Congress created a dust bowl?

2009 June 1
by Stace

Driving up and down I-5 in California the past few days, I have seen several of these signs along the road.

I know Congress is capable of really screwing things up but creating a dust bowl seems beyond even their powers. What’s up with this?

Great caption goes right here

Congress is extending their powers?

99 Responses
  1. 2009 June 2

    I’ve seen these too and when I first saw your picture, I thought that it meant to say “Congress-created dust bowl.” with the hyphen, implying that Congress created the “dust bowl” right?

    Which I’m sure you already figured….but then I looked it up online and found this, confirming what I thought:

    But we could all be wrong and it could be some code to all the “al-quedas” like comedian Harlan Williams says. LOL

  2. 2009 June 2
    punxxi permalink

    i would think it meant that congress paid them not to grow anything there

  3. 2009 June 2
    Dora permalink

    Actually they are referring to the fact that Congress has put a 2″ fish that was imported to California on the Federal Endagered List.

    Because of this fish there are thousands of people being put out of work and farmers losing their farms because they can no longer get the water they need to grow their crops.

    All of the areas you saw that looked like desert lands, used to be green and growing crops. Crops that feed america. Now they are just wasted lands.

    Here is a vido clip from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox that talks a bit about it.

    • 2009 September 25
      Anonymous permalink

      I just drove up from LA to Gilroy and saw several of these signs. Yes they’re in the middle (technically on the edge) of what appears to be waste land. But a mile up the road are thriving orchards and cotton and other crops. The Central Valley is hardly a dust bowl, although clearly something is happening. It also seems like if the problem is a protected fish, (and I would like to see other sources, not just Fox) the signs might be more specific.The EPA has far less power than it used to.

    • 2009 December 19
      ksh permalink

      Hmmm. Not just lack of water, but the lack of proper farming techniques. The cheapest way is to plow the ground bare, leaving the top soil open to removal by wind, but hey, there are smarter farmers that don’t plow the ground bare, thus reducing “dust bowl” risk.

    • 2010 January 5
      truthdude permalink

      Maybe, just maybe, 5 years of drought has more to do with it. Check out the Hanford Sentinel – last week they ran an article entitled “Another Westside farmer sells water rights” (to developers in Irvine so they can build houses).

      The most interesting thing in the article is that the land these people are farming doesn’t have any water. Their entire business model is dependent on getting water from somewhere else.

    • 2010 February 22
      Desert Dweller permalink

      So for a little bit of “Fair and Balanced” I offer you some Jon Stewart…

    • 2010 May 13
      country gentleman permalink

      what it boils down to is a itty bitty fish with a great big lawyer

  4. 2009 June 2

    I guess I’m just going to have to believe Dora, because there is no way I think I can watch Sean Hannity without throwing up on my keyboard.

    • 2009 August 13
      Billy Proulx permalink

      May how open mind of you.

  5. 2009 June 3
    limericc permalink

    @Salena of The Daily Rant
    I’m with you on that.

  6. 2009 June 3

    So that’s why they seemed all pissed off.

    Considering the current state of California’s economy, you’d think maybe Congress would put the poor people who live there on the endangered list.

  7. 2009 June 5

    So sad to see.

    Water politics are extremely complex, and can’t be simplified to a 2″ fish causing all this mayhem. It is part, but far from all. I think it just makes good radio/tv. The use of thousands of acres for houses and golf courses and the rights of LA to all the Colorado River water before agriculture gets their share is also at the top of the list. I studied water politics in college in Arizona; it is the most contentious legal battle ever in the West – which has limited water and a fast growing population.

    Seeing all the orchards and crops in the Central Valley was one of my favorite parts of running up and down CA. So sad to lose groves that took decades to develop.

    • 2009 July 30
      Lyd's Law permalink

      It’s not a 2″ fish that’s caused this? You haven’t been in California long….

      California would close down an entire Interstate if they found that there was a delicate mold growing in the area.

      I’ve been involved in/following California politics for years…. the liberals are running the show now. I’ve changed my residence to Texas where people are ‘for real.’

      • 2009 August 24
        Aaron permalink

        Yes texas, the state where they’ll call you a pedophile, take your kids away and try to charge you with 20 years just for breast feeding.

      • 2010 May 25
        Good Riddance permalink

        It’s not just the delta smelt. It’s the fact that the rivers that the delta smelt needs are being dried up and degraded. Those rivers are also essential to the Salmon and Steelhead that spawn there. …and you can’t play the “poor people who want to make a living card” because there are plenty of poor fishermen on the coast who depend on those salmon to make a living. Billions of tax dollars have gone to drastically alter the hydrology of California and provide subsidized water to the central valley farmers. Now that water is needed elsewhere and it’s needed immediately. Once those salmon runs are destroyed and once those delta smelt are extinct, they are gone forever.

        By all means, please pack up your knee-jerk anti liberal nonsense and head off to the Alamo. I promise I won’t try to stop you.

      • 2010 July 12
        Paul K permalink

        How is the federal government diverting precious water resources to central valley farmers anything but a federal government handout? And then, when the water gets rationed due to drought, or they even raise the price to get closer in line to the actual costs of pumping the water 300 miles to the farms, the agri-business welfare queens get their panties in a bunch. Yeah, go to Texas, where welfare for corporations is more strongly supported.

    • 2010 May 15
      Anthony permalink

      Water politics gave more than half our states their boundries, Pretty important imho.

  8. 2009 June 5
    Cindean permalink

    It’s ironic for them to say that Congress created their “dust bowl.” Just look at the median on I-5 right next to the bare dirt plowed by the farmer. It may be dry grass during this time of year, but it certainly isn’t a “dust bowl.”

