President Obama delivers desperately needed aid to drought-stricken California and its farmers. (Source: KCRA/CNN)
(KCRA/KGPE/KRCR/CNN) – President Barack Obama has announced a new federal initiative aimed at helping farms and communities in California in the grips of a devastating drought.
Mark Borba is making tough choices for the coming year, tougher than he's ever had to make on his 11,000-acre farm.
"California grows 100 percent of the country's processing tomatoes. There will be nothing planted," Borba said. "Zero."
For the first time in its history, the California Water Project, a system of canals and reservoirs, providing water to two-thirds of the people in California, set its allocation for all of them – city and farms alike – to zero.
"California is a major supplier of many of the crops that I grow – lettuce, onions, garlic, processing tomatoes, almonds," Borba said.
Borba's farm gets its water from 500 miles north, from reservoirs normally filled by rain and snow. This year, they are way below normal. What water is there is reserved to maintain endangered species, salmon runs and bird and plant habitats in the Sacramento River delta.
"What's difficult are the inputs that are so essential being subjected to kind of an arbitrary governmental regulation," Borba said.
The government, farmers say, has authority to release more water, but with so many federal and state agencies involved that nothing happens.
The farmers want President Obama to break the log jam and direct agencies to let the water flow.
"For anyone to believe that this devastation is only related to a single season of drought would be untrue," Borba said.
Borba is holding on with what water he has, well water or what allocation he has left from previous years.
Almond trees must be watered, or the loss would be unrecoverable. He uses a very expensive yet efficient drip system on crops he is growing to keep them alive. Still, he expects to cut his hiring by a third this year.
But it can get worse for California farmers – if through drought goes on, what is already tough this year will become devastating.
Copyright 2014 KCRA, KGPE, KRCR via CNN. All rights reserved.
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