May our March blow in like a lion and not go out like a lamb. MCFB is anxiously praying for rain in some form of miracle march –and the outlook is optimistic after the second week of March that we will receive some decent rain. Unfortunately, our snow pack is all but lost –as are the chances for building it for 2015’s irrigation season. Tough choices are ahead –as even the most miraculous March could not replace a decent snow pack. The meager surface supply we have left may not even last through May, depending on the temperatures, and much of what we have will be moved through Madera County and on into the Delta to prevent high salinity and temperatures from damaging the ecosystem there. Like it or not –these are the realities agriculture faces in 2015; a resource scarcity of epic proportions, coupled with many other competing agendas statewide for that water. I know I’m preaching to the choir.
Throughout this extended drought, one can’t help but notice that real solutions have yet to present themselves by way of legislation or policy change. The State legislature’s grand overture of passing reformative groundwater policy is aimed at addressing a bleed in our agricultural practices, but not stopping the knife from causing the bleed. The Federal actions thus far have resulted only in political punditry, all dying silently in the Senate. What’s far more ominous however –is that the statewide water bond initiative –having barley passed with paltry surface water storage funding, now appears that any immediate promise of said surface water funds will be “re-dedicated” to other intangible uses. Because of the way proposition language is written –regardless of how it’s sold to voters, there is far more fluidity in designation of purposes contained within the statutes. Note to self –propositions = blank checks, so if it smells like a turkey, it is a turkey.
The Central Valley’s heartbeat –agriculture –continues to be muffled and stifled until it may at last die out. Agriculture –which so clearly depends on the lifeline of water, has all but been cut down to an island of self-sufficiency and isolation. Which, in turn, either leaves us to wither and die –or turn on our survivor mode. I suggest survivor mode, but with a twist.
One of the most awe inspiring thing for me in this business continues to be our self-sufficiency and intensive skill at what we do so well. It’s not just about putting the right pieces of our business in place –but the continued care we give to ensuring that our businesses efficient and profitable. Harness this and we can unite to do anything –the possibilities are endless.
Those possibilities include unifying to protect our own Madera County born resource –surface water and groundwater. In uniting to make the tough decisions to build our own dam (it CAN be done with enough patience, coalition support and money), along with agreeing on tough regional groundwater allocations, we can beat those who would have us fail and then some. These proposals have been on the table for many years –and can be nourished, developed and grown –both in the immediate and long term. But the time is now –or never. Our window of self-reliance is rapidly closing, as are the options available to us.
The Madera County Farm Bureau cherishes your membership, and we hope to continue advocating for as many of you as possible in the future. But without water, I’m sad to speculate on how many happy faces I may have the pleasure of seeing and meeting in the years to come. The Farm Bureau has a water advocacy donation fund available to you as members –for which you are always free to designate your intended advocacy towards the many endeavors that may keep us all in business.
Anja K. Raudabaugh