For Immediate Release: Friday, March 20, 2015
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft; Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053 [email protected]; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta
Exporters Expert Debunks Myth of Farm Jobs Loss.
Drought Worse for Environment than for Farm Jobs
Stockton, CA – Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build water export Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to Gov. Brown’s drought response as “false advertising,” and a Valley economic expert’s finding that the claims of farm job losses by water exporters are unfounded. Water exporters use farm job loss claims to whip up hysteria to overcome fact-based examination of the tunnels. Benefits/cost, environmental impact and other analyses find the tunnels to be a bad investment.
“Governor Brown’s announcement regarding his ‘$1 Billion Emergency Drought Package’ is, to a great degree, false advertising. Most of the funding in the package comes from Propositions 1 and 1E. This is not new funding, and it has already been reassigned several times. Furthermore, the Brown Administration admits they haven’t spent half of last year’s emergency drought money because agencies cannot spend the funds that fast.
“The water exporters have used a business model that depends upon seasonal unemployment. They now use that seasonal unemployment to push for more water as they continue to plant thousands of acres of new almond trees and other permanent crops in the midst of a drought. Turns out they haven’t lost jobs after all,” said Barrigan-Parrilla.
Independent Economist Dr. Jeff Michael, Director for the Center for Business and Policy Research, Eberhardt School of Business, University of the Pacific, released a thorough analysis yesterday of farm job numbers for the third quarter of 2014, the most recent data available. According to Dr. Michael:
“…there is virtually no difference in farm employment between 2014 and 2013 in the 3 counties that are thought to be most devastated by the drought… the impacts of drought are much larger in environmental data such as plummeting fish abundance, than in jobs… this drought is coming in the midst of a strong expansion period of Valley agriculture. The total number of acres irrigated and harvested has been growing every year for most of the past decade, even in the face of scarce surface water.”
“We have complete empathy for those individual workers who have been impacted by the drought, and expect that their circumstances will become more difficult as the drought continues. That is why we support emergency funding to help communities in need to access clean drinking water, food, and other vital needs. However, data indicate that, thus far, the drought is inflicting greater damage on the environment, such as Delta fisheries,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “In times of extended drought, it is impossible to rob Peter of his water to pay Paul without destroying both Peter and Paul. That is why we are calling on the Brown Administration to begin showing real leadership by addressing agricultural use of exported Delta water. Individual efforts to use less water will not net long-term benefit to the State’s water supply, and the Bay-Delta estuary, along with San Joaquin Valley farm communities, will be harmed beyond repair.”
Refusing clean towels during a hotel stay will not put a meaningful dent in the water exports that are putting the Delta and coastal fishing/tourism economies in jeopardy should we lose the Delta smelt and the estuary crashes fully. Not asking for a glass of water in a restaurant will not help farm communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, which have been built on water exports from the Delta, and whose economies carry a high percentage of chronic unemployment each and every year.
“Governor Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board must deal with the five-fold over subscription of Delta waters, otherwise neither the estuary or farm workers will survive,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of RTD.
“The continuing drought shows the folly of the Governor’s tunnels. In the middle of a prolonged drought, the Governor blindly plans to solve our water scarcity by building massive tunnels, when our water supply is decreasing. The cost keeps escalating and the benefits diminishing,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. Restore the Delta pointed to findings of the administration’s own analysis showing the “through-Delta” alternative has the highest benefit-cost ratio of all the options. “The Brown Administration has failed to disclose that California families will pay thousands of dollars, yet receive no new water. It’s time to embrace a sustainable water solution that works in dry times as well as normal water years.”