The enviro-farmer balancing act

Chairman of the board of Streaminders, a chapter of the Izaak Walton League.
This is an open letter to California Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Douglas W. Moser in response to his May 7 news release entitled, “Farm Bureau to Klamath farmers: ‘You are not alone'":

In your release, you comment that, “The cutoff of water to the Klamath Basin leaves no doubt about the agenda of environmentalists and their allies in federal fisheries agencies. They want to push agriculture out of large parts of the West. It’s not just the Klamath Basin. It’s the western San Joaquin Valley. It’s farmland in Nevada and Idaho. It’s anywhere bureaucrats have failed to balance the needs of people and fish.”

I was deeply offended by this comment. I live in the Sacramento Valley near Chico. Agriculture is one of the foundations of our economy. I have farmers and agriculturists that I consider friends, as do our members. I’ve sat on advisory boards with farmers. I consider myself an environmentalist. I have some understanding of how upset and angry the Klamath farmers must be. We don’t always agree, but that is the nature of these things. These are complex issues.

I’m not saying that I agree entirely with either side in this case. But to say that environmentalists want to eliminate farming is an insult to many people who consider themselves environmentalists.

Your comment attacks people who I am sure are, or were, sympathetic to the Klamath farmers’ plight. As if environmentalists want to eliminate farmers or even have the slight possibility of doing that. We have to eat too!

What we do need to do is work together to achieve a balance. Federal officials are charged by law (they didn’t write the law) with protecting the last few of a species that may well be going extinct.

Diversion of the lion’s share of water is one of the major factors that have brought these species to this situation. Fish, farmers, and environmentalists—indeed, all of us—cannot live without water.

If the balancing has failed, then we as a society need to try again. It’s a long-term goal of working toward a balance of fish and farmers, public use and private use, etc. Painting environmentalists as your enemy has the long-term effect of tending to make them just that. I can’t believe that is your goal.