Holy Cow – Cows and their feed are the top users of Delta water

(Photo: George Rose/Getty Images)

Did you know that cows and their feed are the #1 users of Delta water? Even more than the almonds we love to complain about.

Remember those ads about California cows are happy cows and showed cows in the snow in Wisconsin versus happy cows in the sunshine in California? I’ve always said those Wisconsin cows weren’t THAT unhappy and that cows should be raised where there’s enough water! Harris Ranch, for example, is huge.

HOWEVER, orchards are still a BIG problem. I don’t want to focus on which crops/animals are THE WORST for taking necessary water from the Delta. The problem with orchards, versus line crops, is that they cannot be fallowed during dry years.

THE GOAL of the Delta Reform Act included providing EXCESS water for beneficial use. The original concept of the CVP was that excess water could be used for growing crops During drought years, the fields could be fallowed. I don’t know but suppose that it would include some Federal or State aid to farmers for fallowing their fields. That allowed us to have safe, California-grown table produce like beans, carrots, corn, lettuce rather than importing from Mexico, Costa Rica, and elsewhere. Orchards (almonds, pistachios, pomegranates) can’t be fallowed during drought years. The choices are to continue to pump more than the excess water and ruin the Delta environment or overdraft the ground water table and poor communities lose their drinking water (which happened during the 2014 drought). Orchards cause those to be the only two choices. Remaining with line crops instead of orchards gives an alternate, better choice: fallowing the fields in times of drought.

Stanislaus County replaced 1 in 6 of its farm acres with almonds during the 2014 drought. Westlands expanded the almond orchards on both sides of I-5 each year during that drought and have continued to do so. And we know about Resnicks and their pistachios and pomegranates. (They don’t worry as much about water – they are part owners of the Kern Water Bank!)

I would like to see the State come up with guidelines for farmers that are based on water availability and on what is best for America versus the farmers’ current profit-based decisions.

And while cows are bad, I won’t step down from my attacks on orchards (almond and other nuts and pomegranates) in the Central Valley desert fed by Delta water. I’ll need to throw a few more jabs at the cows, as well 🙂 Send them to Wisconsin!

Here’s the article: http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/05/11/cows-not-almonds-are-biggest-water-users.

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