Tuesday, December 11, 2012

News articles and links from December 11, 2012

Water supply

From Bloomberg Businessweek - Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012

Coalition response...This study has several glaring weaknesses in its attempt to define the value of California water. The most glaring is its failure to include the largest share of California's water footprint...water that is dedicated for environmental purposes. This segment of water accounts for 48% of California's total developed water supply. Instead, the report only focuses on the 41% of water that is used to grow food and the remaining 11% that goes to homes and businesses.

Another major weakness is the attempt to place a dollar-and-cent value on the water used in our state without considering the social value. The study repeatedly singles out the water used to produce livestock feed.  Consumer choices include meat and dairy products that most people find a valuable part of a balanced diet. It takes feed like alfalfa, hay and corn to produce meat, ice cream and cheese. These same consumers benefit from the California-grown farm products by paying less at the grocery store than their counterparts in 28 other high-income countries. Americans pay just 6.2% of their disposable income on food and non-alcoholic beverages each year. Those in other high-income countries pay 10.2%, which at the same rate would cost Americans $3,820 more each year (in 2010 dollars) to feed their families (http://www.farmwater.org/foodcoststudy.pdf ).

Also absent in the study are those additional values derived from water used on California farms. Jobs are provided for millions of employees both on the farm and through marketing channels, such as trucking, processing, service and export terminal jobs, with a total economic impact of $112 billion, according to the UC Davis Ag Issues Center. Don't forget that taxes are also generated from these farms that help support local schools and other government activities.

California is the seventh largest economy in the world and any effort designed to shift water use based on economic value is misleading. After all, most Californians would agree that the availability of fresh California-grown fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products far outweigh the taste and nutrition of a "high-value" product such as a shoe or a computer. Readers of this report should realize the value they currently have from the food and fiber grown on our farms and not be fooled into comparing food with other consumer products.


By Steve Shimek
From The Huffington Post - Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

Coalition response...A joint effort by stakeholders in 2004 resulted in the establishment of 50 monitoring stations along the Central Coast to gather information regarding groundwater. Some locations remain a concern and others have shown marked improvement in the years since the monitoring commenced. Some groups, such as The Otter Project, were a part of this effort in the beginning but rejected the results that proved farmers are working to protect groundwater.

Claims that sea otters have died and attempts to connect them to agricultural fertilizers are void of any scientific assessment. It is unfortunate that individuals are allowed to make statements that serve no purpose other than to inflame emotions.

Individuals who are sincerely interested in the Central Coast Water Board's efforts to establish a groundwater monitoring program should closely look at the ongoing efforts of local farmers. During the past 10-20 years farmers have improved their management practices that have resulted in less fertilizers and sprays applied to their fields. The result has been a healthy food supply for all of us. 

Central Coast farmers proposed a program for the Conditional Ag Order that incentivized farmers to adopt new techniques and adopt improvements on their farms, along with an audit and verification process for each farm during the term of the Order. This proposal was summarily dismissed in favor of an onerous regulation that does nothing more than require monitoring and reporting, with no incentives for future investments.


By John Fleck
From Inkstain - Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012

By David Guy
From Water-Food-Environment - Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

(This column was previously published in the LA Times.)
By George Skleton
From Modesto Bee - Monday, Dec. 10, 2012


From Bilingual Weekly - Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012

From SF Chronicle - Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

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