This 1996 report [pdf] on California salmon finds that California "Department of Fish and Game policies instead have the State presiding over a succession of extinctions over our wild salmon runs." Who wrote it? The Natural Resources Committee of California's Senate.
Unfortunately, nobody seems to have read that report, and the people who are benefiting from the water diversions that are killing those salmon (in the rivers) and smelt (in the Delta) are good at maintaining that status quo.
This comment on Senator DiFi and her donor/constituent Resnick (recently famous for telling DiFi to tell the National Academies to study, again, the impact of water exports -- to Resnick's farms and others -- on the Delta Smelt) got my attention:
How might Resnick have earned such willing service from California's senior senator? Might have something to do with the thousands in campaign donations and parties in Beverly Hills and Aspen he's thrown for Feinstein and friends like Arianna Huffington.Of course this is a delaying tactic, but we can't say that those don't work.
[snip... to the sign-off, which I love]
Jackson West imagines Resnick and Feinstein are sleepless with concern for the plight of unemployed migrant laborers and Hollywood starlets who might wither away, malnourished, without anti-oxidant rich bottled juices.
But what about the argument that Ag is important to California and/or more important than fisheries?
Well, DH has this interesting tidbit:
How big is Ag in the California economy? Although the man on the street may say 60%, informed people (like you) say 5%, but I think that even that number is high.So that's $22 billion, right? Not bad, even if it's only one percent of the State's economy.
Look at the 2007 figures from the BEA website. My big gripe becomes clear when you look at the breakdown. Notice that “Forestry, fishing, and related activities” are included in the “Ag” total. Pretty offensive to a salmon fisherman. So, if you divide the state GDP of 1,801,762 (millions) by the AG figure of 22,388, the AG percent is approx. 1%.
But now LC has to come along and demolish even that number, using our favorite irrigation district, the largest in the State:
US gross farm income in 2008 was around $375 billion.Aggies appear to be spending a lot of money on maintaining their subsidies, but those subsidies may be all the money they have to spend. In my paper on "options" for the Delta, I thought that Ag would have no trouble coming up with money to pay for a Peripheral Canal, and I thought that enviros would have a hard time paying ag to not take water. Given Ag's low profits, I may have been wrong, twice.
That's right, $375 billion.
Now Westlands claims $1 billion annually in gross farm income during a normal (whatever that means) year. That means Westlands' contribution to the nation's food supply (and exports) is about a quarter of a percent.
According to this USDA website, Net farm income is forecast to be $57 billion in 2009, down $30 billion (34.5 percent) from 2008. The 2009 forecast is $6.5 billion below the average of $63.6 billion in net farm income earned in the previous 10 years. Still, the $57 billion forecast for 2009 remains the eighth largest amount of income earned in U.S. farming.
Therefore the US gross in 2008 was $375 billion and the net was $57 billion. In other words, the net is about one-sixth of the gross. That means Westlands actually is netting about one-sixth of its claimed $1 billion in farm revenues, or about $150 million a year. Take away the water, power, crop subsidies and you drop that true net increase quite a bit further. EWG estimated Westlands' annual subsidies in 2002 at $110 million a year. That means the true net of the Westlands, when you take away all the government giveaways may be only $30-40 million. Now, if you subtract the anticipated costs of drainage and make Westlands pay for their own waste disposal, they may actually not be generating any true wealth out there at all, except what the government gives them.
Bottom Line: People who fight political battles often cannot win economic battles. Let's see the aggies (and the fishermen and the enviros) put their money where their mouths are. Any other method of "negotiating a settlement" is just an invitation for corruption and destruction of social welfare.