[env-trinity] People AND Fish
bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Jun 24 22:06:16 PDT 2009
For Immediate Release
From: Dr. C. Mark Rockwell, D.C.
19737 Wildwood West Drive
Penn Valley, CA 95946-9547
530 432 9198
California State Representative for the Endangered Species
Drought and the San Joaquin Valley
Is it really "fish vs. people" as the Governor and Representative Nunes say?
To listen to all the rhetoric these days you'd think that people are
suffering only because a federal judge and the federal wildlife agencies
decided to protect fish. Representative Nunes and our Governor are calling
it a regulatory drought and families are suffering as a result. Articles in
the L.A. Times and many other papers in California have picked up the story
without really checking on data available from the state Employment
Development Department records. Here is a link that shows the data pretty
However, the raw data doesn't tell the story unless you dig into it. So,
here are some of the facts from the data that brings some clarity to the
issue. Make no mistake; unemployment is a problem in Mendota and Fresno
County. However, it is a problem in almost all of California's agricultural
counties, and Fresno is by far not the worst. If you take the numbers as
given for all counties in California for May 2009, and then look at the 9
previous years as well it is quite revealing.
* For Mendota (the town given as the worst and where the governor has
visited twice to rile against the Endangered Species Act and his claim of
regulation caused unemployment) it shows 38.8% unemployment for May 2009.
* For Mendota, the 9 year previous average is 28.1%. Mendota has led
Fresno County in unemployment for the past 10 years (all I reviewed).
* Fresno County, (Rep. Nunes country, including Mendota) shows 15.4%
unemployment for May 2009, with a 9 year average of 10.5%.
* Of the 18 most agriculture dependent counties in California the
average unemployment rate is 15.6% for May 2009. Seven other counties have
worse unemployment than Fresno (Imperial, Sutter, Alpine, Colusa, Merced,
Yuba and Stanislaus), with the highest in Imperial County in the Southern
California desert at 26.8%.
* Six of the seven with greater unemployment than Fresno are not
heavily affected by the Central Valley Project water cutbacks, and many are
able to compensate via groundwater and use cutbacks.
* Lastly, when looking at the 2008 unemployment figures and averages,
Fresno county has the eighth highest increase in unemployment (2008 to May
2009), meaning seven other counties have a greater increase in unemployment
over the last year than Fresno ( Imperial, Colusa, Merced, Sutter, Yuba,
Stanislaus, Tulare). Six of these have limited impact from Central Valley
Project reductions or are not affected at all by them.
What this data clearly shows is that unemployment is chronic in Mendota
(28.1% average), worsened by the drought, as with all other agriculture
dependent counties The owners of the big farms there are certainly not
sharing their profits well with the labor community that serves them. There
is much to be done to improve their plight, and it should not include
disaster relief from the tax payers (as requested by the Governor and our
DWR director Lester Snow testified before Congress nearly two months ago
essentially saying if there was no court order to protect fish, there would
only be a 5% increase in CVP water to the San Joaquin Valley. This shortage
is drought caused, not regulation caused.
An interesting side note regarding subsidies to these farms. In 1978 the
taxpayer subsidy to the Federal San Luis Unit of the CVP (which supplies
water to the west side San Joaquin) was estimated at $770 million or about
$1,540.00 per acre (United States Bureau of Reclamation figures). Today
that value would be about $5,227.00 per acre using the Cost of Living
Calculator for 2007. Another interesting fact is that people in Madera,
Merced and Fresno Counties received about $132 million in farm subsidies in
2006. People in Trinity County, where the water for the Western San Joaquin
Valley comes from, received $585.00 ( United States Department of
Agriculture figures on the Environmental Working Group's Website Feb 16,
Who really gets left holding the proverbial bag? Of course it is the
federal taxpayer and the public trust. It is time agri-business took more
responsibility for the problem and started to work for a solution, not for
the drought but to help the farm workers they sometimes employ. This isn't
"fish vs. people", it is "fish and people." Both are suffering in this is
the third consecutive low water year.#
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land
415 519 4810 cell
bwl3 at comcast.net
bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)
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