Farmers definitely not off the hook

Published: Sunday, Jul. 20, 2014 - 12:07 pm

Re "Overwatering is a crime, but not for all Californians" (Editorials, July 17): It's absurd to claim farmers have been let off the hook during the drought. Before it adopted rules on urban use, the State Water Resources Control Board issued curtailment notices to thousands of water right holders -- mostly farmers -- requiring a complete cutoff of water, with fines of up to $1,000 a day for violations. Remember, farmers use water to grow food, a basic necessity. Despite this, farmers are typically the first to have their water cut back. This year, many received no water from surface reservoirs, leading to strains on groundwater that could be greatly relieved by investment in additional water storage. Farmers grow the crops that people want and need. During the Great Recession, farming was one economic sector that kept generating productivity and jobs. Now, it's suffering the most from drought, with 17,100 job losses and $2.2 billion in economic damage. Off the hook? Yeah, right.

-- Paul Wenger, president, California Farm Bureau Federation, Sacramento

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