    • 2009 August 23
      JWinOC permalink

      The “dust bowl” plots are all freshly disked to make sure that they blow lots of dust in the wind.

  9. 2009 June 9

    I know that coming from southern Missouri where we have streams and rivers every few miles and almost all rural people sink a well for their water, I was astonished to discover that you could buy land out west that did not include “water or mineral rights.”

    Not 100% sure what water rights includes, but if it means you have no right to the water on (under) your property I wonder what those people do for household water?

  10. 2009 June 15


    I’m not sure Congress created the drought.

    This is another way for right wing politicians to blame enviro’s for the states water/jobs crisis.

    THis is mother natures fault folks.

    • 2009 July 19
      Keep the change permalink

      Your an Idiot!….I have been to 15 reservoirs in the last 2 months here in northern California and all of them are at FULL capacity. Caples Lake, up the HW88 corridor had to be drained to repair the damn last year….Its full, along with every other reservoir down river from it. Don’t believe your liberal media, and its counterparts. Go look for yourself! You will see there is no drought.

      • 2009 July 19
        Billy Joe Bob permalink

        Damn those liberal media outlets! Especially the ones owned by all those flat-broke, stinky, barefoot, tree-hugging hippies!

      • 2009 July 30
        stanman permalink

        a couple of clicks will quickly inform you of the truth about Cal’s resevoirs: Shasta and Oroville which are by far the largest in the state are way below normal. Do some research other than looking out your car window as you drive by!

      • 2009 October 11
        ann permalink

        I don’t know which reservoirs you’ve seen, but the ones in the San Jose Area are the lowest I’ve seen

      • 2010 January 5
        truthdude permalink

        Seriously, how rude. And how about being truthful? Check out:

        I’ve got a friend that works for the State managing water and all the reservoirs are down. Not sure which 15 you looked at. Do you have statistics/measurements that dispute what the State is reporting? If so we should try to get their data corrected.

      • 2010 May 12
        James Reitano permalink

        And Congress were the ones responsible for the 1933 Central Valley Project, otherwise those farms would have never existed!

    • 2009 July 30
      Lyd's Law permalink

      Why does it have to be ‘right-winged’????? You are an uneducated idiot and need your computer confiscated IMMEDIATELY!

  11. 2009 June 15
    dkuhlman permalink

    Yes it used to be green, back when they got subsidized water. And, if they cannot get government money to pump the water in for them, then their business model probably does not work.

    I recently drove I-5 and saw all those signs. I also watched a pickup truck driven between those fields and saw the plume of dust. Why? Because that’s desert. If you do not put water on it, even weeds have trouble growing there.

    There is no local water. So, you have to ship water in. That costs money. The Ag industry is mad because they are not getting enough cheap water at tax-payer expense.

    And, the claim that we’re losing jobs is bogus. The jobs that are being lost are minimum wage jobs. And, agriculture in that area is highly mechanized. So, using tax-payer money to support an industry that does only makes business sense with tax-payer subsidized water is an inefficient way to create minimum-wage jobs.

    Therefore, maybe we tax-payers should be thankful if a crummy little 2-inch fish slowed this down, because our elected representatives certainly can’t stand up against the Ag industry.

    • 2009 August 13
      Billy Proulx permalink

      You attitude toward minimum wage earners is elitist. Do you want the U.S. to depend on food from other countries?
      You do not speak for the tax payers, you speak only for the professors who brainwashed you!

      • 2009 September 4

        dumb hillbilly, you speak bad engrish! Regardless of your point, you sound like a todler. I think the dude above you wins.


        besides, I think both sides are to blame, as is true in most cases.

        • 2009 November 21
          sincynthia permalink

          You mis-spelled TODDLER. Who’s the Dumb Hillbilly now Mr. Plant?

  12. 2009 June 20
    Barry lawhorn permalink

    @James Reitano – you need to read june 20 2009 bakersfield californian page b1 has whole article on congress dust bowl man made state ordered pumps turned off to save a 2 in fish. And quit blaming right wing since they stated what the democrats wont becouse a stupid fish is more then jobs,food but that ok we can eat the 2 in. fish and then turn the pump back on.

  13. 2009 June 20
    Doug permalink

    That land was a dust bowl when the businessman bought it. The signs are a rich guy’s whining that we the taxpayers are not providing him with subsidized water. The other little problem is that these lands leach selenium when they are irrigated – selenium that poisons the ag runoff into local rivers and wildlife lands. Again, us selfish taxpayers are refusing to pay for a way to treat and discharge this poison into the ocean.

    So basically, these signs are saying that us taxpayers are refusing to bail out the rich corporate landowners who knew perfectly well what they were getting into – a landscape so dry that it can support part-time cattle grazing at the best of times. Typical rich person response to having to face the folly of their own making: get the taxpayer to bail them out.

    • 2009 August 13
      Billy Proulx permalink

      What do you think should be done about the rich guy whiners, Dave?

  14. 2009 June 24


    It is a dust bowl in the making. The crops are dead, the trees are dead and the grass is dead. Its only a matter of time until it is a dust bowl. And what about the creatures that live in those massive fields. They are also put out by the fish.

  15. 2009 June 26
    David Ryan permalink

    The land was not always arid. The Central Valley is the natural drainage of streams and rivers running out of the Sierras. Tulare Lake was once the largest fresh water lake in the west. It is gone due to ground water pumping. Water has always been a contentious issue, blood was shed over it. California once the breadbasket of the US will become the empty basket as more land becomes unarrible and we import more produce from Mexico and South America.

