Report claims land fallowing tied to soil and groundwater quality
June 2, 2011
• Says it’s not due to protection for Delta fisheries
• ‘Mapping imagery points toward soil and groundwater salinity as the primary cause’
Fallowed farm acreage on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley is due mainly to soil and groundwater salinization and not restrictions on pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, says a report released Thursday by the advocacy group Restore the Delta and the paper’s author, California Water Research Associates of Santa Cruz.
"Reduced water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley growers are not the primary cause behind fallowed fields,” says Jane Wagner-Tyack, a senior policy analyst for Restore the Delta. “In fact, the majority of San Joaquin Valley lands fallowed starting in 2003 are still fallowed presently, despite west side valley growers receiving 85 percent of their 2011 water deliveries."
The report contends that soil and groundwater salinization is the predominant cause of land fallowing, and says the issue of salinity must be taken into account when one looks at how to ease the effects of long term agricultural unemployment in San Joaquin Valley.
"Mapping imagery points toward soil and groundwater salinity as the primary cause of land fallowing near Mendota. This evidence, along with record of previous legal settlements, indicates that high levels of unemployment in the Mendota area are more likely the result of land fallowing that occurred prior to the most recent drought than any type of protections set in place for Delta fisheries," says Deirdre Des Jardins, a senior researcher with California Water Research Associates.
Restore the Delta' Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla says a bill authored by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, “continues the false narrative of how Delta protections have been the major cause behind San Joaquin Valley unemployment.”
She says job losses in the San Joaquin Valley can be attributed to the crash in the housing market, as well as to the removal of lands from agricultural production that cannot be sustained due to drainage problems.
Comments on this story
Chris Gulick 6/3/11 8:30 AM
I wait with baited (sic) breath for someone with direct knowledge, such as Mike Wade (California Farm Water Coalition), to confirm , deny or clarify these findings.
Without accurate information solutions are impossible.