The Westlands farmers seethe, and so do I when I hear their tantrums.
To begin with, when the Central Valley Project was taken over by the federal government to bail out the state, the water was designated to irrigate farms no larger than 160 acres and lived on by the farmers themselves.
The water has never been used as intended, though one attempt was made to bring the users into compliance by increasing the acreage limit of each farm to 960 and eliminating the residency requirement. The cost of running the project was to be paid by the users, but the water always belonged to the people of California.
In 1992, those waters were turned into a commodity, which these massive corporate farms are allowed to sell to the highest bidder. Yet these businesses are only out there until they destroy the land with their irrigation runoff – they don’t how to get rid of the salts and chemicals that collect on top of the clay layer underlying Westlands.
You can be sure they will eventually pack up when done and leave us their poisoned fields turned to toxic dust clouds.
Cherith Merson, Fresno