Unconventional Protest for Water on I-5

June 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Another move by some Valley farmers to draw attention to water woes had many rolling down Interstate Five in their tractors. It also created a potentially dangerous situation for other drivers on the road.Many Farmers say since begging and pleading has not worked, they are now trying some new tactics. Some are passing out stamps that say water now. Even though it's illegal, many have been using them to stamp money. Monday morning dozens of farmers didn't head to their fields, they instead spread awareness on the street.

Bob Diedrich drove his John Deere tractor down the interstate Monday with a backdrop of dried up, yellow fields.

"We're just tired of everyone telling us, congressman, senators, assemblyman, everybody telling us, they are working on it, they are working on it," said Diedrich.

Going an average of 16 miles an hour, Deidrich and many others took their frustration to the highway. The California Highway Patrol says they had no idea of the slow moving protest until a motorist called in to report the convoy.

A CHP officer said, "These tractors were not supposed to be out there. They were not allowed to be out there under these circumstances."

The CHP says two separate accidents happened near the protest on I-5, although investigators say they were not directly caused by the event. Officers say a distracted driver rolled his truck.

For Deidrich, a Westside farmer for 37 years, his normal 11 hundred acre crop has dwindled down to 400. He says through the decades, it's never been so bad.

"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness goes to the fish, not to the people," said Diedrich.

A large event is planned for early July at City Hall in Downtown Fresno. Farmers say they hope to inform every consumer about the water crisis and how it could eventually mean many fruit, vegetable, and other commodities will not be locally grown.

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