Controversial Campaign for Water

August 26, 2009 10:29:09 PM PDT
The water crisis has led one Valley organization to air a controversial commercial featuring former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry.The commercial comes from an organization called "Families Protecting the Valley," whose donors include several well known members of the Valley's Ag community.

Alan Autry is a board member, and he says the bold new ad is necessary because the crisis is so severe.

In the commercial Autry said, "Mother Nature didn't cause this drought, the politicians in Washington caused it."

Alan Autry admits this commercial pulls no punches, especially when it comes to the concern about more food being imported from foreign countries due to the Valley's water crisis.

Autry says the commercial is meant to get more people involved in pushing the federal government to permanently turn on the delta pumps that allow water to flow to the Valley's Westside. But he says it is not intended to offend other cultures.

Alan Autry said, "There's no racial intent here, this is just fact. The food supply given to third world countries, they do not have the same regulation or health standards. It is what it is, there is no racial intent at all. It's just fact."

"I think it's based on scare tactics," said Lloyd Carter.

Environmentalist Lloyd Carter says the commercial ignores information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that shows significant percentages of certain foods are already imported.

Carter said, "This is basically fear mongering and misrepresentation of the facts. More than 80 billion dollars a year of food comes into the United States now."

But Sarah Woolf from the Westlands Water District says the commercial fairly represents the frustration of those who are losing their livelihoods.

Woolf said, "This is an ongoing crisis and it's not getting the attention it deserves. It will continue to get worse and the food supply that feeds the nation will continue to deplete."

When we spoke with Autry, he also compared shutting down the delta pumps to domestic terrorism. He acknowledges that some people may feel he's going too far, but he stands by his statements.

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