Water Rally in Firebaugh drew at least 1,000 people

A rally was called to protest a state plan to divert more water from farms to cities.
March 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
A rally was called to protest a state plan to divert more water from farms to cities. But Governor Jerry Brown killed that plan just before the rally started.

A crowd of at least 1,000 gathered at the rodeo grounds in Firebaugh to hear farm interests, and politicians rally the crowd to fight the government, and big cities for Valley water.

Cannon Michael with Bowles Farming warned the crowd, "They've got their foot on our neck and they are going to keep on going. Its groundwater next surface water is gone today right, groundwater is next they are already talking about it."

Republican State Senator Anthony Cannella said bureaucrats in Sacramento were behind efforts to stop the flow of water to the Central Valley.

"I tell you it's important you are here today," said Cannella. "It's important that you are fighting for your way of life because there are people every day in Sacramento that want to take what's yours."

And Chris White, President of the Central California Irrigation District warned of the dire consequences without water.

White explained, "Not delivering Ag to this area will destroy local economies and the communities that we live in."

It was what the crowd wanted to hear, but the goal is to get the word to those not involved in farming that a lack of water will mean lost jobs, poverty and crime in Valley communities.

Fresno County Assessor Paul Dictos notes that the taxable value of farmland drops without water for the crops, and the impact will be felt countywide.

Dictos told ABC30, "65% of our taxes goes to schools and honestly if there is no money coming in through my assessments there is no money for schools."

Farmer Anthony Nevs was among those in the crowd. He told us he expects to idle some of his farmland because of the drought, and notes, he's already felt the pinch, in the grocery store.

"You know the other day I bought four tomatoes," said Nevs. "I had to go to the store I didn't have any on the ranch they are not growing yet and I paid $5.00. Unbelievable! What's going to happen here when we don't get any water."

The impact of no water to grow tomatoes will also mean, for many, no money to buy them.


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