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Newsletter: It Takes Water To Make Mud

The 15,000 farm families do not consider themselves as separate from these communities.

Mar 13, 2010


FPV newsletter clip art V
Volume 2 Issue 20                                                                         March 13, 2010
In This Issue
It Takes Water to Mke Mud
Mark Borba
Farmers, Your Name Isn't Mud
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We would like to join the discussion below between Fresno Bee Columnist Bill McEwen and West Side Farmer Mark Borba.  The East Side of this valley was settled in response to the building of Friant Dam.  Some one million acres having surface water from the Dam allowed the establishment of a robust society of farmland with embedded communities of one & 1/4 million people.
The 15,000 farm families do not consider themselves as separate from these communities.  We are part of them  Just look at who has been the mayors, city councilmen, planning & recreation commissioners, volunteer youth coaches, church deacons, members of community clubs, and so on ad infinitum.
Mr. McEwen needs to recognize that is not just the farmers who are under attack by the fringe environmentalists and their toadies in government, it is our entire community and economy.  Under the guise of saving the environment, many of these ideologues and organizations have the ulterior motive of decimating areas of California that support traditional conservative values and lifestyles.  The are doing this by depriving these areas of the means to continue their productive enterprises.  The desired result appears to be the establishment of a permanent California majority who relies on the government for their sustenance and will vote accordingly.
Board of Directors
1. Saint Agnes Hospital: It was the Westside pioneer Diener Family that donated the land for its construction on Herndon Avenue. The significant donors from agriculture who have made SA what it is today include names like Giffen, Reeves, Harris, Britz, Smittcamp, O'neill, Woolf, Lowe, Rank, Diener, to name a few,and the list goes on. 2. Childrens Hospital: The Guilds responsible for starting and funding the many expansions of CHCC were headed up by matriarchs of the Westside ag families. Names like Thomas, Telles, Diener, Pucheu, Jones, Sample, Shannon, and the list goes on. 3. Community Medical Centers: An equally impressive ag supporters list too long to mention. 4. Fresno State University: Do the names Shehadey/Ricchiuti ring a bell?

Additionally, the generous donors from the farm communities who elect to remain anonymous (not needing to see their names up in lights) are substantial. Seven figure checks have been written to these institutions and others without fanfare. Finally, the good work of community organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Community Food Bank, Margie Mason Center, Hines Hospice, Povorello House, Fresno Arts Museum and the list goes on, have been generously supported by the ag communities. Before you say the ag community needs to step up, check the history...and the current-day leadership in philanthropy in Fresno.
mud crop
nefit that they talk a lot less about how tough they have it and start bragging about how well they do. The truth is agriculture has been one of the best performers in California's economy since the housing bubble burst and recession began, according to state statistics and a University of the Pacific economist who has made a point of highlighting this issue. Yes, there are some farmers, such as those on the west side of the Central Valley, who have been waylaid by drought and environmental restrictions. But, as a whole, farmers are better off than construction workers, real-estate agents and laid-off public employees. The big-picture view for California is that we should thank our lucky stars that all of our productive farmland hasn't been turned into subdivisions and parking lots. Otherwise, our economy would be a worse mess. But you wouldn't know it from the Dust Bowl landscape of Valley agriculture painted by farmers and ally politicians. Like the farmer who drives an old pickup lest someone think he's making a buck, they peddle fear and pestilence. And with competition more intense than ever for water the one thing farmers can't do without this is a terrible message. In fact, it's the wrong message. People who believe it will conclude that the industry is doomed and doesn't deserve our support. Instead, agriculture should talk about how important it is to California and the Valley. It should talk about the value created by adding water and know-how to soil. And it should point out that farming is one of the few industries capable of plodding ahead in difficult times.
There's something else farmers need to do besides bragging more, complaining less and telling the real story. They need to show that they're worth the irrigation water sent their way from the Sierra snowpack by investing more in their local communities.
You'd think that the nation's richest farm-producing region would have a world-class agriculture museum, but it doesn't. You'd think that the "Growers" name would be affixed to a hospital or even the football stadium at Fresno State, but it isn't. You'd think that Westlands Water District would've figured out long ago that if it wants access to water from other parts of the state, it should take more pride in the well-being of the towns in its district. Westlands has been successful, but you wouldn't know it by the quality of life in Mendota and Huron. Farmers have a choice. They can complain. Or they can talk about their importance to California's economy and justify the taxpayers' continued and considerable investment in their industry. Should they keep talking about hard times and Dust Bowls, they'd better prepare for the day that someone believes them. When that happens, Farm Bills will die and canal gates will close. Even the dumbest of politicians knows it's foolish to throw good money much less good water after bad.


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