  16. 2009 July 4
    Jason Sebring permalink

    I just drove up and down 5 from San Jose to San Diego and saw these signs everywhere and read all these posts. I have been up and down 5 probably 30 times in my life since the early 70′s. I have never seen it look so dry and what I haven’t seen talked about here is how the lack of water is effecting the air quality as well. I couldn’t take my shades off for 5 minutes. Without crops, these dust fields will just blend in more with the smog and just make the air worse. Granted farming equipment and the big cities fall out hurt the air in the valley as well. I’m no expert, but can’t they just capture and breed the minnow and introduce them past the pump that they say is killing them? This is silly and sad, how can the lives of these multigenerational farmers be less important than the fish? And for the Only in California. Sometimes I really am embarassed to be a native.

    • 2009 August 23
      Dave Stein permalink

      I don’t think we’re talking about multigenerational farmers here, rather agribusinesses with corporate control. The “dust bowl” and dry fields are strategically placed by the freeway for political reasons. Furthermore, think of the fishermen who are losing their livelihoods due to the millions of salmon fry that are pumped from the delta waters to central valley farms. The salmon fisheries in California were CLOSED for two years due to habitat loss directly related to pumping water to central valley farmers. The NWF sued the federal gov’t and won concerning this issue. Check out Central Valley NWF vs NOAA. This is a serious matter and these accusations against “congress” are just a whiny way of these central valley agribusinesses refusing to change their ways. They need to adopt more water conserving practices. If the central valley was full of small farmers, say 1000 acres or less per farmer, then we would not have these issues.

      • 2009 August 31
        west coast girl permalink

        Exactly right. We drove through the Central Valley today. It was 105 degrees (according to the weather service. It felt hotter), and the sun was still overhead at 4:00 pm. But we could see irrigation (“sprinklers”) of the orchards as we drove by. How much of that water was simply evaporating into thin air? The average homeowner knows to set his sprinkler system so that he’s not watering his lawn at the hottest part of the day, but the industrial farmers in Central Valley don’t know it.

        Rather, they don’t care. They’ve been given access to cheap water for so long, they’re sloppy and lazy with this precious resource. They’re worse than Los Angeles homeowners that people love to mock because agricultural consumption of water far exceeds that of consumers. They use a lot more, so if they’re wasting water, they’re wasting far more. The gravy train should have ended years ago. It’s about time someone pulled the plug.

  17. 2009 July 6
    rlintw permalink

    The signs are very noticeable, but what I also noticed was that the farmers only stopped growing on those portions of their land that were closest to the freeway, where the visual impact was greatest. Every one of the signs was on bare land but not too far away from higway, crops were still growing. Obviously, there is still water available and obviously, the protesters want to call maximum attenion to their issue. If the restrictions on the water caused them to have to pay more for the water they receive, reducing yield is one way of compensating. Perfectly reasonable. They’ve just chosen to make a public case of their issue by using I-5. They could have just as easily chosen other parts of their acreage to lay fallow.

    Let’s hope no one is injured in an accident caused by blowing dust from their stunt.

    And Doug and others here are exactly right. This isn’t about some two inch fish. No amount of simplisitic pontificating from Fox News will make it so. This is about businesses who are no longer getting the same amount of water they used to get because there is a drought in California and there are other needs for that water as well, including all fish. The water is a resource and when that resource is scarse as it is now, it gets harder on everyone. This case was adjudicated and the businesses did not prevail. So they have taken their unhappiness to the highway.

    I love the irony of the signs as well. “Congress created dust bowl.” I guess there should also be signs along there that read “Congress created highway” and “Congress created irrigation system”.

    • 2009 July 7

      “Congress created highway” That’s a good one! I don’t expect to snap a pic of that sign anytime soon though. Nice post, rlintw, and welcome.

      • 2009 August 23
        Chcksum permalink

        Yeah and how about “congress created central valley water project” or “congress created agricultural subsidy”

    • 2009 August 23
      Dave Stein permalink

      congress created aqueduct

    • 2009 August 24
      Kat permalink

      Excellent post! Thank you. Agribusiness and other mindless Californians (think: green lawns in LA) may want to twist the truth but the fact is Congress DID create the highways, which we all enjoy. And those farmers ARE choosing to keep growing away from the highway, which I noticed on my drive last weekend, yet plowing up the dust near the road. Disgraceful. Any time an endangered species is recognized, there’s always a hue and cry about all the jobs to be lost and how the tree-huggers are ruining the world. But killing off species of any kind disrupts the natural order of this world we treasure and people can and do get other jobs or otherwise find creative solutions to problems they face. These farmers are being anything but creative with their sad dis-information campaign. This is the same ole thing… big business crying poor when in fact, Americans have been subsidizing their profits for decades.

  18. 2009 July 7 permalink

    300 years ago, before there was a canal system, the area was certainly no dust bowl. There were all kinds of natural plants that grew without human cultivation from the water that was available.

    What created the “dust bowl” was removing those natural plants and replacing them with open fields on which crops were grown with water that was artificially pumped into the environment. When that artificial water source dried up, for whatever reason, the lands that had been artificially cultivated started turning into “dust bowls”.

    Therefore, the “dust bow” was actually created by the farmers who destroyed the natural environment for their short-term profits. Now the environment and those profits are both gone and they want the tax payer to pay to pump more water into the area so they can grow crops, which they can then sell for more profit.

    Once again, we see that socialism (tax-payer provided water for farmers on land that is not naturally suited for growing crops) has a negative effect in the long-term.

