How many CFWC’s are there in this map?
My last post asked how Bill Wells, head of the Delta Chambers and Visitor’s Bureau could possibly support the agenda of the arguably misnamed California Farm Water Coalition.
Well, the answer is that he can’t. And I feel a need to give Executive Director Wells a bit of airtime here. This should help clarify and amend his less-than-successful attempt at sarcasm, or perhaps my tone-deafness to his subtle use of the style.
But before then, Mr Wells comments led me to ask the question How many separate CFWC’s are there in the entire Valley? I count six, but #3 may be split between #‘s 4 and 5. People who really know could probably count dozens.
From the comments at the Oakland Tribune article is Mr Wells’ thoughtful response to my question, quoted in full below:
John - I was being sarcastic, according to their website: “The CFWC has three primary goals in its mission to positively affect the perception of California agriculture’s use of water and provide a common, unifying voice for agricultural water users: 1. To serve as the voice for agricultural water users. 2. To represent irrigated agriculture in the media. 3. To educate the public about the benefits of irrigated agriculture”.
To the best of my knowledge the CFWC has never come to the aid of Delta farmers many whose families have worked the same land since the gold rush era. Delta farmers have been under attack by the Department of Water Resources and the Bay Delta “Conservation” Plan for years now, seeing their property invaded and vandalized. You would think a group calling itself The California Farm Water Coalition might show some concern about these goings on.
The reality is that all farmers are pawns in this game. The Delta Stewardship Council and the Bay Delta Conservation seek to consolidate the control of all of California’s water into the hands of a few powerful individuals and then sell it back to the citizens at exorbitant prices. It is like (the movie) Chinatown on a statewide scale.
Now that I am aware of Mr Wells’ subtle sarcastic style, I am better able to appreciate and enjoy the rhetorical utility of “you would think that CFWC might show some concern…” Good luck with that, Bill.
Mr Wells’ comments unpack a few important points, but I especially like the implicit point that the CFWC is really a misnomer. For a truer geographical picture of their mission, should they perhaps call themselves the Southern California Farm Water Coalition? An answer might become clearer in the near future as further expression of the diversity of farming self-interest is articulated.
Anyway, to expand on a few of Mr Wells’ points as follows:
1. Farming interests are not monolithic, and tend to adhere with other interests in complex, sometimes issue-specific ways. Like most groups, the various farm groups’ agendas are less about principle and more about self-interest.
2. The issue of property rights for Delta farmers and landowners is as sacrosanct as it is for Rep. Nunes’s (R-Hyperbole) constituents. It’s just that property rights in the Delta align nicely with the fullest interpretation of the Endangered Species Act, whereas they do not in the San Joaquin Valley.
3. Many farmers are pawns in the California’s Big Water Picture. That is the what happens when a place creates an enormous infrastructure of water storage and movement, making the resource a commodity - it’s much more transactional than it is, say, in Iowa.*
4. Chinatown, like the Mark Twain quote about whiskey, fighting and water, needs to be put down. Both have outlived their usefulness, and as kind of soft romantic reflection from the age of abundance, actually do more harm than good.
* 8:43 AM 9/27/11: Revised to emphasize the transactional capacity of water instead of whether/which farmers farm their land vs. trade its water. In all parts of the state, farmers can and do do both.