Farmers Protest California Water Plan Aimed To Save Salmon

Aug 21, 2018
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(AP) — Hundreds of California farmers rallied at the Capitol on Monday to protest state water officials' proposal to increase water flows in a major California river, a move state and federal politicians called an overreach of power that would mean less water for farms in the Central Valley.

"If they vote to take our water, this does not end there," said Republican state Sen. Anthony Cannella. "We will be in court for 100 years."

Environmentalists and fishermen offered a different take on the other side of the Capitol to a much smaller audience.

As the brewing trade war between the United States and China escalates, North State farmers are caught in the middle. Farmers like Bill Carriere, the CEO of Carriere Family Farms and a board member of the California Walnut Commission.

Carriere greeted me outside of his office and walnut processing facility near the small town of Glenn. In the parking lot, we watched as one of his employees loaded crates of walnuts into a semi-truck. Carriere said the truck will be driving these crates to the Port of Oakland. His company ships their walnuts to 25 different countries, including China.

Carriere Family Farms grows twelve different varieties of walnuts. They have orchards in Glenn, Butte and Colusa counties. They also buy walnuts from just under 100 other farms, all north of Sacramento and package the walnuts for global export at their processing facility.

Courtesy of Richvale Writing Group/ Richvale: A Legacy of Courage, Dedication, and Perseverance

Rice has been grown in California for more than 100 years. It’s one of the state’s largest crops – and for many of those who raise it, it’s part of a deeply rooted family tradition.

Most of these rice farming heritages stem from the Sacramento Valley. According to the California Rice Commission the region supplies 97 percent of the state’s rice crop.

Sarah Bohannon / NSPR

Michael McCollough / Flickr, Creative Commons


Some farmers in Northern California and Southern Oregon just learned they’ll be getting 65 percent of the water they’d normally be allotted.

The decision pertains to farmland in Siskiyou and Modoc counties. It’s due to significantly low snowpack and was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.


Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio


Some people claim California's mandatory water reductions let the agriculture industry "off the hook." But farmers don’t see it that way.

The agriculture industry uses 80 percent of the state’s water supply but is not facing any restrictions. But farmers say they've sustained cutbacks in state and federal water allotments the past two years, and will again this year. 

Chris Scheuring is an environmental lawyer with the California Farm Bureau Federation. His family farms walnuts and almonds in Yolo County.