This is fucking nuts. Republican Representative McClintock is announcing that he and his buddies are holding their own party in Fresno, because the rest of the House of Representatives have told them a bunch of times that they aren’t going to waive the Endangered Species Act, so stop asking already. Fine. I don’t know what their own hearings will accomplish besides political theater, but there’s nothing to stop them. But Rep. McClintock is quoting some one who says that the feds need to lift Endangered Species protections because California is importing food from China to feed our starving workers.
Full Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) [said] “There are serious problem with our Nation’s environmental laws that prioritize fish over people. This is evident when one of the most fertile agricultural areas is importing food from China to feed the needy. If it can happen in California, it can happen anywhere and that’s why it’s important for Congress to travel to the Valley.”
That is straight up gibberish. Believe you me, California is still a huge net exporter of food. Actually, don’t believe you me. Believe the California Dept of Food and Ag, who says that as of two years ago, California exported 28% of its agricultural production. True, that was before the DROUGHT and THE JUDGE SHUT DOWN THE PUMPS!!! But, the amount of land fallowed because the drought and ESA combined was roughly 300,000 acres, or about 3% of California’s ag land. Meanwhile, the most recent California Crop Report shows no signs of a greater than 28% drop in agricultural production. I think I’d have read something about that, if it had happened. I follow the Hanford Sentinel and the Fresno Bee, you know.
Representative Hastings, whose constituents should be embarrassed that he represents them, seems to be relying on this picture for evidence that California’s needs food from China to feed itself. He can reassure himself with actual data about carrots; looks like California grew 16,700 acres worth of carrots this fall alone. Never fear, Rep. Hastings! Protecting the Delta Smelt does not threaten the nation’s carrot supply!
More seriously, I actually do think the food security is a legitimate issue. Some environmentalists think it is an absurd excuse to give more money to agribusiness. They think agribusiness is plenty secure already. Some economists think that our best food security is having big dollars, so that we can go buy food on the world market if we stop producing it. But I worry a little. Not in the short term, but I think a combination of levee failures in the Delta that shut down the California aquaduct altogether and groundwater overdraft in the SJV could mean a very sharp and abrupt decrease in the amount of water available to farming in the San Joaquin Valley. I don’t think that is a particularly far-fetched scenario. If that happened during a worldwide drought (also no longer farfetched), there may not be all that much food for us to buy, and the rest of the world will also want it. I’d feel a lot better with food in my (extended) backyard than cash in the bank. I think that since we are so rich, we should pay to maintain that kind of security and assurance here at home. But at current levels of production, we are a huge exporter and we have so much extra that we can grow a million acres of grains to feed to animals. That’s a million acres of production that could provide about ten times more food for humans, should we need it.
The other reason Rep. Hasting (and Rep. McClintock by extension) have that fear completely backwards is that you know who faces a huge food security problem? China. They sold someone a box of carrots, true. But China is so worried about feeding itself that they’re buying up Africa as a breadbasket. I love that kind of longterm vision. Respect to China. But basically, every aspect of that justification for the pretend-Congressional hearing is backwards. California produces more than plenty of food for itself. China is never going to be an important food source for Californians; they’re rightfully worried about feeding themselves. And these representatives don’t give a fuck about food security anyway. They want to get rid of the Endangered Species Act and make not-even-specious arguments about its harms. Whatever, dudes. Enjoy your fake hearings. The rest of Congress will never care about them.