I’m sorry I argued so hard against the procedural liberals back then.

John Yoo is still an abomination who brings shame to my alma mater, but today I am very grateful for tenure.  Harris Ranch (big CAFO on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley, the one you see and smell at Coalinga*) has threatened to pull $500K worth of donations to CalPoly for bringing Michael Pollan to speak.  Valley Economy found the complaint letter, and was interested in a secondary complaint:

My second issue is of still greater concern, and has provided me with both displeasure and outright anger towards the university. In a recent (09/14/09) phone conversation Mike Smith had with Rob Rutherford in the Animal Science Department, … Mr. Rutherford then had the audacity to offer Mike an entirely unsolicited opinion that water should have NEVER been provided to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. As Harris Ranch operates one of the largest farms in this region, Mr. Rutherford implies that Harris Ranch should not be farming! He went on to offer that this acreage should be converted back to the native forages once found there.

Full respect to Prof. Rutherford. Lest there be any doubt remain about the implication, I will say outright:

Harris Ranch should not be farming on the West Side.
No one should be farming on the West Side.
I don’t know whether it should go back to native forage or be turned into solar power farms, but the West Side shouldn’t be irrigated, which means it shouldn’t farmed.

Even more! Under climate change, I don’t think the junior rights holders on the West Side will get water more than 6 years in 10. If that. If they continue farming, they should stop whining about the other four years (which may happen back-to-back for more than four years.) They should accept that there will be less water in CA, that new dams would catch floods but not yield new supplies and besides will be dedicated to urban uses first, and figure out whether they want to scrape through under those circumstances. If they do, do it and stop whining. If they don’t, figure out how they can extort a good severance from the state, the feds, or someone who will buy their crappy water rights.

Anyway, Prof. Rutherford is awesome. I hope he doesn’t suffer any fallout from this. Also, I am encouraged that the locals around CalPoly SLO, one of the three remaining ag colleges in the state, seem to be Pollan supporters in a meaningless online newspaper survey. Opinions are shifting!

*Coalinga is not a Spanish word, like you might guess after a second’s thought. Coalinga was Coaling Station A. I don’t know whether there were other coaling stations and if they were re-named.


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2 responses to “I’m sorry I argued so hard against the procedural liberals back then.

  1. dfb

    The Water Education Foundation made a long and informative post on the Aquafornia blog today about salinity in the Central Valley. I think it provides good background to why the west side should not be irrigated. http://aquafornia.com/archives/13578

    I think it is also worth mentioning that the west side farmers, for the most part, do not have water rights. Most get irrigation water through contract with the Bureau of Reclamation. However, there are some west side lands along the San Joaquin River that probably should remain irrigated since that land is naturally riparian and does not have the same drainage issues as other areas of the west side. Otherwise, I agree with you and Prof. Rutherford.

  2. RTR

    I wish that Marc Reisner was alive to weigh in on the discussion.