that's the case? If the owner of an 11,000 acre farm doesn't get to bathe in our President's radiance, who does?

The Big Dog's back

You're getting more negative by the day sappy.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I could use some good news, Big Dog. Whatcha have for me?

The Big Dog's back
The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

That certainly made me laugh, thank you.

The Big Dog's back

Your welcome! LOL!

Darwin's choice

Got worms?

The Big Dog's back

woow pooh, totally off topic. And did I mention you hate Obama?

Contango

Re: "totally off topic"????

lol.

Didn't read the article did you, derpy?

coasterfan

Good job rewriting history, Tango. Spending increased an average of 8% per year under Bush, and a little more than 1% per year under Obama. The deficit has been cut in half under Obama. Yeah, I know that's an inconvenient truth for your party, and they take the usual GOP stance: pretending it didn't even happen.

Of course we're still in debt. We still have the same expenses, plus 2 unfunded Bush wars on our credit card., and only Dems appear to understand that we can't pay off the debt without a combination of less spending and increased revenue. If conservatives were truly interested in fixing the problem, they wouldn't cry for tax cuts for the rich...

Donegan

You mean the same democrats who voted for the unfunded wars know how to fix stuff? Its been 5 1/2 years and those samew two unfunded wars are still going. If the democrats had any clue they could have did it, But instead we got a handout to the insurance companies that is so screwed up the president is risking impeachment by postponing his namesake. I say its your law enforce it and let the citizens see what you have done before the next election so it can be stopped.

grumpy

.

grumpy

Deficit spending under bush was $4.785 trillion in 8 years. deficit spending was 6.779 under obama in 5 years.

Since this is fiscal years September 1 to August 31. I advance it a yer for each president since it seemed to be the fair way but you can make the break wherever you wish. These are the deficits by fiscal year and you can judge who spent what. This is why you want to see the actual numbers as well as only the percentages like coasterfan showed. It is always best to show both sets of numbers when using statistics so you can see all sides to the numbers instead of trying to spin it.

http://www.usgovernmentspending....

You will have to look for some of the years on other links or pages in the above link.

I don't expect you to blindly believe what figures I give you so I link to the information. I don't expect you to believe what some unknown person on the internet claims, you can check my information, unlike some who never make links or say where they get their information from. I wonder if they get their information from comedians, comedy channel, or wingnut blogs as some try to pass off as being "facts" from such places.

2001 there was a surplus of $128 billion
2002 deficit was $158 billion
2003 deficit was $378 billion
2004 deficit was $413 billion
2005 deficit was $318 billion
2006 deficit was $248 billion
2007 deficit was $161 billion
2008 deficit was $459 billion
2009 deficit was $1.413 trillion

2010 deficit was $1.294 trillion
2011 deficit was $1.300 trillion
2012 deficit was $1.087 trillion
2013 deficit was $680 billion
2014 deficit is projected to be $744 billion
2015 deficit is projected to be $577 billion

OMG.LOL.WT_

Contango, take a chill pill.

Contango

Great use of a cliché. lol

KURTje

How true peanut butter.