    • 2009 November 23
      RN92945 permalink

      Blame the victim :=( So sad to see this bent to punish the people trying to provide food for our country. The small farmers band together (or loose their land to taxes) and local governments offer incentives for the farms to keep their votes. When it appears they are doing well and the crops are flourishing, it’s time to “pull the plug” and let it all die on the vine. That’s very satisfying to environmentalists who want the Human race to regress back into caves. How frustrating to the generations of farmers who are trying to provide jobs, make a living and rise above all the insanity! Can’t they really negotiate a workable compromise? Is it always my way or the highway? Do we al have to appear as such a bunch of losers?

      • 2009 November 27
        Zazadance permalink

        Wow love reading all your well read posts here! The poster above speaks of compromise after making some ridiculous accusations. Anyone that uses a fox(faux) news source get no cred in my book. I only saw 3 signs going from sf to la in back today , it was raining and there were beautiful rainbows. No dust today!

  19. 2009 July 8

    It looks like part of that water, at least, is going to help salmon and steelhead reproduce enough to prevent a total collapse of a fishery. So, in other words, the farmers think that they should have all of the water and screw the poor bastards who’ve made a living for years off of the fishing (and, just like the farmers, have significant capital invested in their livelyhood). Yeesh. Thanks, guys.

  20. 2009 July 13
    Debbie permalink

    I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. It saddens me to see what has happened to all the beautiful crops that used to grow so richly there. I went to school with the children of all these so called “rich corporate land owners”. These are hard working farmers that have owned these properties for generations. I agree with Jason above, I also am sometimes embarassed to be a native of California. Thanks to Sean Hannity and Fox News for bringing this to the public.

    • 2009 July 21
      Edie permalink

      My husband and I had to travel to the Bakersfield area this past Sunday and noticed all these signs. I grew up in San Joaquin County and my hubby in Merced County and we both lived in farming areas. When people mention “rich corporate land owners” they aren’t talking about the long time, hard working farmers. What’s happening is large farming conglomerates are coming in and wanting the land owned by the long time local farmers. My feeling is they will do anything to shut down the family owned farms so they could buy their land “cheaply”. And yes, they are being subsidized by us taxpayers and much more easily than the small family owned farms. What a shame.

    • 2010 January 23
      Tom permalink

      But the large farming industry grew out of complete disrespect for other water uses, and the water, a common property resource, became an entitlement, subsidized by everyone else. I grew up in California TOO, and I have family whose livlihood has depended on Central Valley agriculture for several generations. However, we need to evolve out this single-minded self-serving paradigm that water, more precious than gold, is only necessary for growing fruits, nuts, and fibers. Wise use and conservation of water by all is THE imperative, not who gets it all, the farmers or the Delta smelt? The way some people are commenting you’d think the Central Valley just became a desert, because of some signs and a very frequent and cyclical period of drought. Poppy cock. All that crap about job losses is fallacy too. But there’s more to retaining and creating job growth than unfettered industrial agriculture. Jobs are re-allocated, people re-educate or re-invent themselves and find other opportunities. Besides, California, as all over the world, has more problems right now than a contraction in the agriculture industry.

      • 2010 March 1
        John permalink

        For in depth information on this issue, read “The King of California”, a story of the Boswell family and how they became the biggest farmers in California and in the world. People in the Central Valley will recognize other families and issues. The book was published within the last ten years. It reads like a conspiracy-theory thriller novel but provides facts and context for anyone interested in the subject. Well documented, also, are the rabble rousing ploys the Boswell Company used to fight or promote issues that would primarily benefit or hinder them while trying to make it seem that it was the “working man” who would be helped or harmed. The “Congress Created Dust Bowl” campaign would fit right in the family history.

  21. 2009 July 22

    I just can’t believe this is just about the fish. Everyone, who is interested in this subject, should watch this you tube video. Who was the person who convinced congress to turn off the pumps? How did he show that by turning off the pumps to save the fish it wouldn’t have any substantial impact on the rest of the ecosystem down the line? Was it really the fish? Or did it just cost too much to keep repairing the pumps when the fish got caught in it? Why is this fish so mighty important anyway? And what’s so wrong with letting the fish ravel upstream to the farmers? There just HAS to be more to this story than simply the preservation of this fish. Is it costing the state too much to maintain? Could the farmers form a co-op and buy the pump station? I, for one, would like to hear congress’ side of the story. What were they thinking would happen here? All for a fish? Did anyone think that maybe a screen or net to prevent the fish from getting into the pumps might have been a better solution then simply turning the entire system off? I have tons more questions and my mind just can’t seem to wrap around the “story” of the 2″ fish that put thousands of people out of work, increased the price of produce and is now forcing more dependancy of neighboring countries, especially now, during our own economic crisis. (And if you noticed that I misspelled a few words and didn’t use the proper punctiation… well, then you missed the whole point.)

  22. 2009 July 26
    GetReal permalink

    People, come to your senses. It’s not about water rights (which is a HUGE mess). It’s not about corporate ag or family farms.

    It’s about FOOD. Dead almond trees = more expensive almonds, imported from Turkey or Spain. Empty fields = 3,000 mile lettuce in the winter, coming from Mexico with who-knows-what living on it.

    Yes, water to farmers in the arid West HAS been subsidized — because THEY PRODUCE FOOD. A domestic food source is CRITICAL to a nation’s people’s survival!!!

    People who were raised with the “supermarket” as their food source don’t seem to grasp this basic reality.

    You will. Soon.

    • 2009 July 26
      Hedon permalink

      I always find it interesting when the farm supporters rally around the “we produce the food so y’all couldn’t survive without us” cry. It is true that a domestic food source is critical to a Nation’s survival. It is just as true that a domestic transportation force (ie truckers) is critical to bringing those crops to the population centers. Otherwise what’s the point of growing them?

