How the federal government chokes-off the farming industry in the west

Good news: the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published research indicating that there are lots of un-filled jobs and career opportunities in the farming industry. Bad news: the Obama Administration has been cannibalizing the nation’s farmers for the bigger part of the last six years.

First the good news. According to a report at CNBC.Com, the USDA has uncovered some eye-opening statistics about the world of agribusiness. The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58, and has been on the rise for the last thirty years. There are now six times more farmers 65 years of age and older than there are farmers 34 years of age and younger.

The USDA fears that the farming industry may be left without adequate workers and expertise within a few short years. But the data also suggest something very positive: there is an entire industry here in the U.S., and a very necessary and essential industry at that, that is full of work and career opportunity for those who are interested and willing to pursue it.

But while the USDA is putting out the good word about job opportunities in farming, other federal government agencies have been undermining and harassing farmers for the past six years. Consider as an example the plight of farms in Central California’s San Joaquin Valley.

The Golden State’s “Central Valley” is a vast, expansive territory that stretches from the northern tip of Los Angeles County, through the center of the state and up to and beyond the state’s capitol city of Sacramento. If today you were to travel north or south through this region, on either “Interstate 5” or state route “99,” you’d see the influence of bad politics in Washington, and expressions of outrage that Central Californians feel toward their federal government.

Despite the fertile soil of the region, it nonetheless would essentially be a desert if it weren’t adequately irrigated. This means that in order for it to remain a top agricultural producer year after year, it needs a lot of water – and this is where Washington has damaged Central California.

Much of the water that would normally be available to these California farmers has been denied them, because of actions taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In issuing what is known as a “biological opinion” back in 2008 (yes, the problem began shortly before President George W. Bush left office), this government agency utilized the power of the Endangered Species Act to shut-off water supplies to farmers in order to help save the “delta smelt” – a small fish that the bureaucrats believe is endangered because of too much fresh water in rivers and streams.

With this effort to “save”  the delta smelt, tens of billions of gallons of fresh water from the California mountain regions have been diverted away from the valley farmers, and redirected into the Pacific Ocean, all at the hands of Washington bureaucrats. It is a classic and tragic case of radical, out of control environmentalism, and real people and families are having their livelihoods damaged because of it.

California’s water crisis is not “news.” Reports of this looming disaster began to develop in early 2009, and even as far back as September of that year the Wall Street Journal noted that Washington was engaging in a “green war against San Joaquin Valley farmers.” Perhaps most interestingly, Congress has the authority to intervene and override the policies and “opinions” of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but it has refused to take up the matter.

Fast-forward to January of this year. California Governor Jerry Brown declares a “state of emergency,”  announcing that the state is experiencing its lowest level of precipitation in its 163 year history.

A month later, President Barack Obama visited Central California for the first time (truly enlightened elites generally don’t make a “stop” in California’s Central Valley, they merely “fly over” it while traveling between the more sophisticated regions of Los Angeles and San Francisco).  While in Fresno, the President announced $100 million in livestock-disaster aid, $60 million to support food banks and another $13 million for funding water conservation projects and helping rural communities that could soon run out of drinking water.

Did the President offer to lift the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy of sending fresh water in to the ocean on behalf of the “endangered” delta smelt? Not at all.  He did however use the trip as a photo-op to promote his $1 billion “climate resilience” project that he claims will save us from global warming someday.

Natural disasters are often unpredictable, but California’s current drought conditions were made worse with regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. In the winter of 2010 – 2011, the Golden State experienced one of its wettest winters in history – a “once every half-century” season of rain and snow as it was reported. In the spring and summer of 2011 Central Valley farmers sought to capture and store excess run-off water, but the EPA swopped in and forbade it. Thus more of California’s precious and rare natural resource – water – went to waste.

Does America want a government that secures the liberties and interests of its citizens? Or have we grown numb, if not slightly confortable, with a government that places the interests of bureaucrats and alleged “endangered species” over entire industries, families, and populations?

We chose the insanity and destructiveness of our current government.  We can choose more wisely next time, if only we will.



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