Source: National Cattlemen's Beef Association
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act (H.R. 1837) in a bipartisan vote of 246 to 175. The legislation, introduced by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will end a "man-made drought," which is the result of water intended for California farm and ranch land irrigation being cut off and diverted to the San Francisco Bay in the name of protecting a three-inch minnow, the Delta smelt.
Decades-old water policy in the state of California has ensured that more than 27 million water users in the central and southern regions of California have access to water via a complex network of water storage and delivery systems. However, lawsuits brought by environmental radicals claiming that the water pumps were the primary factor in the population decline of the Delta smelt led to water delivery being restricted and in some instances completely prevented from being delivered to Central Valley farmers and ranchers.
While there are other factors contributing to the population decline of the Delta smelt, the water diversion has resulted in hundreds of thousands of acres of farm and ranch land being left fallow and more than 10,000 farm workers being sent to unemployment lines.
Dustin Van Liew, NCBA director of federal lands and PLC executive director, said while it is important to fix this issue and restore certainty to California farmers and ranchers, this is further proof that it is time to take a look at reforming the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which has not been updated or improved in nearly 25 years.
"ESA was intended to protect species from the endangerment of extinction. Over the years, however, environmental extremists have exploited that well-intended law as a means to achieve their goal of blocking responsible use of land and resources and ending animal agriculture," Van Liew said. "The House Committee on Natural Resources has held a hearing on the costly challenges created by ESA. We encourage the committee to look to this issue as further proof of the need for commonsense, feasible and achievable ESA reforms."