A representative of California-based Harris Ranch, one of the largest agribusiness entities in the western U.S., says they will be forced to idle two-thirds of their 17-thousand acres of farm ground this year due to a lack of water.
Michael Smith testified this week before a House Agriculture subcommittee in Washington.
“In my home state of California, we’re suffering through one of the worst droughts in recorded history,” Smith said. “Make no mistake, however, this drought is made even worse by the actions taken by federal and state governments to restrict the rightful allocation of water to farmers and cattle producers throughout California—especially those in the Central Valley, a region of the state that grows well over half of the fruits and vegetables in this country.”
The issue, Smith says, is the Delta smelt, a three-inch bait fish. He says its listing as an endangered species has “profoundly impacted” water delivery in the state.
“As a net result, this year’s zero—to possibly five percent—allocation of water will result in Harris Farms fallowing over 11-thousand acres of some of the most highly productive crop ground in the United States.”
Smith says they would normally grow tomatoes, onions, melons and other fruits and vegetables on that ground.
In March, A California appeals court sided with environmentalists over farmers and upheld federal guidelines that limit water diversions to protect the Delta smelt.