Farmers in California are losing their land, their crops,and their livelihood because of a 2-inch fish. Ainsley Earhardt brings us this special investigation. Central Valley is considered by many to be the richest and most productive Farmland in the nation. But this land is threatened by the small harmless-looking minnow called the Delta smelt. Recently it has land on the endangered species list prompting a federal court to shut down vital pumps to farmers to help preserve it.
So this is the pumping station and it’s pumped out of the Delta here and brought into his Canal system that makes its way, and there’s actually two that do along together. Sarah Wolf is a spokesperson for the Westlands Water District, the company that oversees the man-made complicated water delivery system in the Central Valley.
Ainsley Earhardt: How many years has this been the process?
Sarah Wolf: It was completed in 1968.
Ainsley Earhardt: Okay. So for a decade all the farmers along all this land.
Sarah Wolf: Two thirds of the state of California have depended on water grow their crops, but the water turned off, so none of these farmers can expect to get any water.
Ainsley Earhardt: Two years ago I wouldn’t be able to do this. This was a gushing water irrigating the farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley, but as you can see, it is all dried up. The pumps were turned off after environmentalist won a federal court case, but at least one lawmaker in Washington is fighting back.
Devin Nunes: Your’re spending 1 trillion dollars and you won’t put in one provision that would create save jobs 60,000 jobs. This is an insult to my constituents
Devin Nunes: What we have today is a man-made drought brought on by laws passed by Congress to where we’re taking the breadbasket of the world and starving it of water to save little fish, which is outrageous.
Green groups claim the smelt are critical to the Deltas ecosystem, and if the Deltas fragile ecosystem were to fail, so would the states water source.
Noah Garrison (NRDC): If we allow the Delta to become polluted or to a lose the, the, or for the health of that ecosystem to collapse, we lose the supply of water for the 23 million people.
But this argument offers little solace for farmers who have watch their land go from this to this (see video images).
Kole Upton (Farmer): This is our lifeline and a, you know, it was a promise by the government. We kept our word and a lot of us feel that to this Congress has reneged on their agreements and on their promises.
Ainsley Earhardt: Cole Upton is third generation almond farmer here and he argues that the American consumers should get ready for produce prices to soar and food scares to become a common occurrence.
Kole Upton (Farmer): Very simply, I want to say, do you want to depend on a foreign country for your food supply. If you think you have problems now with salmonella and trying to find out what part of United States it came from. Think about the problem if you have a food scare and your food is being imported from South America or China or somewhere.
Ainsley Earhardt: Representative Nunes estimates that 37000 jobs have been lost due to the smelt issue and that number is rising higher by the day and in one town Mendota, California, unemployment is up to an astonishing 40%. When you said, I can see the tears in your eyes.
Terry Inch (Farm worker): I’ll cry. this doesn’t make. Nobody wants this. I want a job. If we don’t have water we don’t have jobs.
Ainsley Earhardt: Is this stressful?
Terry Inch (Farm Worker): Yeah it hurts. Nobody likes a handout.
Sean Hannity: Joining us now is our own Ainsley Earhardt. I can’t believe this, because it was little fish, as many as eighty thousand people going to lose jobs. Their shutting off water for farms that have been there for what, generations?
Ainsley Earhardt: Generations, third generation farmer, Sean. Their grandfathers were out there, blood, sweat and tears, making sure those crops were going to grow so you and I would have vegetables and their shutting they think the minnow could get caught or does get caught in the pumps. So now their pumping the water out into the Pacific Ocean instead of streaming it down to the farmers who live in the valley.
Sean Hannity: And their all losing their jobs.
Ainsley Earhardt: Representative Nunes says up to 80,000 jobs could so were talking about lots of jobs. We went to the food bank, the line was wrapped around the block because people don’t have food.
Sean Hannity: All they have to do is turn the water back on.
Ainsley Earhardt: That’s all they have to do. And you know what, now we’re going to have to get our fruits and vegetables from other countries, from Mexico from elsewhere.
Sean Hannity: We might as well, we get our oil and everything else. I’ll tell this is madness, this is madness.
Ainsley Earhardt: It’s fish versus family and their choosing the fish.
Sean Hannity: Their choosing the fish, a 2 inch fish.
FROM THE GREAT AMERICAN BLOG:
Let me be honest: When I get hungry, I walk into the kitchen, wash an apple, slice it and slap some peanut butter on it. Or sometimes I grab a can of almonds, pour a few in my hand and enjoy a little healthy snack. But, never do I think about where the foods are grown or how much work went into growing them.
Recently that changed when Chase (“Hannity” producer) and I flew out to Fresno, California. We spent days visiting farms where nearly 300 crops (fruits, veggies and most nuts) are produced. It was quite a site. We flew above miles and miles of gorgeous, almond orchards and talked with farmers about different issues affecting our foods.
The main concern and the reason for our research is this: Nearly 40,000 farmers in the Central Valley are unemployed because a judge ordered to turn off the irrigation system in order to save a small fish, which is endangered.
The minnow is called the Delta Smelt and it lives in the water, which is pumped into the San Joaquin Valley. Environmentalists complained and a judge ordered the pumps be turned off. But, no water means no crops and no jobs.
In turn, farmers are making tough decisions. They are losing their farms (in some circumstances third generation farms) and forced to fire the workers. Food banks can’t keep shelves stocked because of all the needy families and eventually, farmers say, you and I will feel the effects. We will be forced to eat fruits, veggies and nuts from other countries (with few regulations, pesticides, etc).
Most farmers are screaming “fish over family” and they are stressed, frustrated and fearful. But, environmentalists say the fish needs to be protected and without it the entire ecosystem is in danger. They want the fish to stay in its natural surroundings, not moved to another pond (aka not supposed to be there).
It’s a fascinating story and one that will take a long time to work out. But, no doubt, something has to be done. Watch the story tonight on “Hannity” at 9 PM EST. I’ll be on set with Sean discussing the issue. Thanks for watching!