      If you look at it logically, it follows that the guy who stands on the line at Goodyear making tires is just as critical as the farmer or the trucker because without the tires he makes the trucks couldn’t move the goods to market and the people would starve while food rots in the farmer’s fields. Likewise, the lady who runs the fuel desk at the local truck stop is vital because, again, without her the trucks couldn’t move the product. What about the guys who keep the road in decent enough repair to get the food from field to market? Gotta have them. The guy at the plastics factory is crucial because we have to have some way to store the food the farmer produced. Oh lord that’s going to force us to look into the folks who make refrigerators, and the power companies who provide the power to preserve the food… clearly we can’t survive without a way to store the food. And what about the young girl running the register at the local supermarket? She may not be able to count change, but she is just as vital to the country’s survival.

      What I think we’re seeing here is that the farmer is indeed critical to a society’s survival. But before all you farmers out there get too puffed up with your own importance, I’d like to point out that there are a million other vital links in the chain that are just as crucial as y’all. Like truckers, for instance.

      Not subsidizing water for farmers in the west is obviously going to put a huge burden on those farmers. It also seems certain to raise food prices. Just like the plan that the powers that be in California are kicking around right now to close the state to trucks older than ’07 models will cripple the trucking industry. Again, food prices will skyrocket if they actually create and enforce this new rule on the trucking industry. There is a reason that most of the trucks hauling produce around California are twenty year old beaters — freight rates are so low that they don’t make enough to buy newer trucks. If the state forces out all the old trucks who are currently hauling the food to market what do the farmers plan to do with the crops they are still able to grow? Station wagons?

      Trucking is a business and the drivers have to make a profit — however slim — if they are going to stay in business. People who were raised with ultra-cheap California freight rates and an ever increasing regulatory burden being absorbed by dirt-poor truckers don’t seem to grasp this reality. They will. Soon.

      It looks like even when you’re talking about getting screwed by the state farmers aren’t anything special or unique… we’re all getting screwed.

      • 2009 July 28

        I’m from the Chicago area and I just drove I-5 from LA to north of Sacramento and all I noticed on the whole ride was those signs off to the side of the road. I had a pretty good idea what they stood for and I also realize that there’s hundreds of sides to a story as complex as this. I just wish that some of politicians in the Great Lakes region could come out to California and some of the other states drained by the Colorado and see just what a valuable resource they’re taking for granted. Studies have shown that more than 50% of the water that Chicago takes from Lake Michigan leaks out of the antiquated, 100 year old piping system that delivers this precious resource to the people in the Chicago area. The politicians don’t care though because we’ve got a few more billions of gallons just waiting to be taped not 3 miles offshore from the city. Can you imagine if a gasoline pipeline was leaking 50% of it’s product on the way to market? The uproar would be deafening. We can survive without something like oil, it would be difficult but we could do it. Try living for 5 days without clean water.

        • 2009 July 28

          Dang, Ed!

          Is it really as bad as 50%? I’m surprised. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to fix the pipes instead of losing all that water that you already paid to pump up out of the lake?

      • 2009 August 26
        Nate permalink

        I think its funny how alot of people here say that its the commercial farmers that are whinning, but every farmer is hurt by water shortages. My wifes entire family has been farmers in the central valley for decades they too feel the pain of the lack of water. These signs are a political movement but just take a look at the crops behind them, they don’t loook as healthy as they once were.
        The real problem is Los Angeles and the surounding cities. Remeber this once was a desert with a city built on top of it. they never really had a steady fresh water supply and they only one they are getting now is from Northern Califonia. Nothing against LA is beautiful but those green lawns you all have should be zero scape just like Phoenix, AZ. If we are gonna cut water it should be in the places that dont need it.

        • 2009 September 17
          garagehero permalink

          Farmers in California take 78% of the water, the rest of us 22%. Farmers pay almost nothing for water as well….are we supposed to give them our bathwater as well???

          • 2009 October 20
            Theryl McCoy permalink

            It is true that farmers use most of the water, and sometimes they will sell their $10 per acre/foot subsidized water rights for up to $1000 per acre/foot to the city folk.

  23. 2009 July 29

    I just drove the I-5 for the first time in two years. I noticed all the signs. Looking it up, I saw the smelt is listed as teh reason the signs were created. My question is – why don’t they get the water from the ocean and desalinate it? Why not change farming tactics?

    Also, as I was driving around noon – at 102 degrees – I saw many farms watering. Huh? I don’t water my lawn any time past 5:00 am, simply because I know that the warm air in midday would suck up most of the spray to evaporation.

    Now, I’m all for production and saving ecosystems such as the delta. Seems there can be ways to move forward without making everyone crazy. (This coming from someone who used to have a family farm, which is now under Whiskeytown dam.)

    • 2009 August 14

      I’ve seen them watering in the heat of the day, too. I wondered about that at the time.

    • 2009 August 29
      Truckergrove permalink

      That would be a great idea Kai, but getting water from the ocean and desalinate it is very expensive then you have to lay pipes from the plant to the farms another very expensive project. Best thing would be is to save a few thousand of those fish somewhere else. Cut the water supplies to all the domestic sprinkler systems and give the farmers the water they want to grow the food that we need.

  24. 2009 August 11
    Sal permalink

    The sadest thing is that people fail to recognize the real agenda – world depopulation. The environmental movement was hijacked long ago by the Rockefellers, Rothchilds, British Royal Family, etc. What do you think the new carbon tax/credits are all about as well. And vaccines? Please do some research before it’s too late. Or come September with the mandatory “swine” flu (bioweapon) vaccines, they will get their wish, and famine will be only a part of the problem.

