Holding signs that said “My job depends on Ag” and “Stop the Water Grab,” Farm Bureau member from Colusa, Glenn and Tehama counties rallied with Central Valley farmers on the steps of the State Capitol, on Monday, to protest Phase 1 of the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay Delta Plan.
Assemblyman Adam Gray, of Merced, organized the event to protest a plan that would initially reallocate about 40 percent of all unimpaired water runoff on the Merced, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus rivers for the protection of fish. In a subsequent phase, the Board proposes similar, additional standards of between 45 and 65 percent in the Sacramento Valley and Delta.
Colusa County Farm Bureau Manager, Melodie Johnson, echoed concerns by the California Farm Bureau Federation that the state’s plan to increase water flow without reducing predation and restoring habitat would likely devastate farmers, and jeopardize food supply, jobs, and drinking water.
“Everyone who uses water in California needs to be efficient, and that includes environmental flows,” Johnson said. “The water board plan would require a lot of water and wouldn’t produce many more fish. There are more efficient ways to help fish.”
Johnson said the Farm Bureau’s position is that the rally was not a “fish versus farm” issue because there is room for both to thrive.
“We can do that without inflicting the harm to people that the board’s plan would demand,” she said. Glenn County Farm Bureau Manager Lisa Humphreys arranged the transportation to Sacramento. Colusa members joined the group at Granzella’s in Williams.
Just over 40 Farm Bureau members from the area attended the rally to raise awareness of the economic effect the plan could have throughout the region.
Members said the rally was a success. The State Water Board was scheduled to vote on the plan this week but decided to push the vote to a future date to allow additional talks between farmers and environmentalists.