Submitted by Marianne Friers a dairy mom from New York state.
This is a very good question to start this blog-a-day project. Though I had intened to do these posts in about 5 minutes, this one is going to take a little more time.
The simple answer to the question is that feed costs have gone up due to competition from other crops. Another problem arrising from the Delta Smelt issue is farm security. (<-See Rural Crime Unit article) Some areas of the valley have unemployment over 40% as a result of the Delta Smelt and theft, home invasions, and assault are at an all time high in our rural community.
A federal judge in California decided to take water from farmers and give it to a 3″ minnow called the Delta Smelt. The result of this action is what is being called the “Congress Created Dustbowl.” More than 500,000 Acres (781 square miles – an area about half the size of Rhode Island) have gone fallow. That means nothing is growing there. No more corn on the cob, no more spaghetti sauce, no more canteloups, no more chocolate covered almonds, no more garlic, broccoli, peaches, plums, nectarines, pomegranate juice, and, ah, hmmm, oh yea, WINE!! There is nothing growing there now but weeds and I’m not talking about the weeds that grow predominently in Humblot County either.
To quote Investor’s Business Daily, “Yet far from being a paradise, Fresno is starting to resemble Zimbabwe or 1930s Ukraine, a victim of a famine machine that is entirely man-made, not by red communists this time, but by greens.”
For more detail on the California water crisis consult these resources:
The other thing that is not being grown here in Central California due to this regulatory drought is Alfalfa Hay, Wheat, and Corn for Silage. These are three important food items for cows. An uncle of mine used to say, “Buy land ’cause they ain’t makin’ any more of it!” Since nearly a half a million acres of farm land has been taken out of production, farmers are growing less feed for cows and have been chasing other agricultureal markets.
Another major contributer to dairy farmers going broke in California is competition from ethanol plants for Corn. It is my opinon that corn is for cows, not for cars. This is another issue for another day.
Thank’s Marianne for your question. This is a very short answer to an extrememly complex subject but hopefully I have provided enough supporting information for further reading.