Monday, March 5, 2012
The Great California Dust Bowl
The First Lady recently traveled to Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas to announce an overhaul of the nutritional and dietary guidelines for the American military. Less fat; more veggies, fruit, and whole grains.
"Don't worry, you'll be a vegetable guy soon," she reassured one reluctant airman. In reality, if that reluctant airman is left to enjoy his patty melt in peace, he'll have an environmentalist to thank.
More than half of the country's fruits, nuts, and vegetables are grown in California, mostly in the San Joaquin Valley. California's share of nationwide crop production is as follows:
Artichokes 99%, Asparagus 44%, Broccoli 92%; Carrots 65%, Celery 95%; Garlic 91%; Lettuce 78%; Cantaloupe 61%; Honeydew 73%; Onions 35%; Bell Peppers 51%; Spinach 72%; Processing Tomatoes 93%; Almond 99%; Apricots 94%; Avocados 85%; Strawberries 92%; Dates 82%; Figs 96%; Grapes 89%; Kiwi 97%; Lemons 91%; Nectarines 98%; Olives 96%; Peaches 76%; Pistachios 98%; Plums 94%; Walnuts 99%; Honey 11%; Milk and cream 22%. (Stats courtesy of Devin Nunes (R. CA-21))
Unfortunately, environmentalist attorneys armed with the Endangered Species Act are starving the fertile farmland in California's great San Joaquin Valley in order to provide habitat for salmon and a three-inch bait fish known as the Delta Smelt. When the rains are abundant, the farmers can bring forth the San Joaquin Valley's bounty; but when rains are scarce, Northern California, with one third of the population and two thirds of the water, prioritizes fish over people and refuses to deliver water to the Valley.
In some San Joaquin Valley towns, unemployment approaches 40%, and unemployed agricultural workers line up at food banks to receive bags of carrots grown in China.
Congressman Devin Nunes (R. CA-21) introduced H.R. 1837, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, to pre-empt the California laws that prioritize bait fish over farmers and farmland and rationalize the usage of California's abundant water supplies. The bill passed the House 246-175, but faces an uncertain future in the Senate. California Senator Dianne Feinstein is dead set against it, and Obama has promised to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.
The San Joaquin Valley's need for water is something that should unite both sides, the Democrats who want us to eat our vegetables and the Republicans and San Joaquin Valley residents who want to go back to work producing food for America's tables. But Obama doesn't need to do anything for California to be assured of its support in November, so he allows the San Joaquin Valley to become a dust bowl in order to please the environmentalists in his base.
The good news is, the First Lady might not be able to scrounge up enough vegetables to turn us all into pale, scrawny vegetarians. The bad news is, that piece of lettuce on your bacon cheeseburger will probably come from China.