The federal jobs bill passed off the Senate floor this week without the contentious rider proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein, which would have weakened endangered species protections in the Delta. Feinstein’s rider was slammed by the media over the last couple of weeks, but it also sparked the release of crucial information from state agencies and universities that has debunked a media myth propagated by the corporate agricultural industry.
As a result of Feinstein’s proposed amendment, the media was able to clear up the misperception that California’s agricultural jobs and productivity have tanked because of recent Delta pumping restrictions.
Data from the California Employment Development Department does not reflect the claims that water restrictions and drought have lead to job loss in the Central Valley. In fact, it shows that farm jobs have barely been affected, losing less than 0.5% jobs from 2008 to 2009.
In regards to the pumping curtailment’s effects on productivity, the LA Times recently wrote, “Growers of major crops such as rice and processing tomatoes enjoyed a bumper year in 2009. Grape production was down slightly, but still among the highest on record. And although photographs of farmers bulldozing their almond groves for lack of water were a media favorite, California had more acres of bearing almond trees last year than ever.”
We hope that with these new facts brought to light, Senator Feinstein will abandon her attempts to undermine endangered species protections, and California can focus on finding real solutions to the water and employment challenges facing our state.