29 Sep 2010

Can politicians overcome bias?

I don't know, but the ones who have been spouting off outdated numbers on lost agricultural jobs from reduced water deliveries to bolster their political agendas (pro- and anti-exports) are going to have a hard time now.

Richard Howitt and Jeff Michael (and others) have co-authored a report [pdf] on the link between jobs and water. The money shot is below...

Now there's only one authoritative estimate on this hot topic, which means that politicians cannot selectively cite the numbers they prefer.

I am glad to see this, and happy to know I played a part in its creation :)

Addendum: Mike Taugher puts this report in much the same context.


  1. It's no surprise that the numbers reflecting agricultural employment and harvested acreage show improved conditions for San Joaquin Valley farmers when factoring in 2009 statistics over previous years. Last year's water conditions improved from earlier years when CVP and SWP water users received increased deliveries through the Delta. These deliveries still failed to reach contract amounts as indicated in the lower harvested acreage totals when comparing 2009 numbers to 2005, the last year of full contract deliveries as stated in the report. More workers returned from unemployment lines in 2009 as farmers increased planted acreage from the previous year. Again, it's no surprise.

  2. The reduced deliveries were beneficial to growers in areas with water. They probaby hired a few more people to grow things that were more ordinarily grown in Westlands, like melons. That's one of the awful things about agriculture, you always want the other guy to die.
    The whole jobs thing was really a red herring, since eliminating labor has been one of the major factors in increased farm productivity in our nation for decades. Since much farm work is both dangerous and exhausting, this is hardly a bad thing. However, it is a valid point to make, that there are manifest third party impacts from regulatory actions. Opponents like to paint Westlands as a bunch of white-guy TV villains, and in that atmosphere it is fair for them to point out that others suffer when they suffer.


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