  25. 2009 August 13
    Billy Proulx permalink

    The arrogance and ignorance expressed by the leftist on this blog is sickening. The Republicans have had virtually no power in California for quite sometime. EVERYTHING that is wrong with California, from the under performing school system, to budget crisis after budget crisis, to the deteriorating highways, to this Congress Created Dust Bowl situation can be laid at door of the Democrat Party. And now the whole nation is about to experience the effect of one party rule. STOP sucking down everything your college professors tell you. Grow up and learn to think for yourself. There is real life outside your seminar-pseudo-intellectual existence.

    • 2009 August 14

      Hi Billy,

      Since this is my blog, I suppose I can speak to the “arrogance and ignorance expressed” around here. It seems as if you have a picture of some pampered elitist sitting in an ivory tower passing pronouncements about the common man. I don’t know what makes you think the people involved in this conversation are simply spewing back what some college professor crammed down their throats, but you say a couple of times in your comments that we should all learn to live in the “real world” not a “seminar-pseudo-intellectual” existence.

      I don’t know how to break it to you, Billy, but Stace and I are truck drivers. We drive an 80,000 pound vehicle through god-forsaken traffic 70 hours a week. I’m not sure how you get any more “real life” than driving a truck 140 hours a week. Maybe you could tell me. Would we be more credible if we were ditch diggers?

      As for the college professor issue, I can honestly say that to my knowledge it’s been decades since I’ve brushed shoulders with one. I’m 44 so that’s understandable I guess. So — for me personally — I find your supposition that I’m some weak-willed teen-aged activist who blindly follows everything a professor is laying down quite funny.

      I suggest that from the tone of your comments you might want to consider thinking for yourself and quit just spewing back what you heard Hannity and Lumbaugh say. It is a positive sign that someone isn’t thinking when they say that “EVERYTHING” that is wrong with a state is the fault of one party or the other and it really cuts into your credibility as someone who lives in the real world and thinks for themselves.

      However, it does set you up nicely as a crazy Republican stooge who believes everything the party’s been feeding their masses if that’s what you were going for. I bet you still believe there were weapons of mass destruction, don’t you?

      • 2009 August 15
        Billy Proulx permalink

        I don’t know how to break it you but the Democrat Party has been in in firm control of the California state legislature for your entire life. Although we have had several Republican governors, the power of the purse is with the state legislature. I apologize for assuming that are a product of our higher education system and applaud for being a member of a very important and noble profession. But letting the Teamsters Union do our thinking for you is even worst than college professors. And now that I know the nature of your blog I will do you kind favor of staying off of it.
        I do also commend you for talking about the issue of water being cut off to the southern Central Valley. I am surprised that no other major media out lets have covered it.

        • 2009 August 24
          Kat permalink

          Billy – you obviously don’t have a clue about how politics operates in this state. While Dems have a majority, the Repucks hold the purse strings – through a 2/3 majority rule on the budget. Hello? Simple majority does NOT have power in California. And btw, I’ll take my valuable college education over your knee-jerk reactions anytime. A little schooling might do you some good.

          • 2009 September 23
            Billy permalink

            The 2/3 majority requirement does not give the Republicans power over the purse strings. All it has done slowed is allowed them to slow the Democrats from driving the stae head long over a cliff. How would you fix California’s economic troubles? Raise taxes? We are already paying some of the highest tax rates in the nation. I agree that an education is a very valuable thing. I applaud for getting one. The problem is that we do very poor job of distinguish education from indoctrination. I have debunked several falsehoods that my son brought home from his professors. The left wing bais in our colleges and university is blatant and obvious. Before you personal again you should know that not only do I have an education but have spent my entire life working in the field.

  26. 2009 August 13
    kathy permalink

    Anyone consider who paid for these signs? There are lots of them….all along Interstate 5. Surely farmers that can’t farm, can’t earn revenue from their farms in order to pay for these signs. If I was a struggling farmer trying to perserve my water and grow crops, the last expense I would want is to pay for signs “all along” Interstate 5 that discuss a “congress-created dust bowl.” That’s fear mongering folks….there were plenty of crops adjacent to these dry fields….wonder where those farmers get their water? Think it reeks of big business complaining!

  27. 2009 August 22
    Chaos permalink

    Just thought you might like to know that you’re the #1 search result if you search ” Congress + Dust bowl” on yahoo. Congrats. ; )

  28. 2009 August 25
    Truckergrove permalink

    No water no crops, import from where ever and increase the US deficit to $2.5tn by 2012 and lets all watch the USA go down the empty tubes. America needs to grow it’s own food, look after it’s own people, be self sufficient, cut imports, back agriculture, restart industry and stop payouts to non american citizens.

  29. 2009 September 3

    The sign indeed does mean to say that Congress created a dust bowl; not one of dust storms. Instead, Congress created a dust bowl consisting of the finest farm land on earth left barren from the Grapevine to at least San Jose.

    In August, my trip up I-5 from the San Fernando Valley to Scott’s Valley via San Jose left me enraged at what was happening. I noted both the signs and the barren fields, which in years passed were lush with bright green crops. I had heard about the outrage on the Hugh Hewitt radio program; but, seeing the devastation first hand drove home the point rather dramatically.

    One must forgive the farmers for blaming Congress instead of the Federal judge who halted water distribution. The judge ruled on the basis of the Environmental Protection Act, which, of course, Congress passed. Frustratingly, Congress has failed to update the law to correct some unforeseen consequences, such as the one about which the farmers have justly complained. Thus the farmers, and their sign, are correct.

    Congress passed the law; Congress has not acted to correct some critical flaws. Thus, the farmers have justly aimed their rage at the responsible body.

    BTW, the link to the Pasadena Star News requires a registration; so I passed on it. Having witnessed the “dust bowl” for myself, I did not need to read about misplaced hyphens.


