About 2-3 times a year, I drive the I-5 from the Bay Area to Los Angeles to visit my family and every time I get irritated by the same three things:
1. Drivers who insist on endangering my life as well as theirs just to get a car or two ahead;
2. Those poor cows at Harris Ranch. A large cow farm situated right by the freeway where the cows eat out of troughs and don’t seem to have enough shady areas to sit. I could not see any signs of grass there. The cows seem to sit around on the dirt, in the heat and inhale exhaust fumes all day. I always wonder whether justice will be served if the owner is one-day be reincarnated as a Harris Ranch cow?
3. The “Congress Created Dustbowl” signs – these are signs posted on farms presumably protesting the amount of water allocated to local farmers.
The third item is the one that upsets me the most. Congress cannot create a dustbowl if it tried, and no I am not commenting on Congress’ capabilities.
How can someone start a farm in semi-desert area and expect everyone else to cater to their water needs? The problem of reduced water allocation seems to be exasperated by three different trends: a growing California population means less water availability, drought conditions, and environmental protections for certain fish which limits the amount of water that can be diverted for human usage. California’s water issues are complicated and I cannot hope to understand them remotely well enough to explain them here, I am probably just skimming the surface with the three issues I outlined above. This article from Associated Press has a decent explanation of the issues. However, I do know this: no one can build a farm in the desert and expect it to be sustainable – not just for the environment but also as a business. It’s time we farm responsibly and that includes growing crops in places those crops can grow naturally with minimal human intervention.
Next time I drive the I-5, maybe I should post some, “The Dust Bowl Was Here First” signs.