Letter: Respect California agriculture

Today, my mother (yes, she is a full-time resident, and I’m a former Aspen resident and Colorado State University grad) sent me a cartoon from your April 7 edition. The cartoon lambasts California agriculture as a “pig” sucking up 80 percent of the state’s water. Ironically, today I also received a letter from my irrigation district showing me our new allocations based on an additional cutback.

I have my own small farm out here of about 200 acres. I also manage the farms for my family’s tomato business. We grow tomatoes from Palm Springs to Gilroy. Thus, I am well aware of the trials and tribulations of water in California.

First off, 50 percent of all water in California is dedicated to environmental causes! Fifty percent! We farmers use about 80 percent of what is left over. So, we use about 40 percent of the water in California, or half of what your cartoon depicts.

While the urban dwellers have never faced water cutbacks before, those of us in agriculture have faced cutbacks ranging from 25 to 100 percent. That’s correct — there are hundreds of thousands of acres of fallow land with a zero water allocation.

We may provide only a small percentage of the money for the state’s economy, but California provides 99 percent of the almonds and pistachios in the U.S. Ninety-three percent of all canning tomatoes are grown in California, and we are the second-largest source of fresh tomatoes in the U.S. The list goes on and on.

As the bumper sticker says, “Don’t criticize a farmer with your mouth full!”

Jeff Dolan

Atwater, California