  30. 2009 September 7
    James Reitano permalink

    The state is drying up and a bunch of wealthy farmers are trying to blame the government. …….The same government that enabled the central valley to grow ANYTHING in the first place by diverting delta water.

    Give me a break!!!

  31. 2009 September 17
    garagehero permalink

    Just checked out the Judge that made the ruling; ex-marine appointed by Bush senior. Neo cons are so much fun to watch!
    Farmers created the “Dust Bowl”, not Congress. Does anyone question that farms in California are 92% Megafarms owned by the Oil Companies( who manufacture the synthetic fertilizers?) and who pay their workers diddly squat? Or that these “farmers” pay almost NOTHING for the water, and are even able to “grandfather” it to their children, who in many cases opt out of farming, but sell the water rights to to others for a profit??? Does anyone say anything of the harmful farming techniques used by farmers that relies too much on water and the destruction of the topsoil???

    • 2009 October 28
      Rod B. permalink

      And I bet you think milk come from the store. You are outrageously un informed.

  32. 2009 September 18
    matt from texas permalink

    Im from Texas, and I just recently got the opportuninty to drive the length of your beautiful state. I have a friend that plays for the Sacramento River Cats and I was helping him move. Anyhow, I saw these signs and at the time, had no idea what they meant. After doing some research, I now know what the signs are about.

    I have to say, it is truly a shame that thousands of people are have lost their jobs. Evidently the San Joaiqin valley provides or provided 12% of the entire produce cultivated in the US. Regardless of who owns the farms, they provide food which is necessary to feed not only our county but others as well. To not provide water for farmers, for the benifit of this nation is downright wrong. To compensate we must import food from other countries. We already import just about everything else. Something like this would never happen in Texas.

    The only other countries that would refuse their farmers the ability to grow their crops are third world.

    With the state of Cali’s economy, I think it would be benificial to turn the water back on, and grow as many crops as you possibly can.

    For the tree huggers, those crops breath in dirty air and emit clean air. Pretty simple.

    For a fish? REALLY??

  33. 2009 September 21
    Robert permalink

    Did you ever wonder how this all happens. First of all someone has to discover this 2″ fish, somehow figures out that this is a new species, calculate the number of them and hit the panic button really hard. One individual initially starts this process which will later result in the major reduction of water flow to certain areas, such as farms. I am sure the impact of this act is carfully evaluated to be sure that this is a worthwhile thing to do. I am also sure that someone is working hard to find a way to protect the fish from entering the pumps so the farmers can resume growing whatever it is that they were growing. I just passed the area yesterday and was wondering what it was all about, now I know. The next thing to become endangered is probably going to be cotton underwear, much cooler to not wear the stuff anyway! I really hope there was no spotted owls nesting in all those citrus trees!

  34. 2009 September 21
    Sanity permalink

    This area was originally a desert and water is in short supply. For these huge mega farms and agra-businesses to expect to be first in line and be able to use as much as they want is absurd.
    If you are arguing for unlimited water for these interests you are either arguing for your own self interests or very uneducated on the subject.

  35. 2009 September 22

    Finally found some actual information on this only to find that it originated with Faux News. Ick.

    • 2009 December 24


      Your statement isn’t technically true. This situation didn’t ‘originate’ with Fox, because the judge’s ruling clearly happened in the real world. The fact that Fox News chose to cover it, when other major outlets chose to ignore it, is really besides the point.

  36. 2009 September 23
    Im hungry from texas permalink

    I suppose that we could feed the starving children with the crops these farms produce. Seems like a fair trade, kill the fish and save the starving children. What kind of self interest does anyone have growing crops for money and to feed people? Its not evil. You go to restaurants right? Is it wrong nowadays to have some self interest? I mean everyone has to do something with their lives. Do you naysayers rely on everyone else for everything? I suppose you rely on government to fix your problems. Lets these people or venture capitalist or whatever they might be, do what they want to. Its not breaking any laws, well it wasnt, for these people to pump in river water to irrigate their crops. Regulation and taxation is a much better solution than simply putting people out of business and driving up the price of produce across the nation for the lack of water. Those people you feel sorry for that cant pay the bills, cant afford to eat. Water is a natural resource, there is always the same amount on planet earth unless we are in an ice age. And it wouldnt really matter then.

  37. 2009 October 5
    Alison Tucker permalink

    I too saw this travisty first hand on July 3, 2009. When I got home to south OC I checked the internet to find out what was going on. Since then I’ve not heard one local or national news story related to this. A friend told me about the Fox broadcast. Good for them. I got a bit mad today and contacted ABC7 and spoke to a really nasty woman on the up desk. She said if Fox broadcasted it then it must not be true, as they manufacture their own material. What an idiot. I hope she reads this on line. Why is this story not HUGE. The impact is far reaching. A whole lot more important than what celeb kissed another. Also, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but this situation stinks. Sounds like the big Ag. companies are going to put the little guys out of business, buy up the land and have the water turned back on. Plausable??

  38. 2009 October 28
    Rod B. permalink

    The water issues facing the Central valley and California is a vast topic. Here is a letter I posted to the EWG site that might explain how far this goes.

    In reading your AGMAG I was disappointed by the lack of current information. The report you site is already outdated. Agriculture in California has been changing its practices over the past year and years prior. There are many programs from the FDA as well as the Air Resources Board that are currently being implemented. As a resident of the Central Valley of California I am discouraged with the Air Resources Board. In our area it seems the easy targets get the biggest hits or headlines. I see business trying to comply with new regulations at large costs and yet I see 10 cars in the Starbucks drive through. If the environmental drummers really want to impress the rest of us start then getting out of your car and walking to the counter. We already do! The Air Boards need to start with the simple, easy and smart implementations such as the common sense mandates for recycling and fireplace burning.
    As a consumer and an informed citizen I am concerned about the welfare of California Agriculture. The current water issues facing the Central Valley of California and its effect on Agriculture in the region puts all consumers at risk. In the past this region accounted for 33% or more of fruits and vegetables for the nation as well as Japan and other countries .The latest figure on farm land not in production in the Central Valley due to water is around 500,000 acres. California also has over 500,000 acres of organic farming with a majority in the Central Valley. These acres also are being reduced. It has been commented by the current administration that imports will make up the shortfall from the losses in California. Japan recently sent a group to investigate the impacts it will have on their country being they import about a third of their food from California. Japan is concerned due to the quantity and quality of food imports to their country and the food safety California Agriculture has provided. They have reason to be worried as should the American consumer. As a matter of fact other countries do not have laws and regulations or even guidelines on food safety such as California or the United States. Many of the pesticides that have been banned in California and then the US are still in use in crop production throughout the world. Production of these outlawed products have been shut down in the United States and have been licensed to other countries for production for their Agriculture crops that are imported to the United States .In these food exporting countries there are no testing prior to harvest or reporting or enforcement of any kind as we have in California. When entering the US a very small percentage is tested. The downfall of this region in California and vast importation of foreign foods will have a damaging effect on the American population. The vast lack of information on this topic in the general public will be devastating to the health of all consumers.
    The water issues in California relate to the Sacramento Delta. There are many claims and arguments as to why the Central Valley should not receive water but rather send it to the Delta. The untold part of this story is the pollution and sewage being dumped into the Delta is causing devastation to the wildlife and environment. The simple truth is the secret to pollution is dilution. The more water that flows through the Delta the more it will cover up and dilute the pollution from that area. This fact has been covered up but the politicians from those areas of California. Currently there are reports being developed and investigations that will bring this to light.
    California Agriculture may not be the most favorite topic in some groups but it is still the most advanced, productive and is the most food safety oriented place in the world.

  39. 2009 November 3
    RonW permalink

    In years past I remember miles and miles of cotton near I5. Today there is a small amount near the southern end of the valley. Like others have posted, I noticed that much of the signed land lays next to I5 with orchards behind or adjacent. I believe there are more agriculture fields near I5 than 20 years ago even with the new fallow land, but that’s my perception, I’m not sure.

    I mention these observations because it brings to mind some questions:
    1. What was growing of the land now housing dust bowl signs (say 2 years ago)? Was it cotton? If so, is it possible cotton is no longer a good paying crop and farmer’s/agribusiness don’t have an alternative?
    2. Anyone have statistics on how much land has been REMOVED from agricultural use in the valley over the last 2 years? I’m gonna make a WAG and say it is very very little.

  40. 2009 December 26
    Dave T permalink

    Driving to my parent’s house for the holidays I found the “congress created dust bowl” signs on I5 somewhat amusing but found they truly miss an opportunity of adequately telling the story. For instance, I bet that adding pictures of our politicians to these signs may help get the message into focus. Plus it wouldn’t hurt to story board the fact that the majority of US voters anticipate similar results from the health care reform debacle.

  41. 2009 December 29
    Don Mason permalink

    I was driving back from Vegas to SF, and took a short cut across from 99 north of Bakersfield to I5… I can’t tell you how utterly shocked I was to see ZERO farms out there in between the two freeways.. I continued to zig zag up through the valley, through Kern and even Kings County.. all back farm roads.. and I might have seen 2 active farms.. so let me tell you this… it is not just along the highway as some of you have posted.. it is REALLY a problem..

    I don’t care what the reason is.. WE NEED TO BE GROWING OUR OWN FOOD!
    I went to Fresno State and drove the valley for years back in the 1980′s and it has gone from lush to a dust bowl..

    I saw field after field of bare parched land, and rusting farm gear for at least 100 miles in the interior there..

    I did not see the signs.. it was so bad I called the Kern County Board of Ag to get the story and they would not say a word.. It was like some kind of cover up was going on..

    If we are going to rely upon South America to grow our food then we Americans are DUMB IDIOTS!

    If we have to buy abroad because it is cheaper we are digging our own graves in a hurry.

    I will never underestimate the stupidity of both the people in office, and the public voters who put them there..

    We have become an embarrassment to our forefathers..

  42. 2009 December 30
    Ron permalink

    California is fast becoming an economic wasteland. Those who post here and wish to berate “rich corporate farmers”, Fox news, etc. and choose to defend the US Congress and CA State Assembly as having “created the highway” and “created the CA Aqueduct” are simpletons who refuse to recognize that it is the US TAXPAYER and CA TAXPAYER that funded BOTH of those projects……our current governments, both Federal and State are so opposed to business that they refuse to accept responsibility for the demise in our taxbase and the unmitigated rise in deficit spending. The ZERO-LIABILITY-VOTER is the bane of our exsistence as a nation and a productive state……….when the tree-hugging environuts are starving and can no longer get produce or grains or meat staples from our foreign creditors, they may finally wake up to learn about macroeconomics…….as the above poster so accurately states “We HAVE become an embarrassment to our forefathers!”

  43. 2010 February 28
    pHarmer permalink

    These signs prove that the some nuts in the area aren’t on trees!
    The original ecosystem was destroyed by farmers and replaced with alien species that can not tolerate the existing ecosystem. The native species would prevent a dust bowl but of course humans wouldn’t like that. Time to consider doing sustainable agriculture now.

  44. 2010 May 4
    tim permalink

    I’ve been driving this route for quite some time and I’ve noticed a couple of things:
    1–many of these signs are in areas that were nothing but sagebrush for at least 10 years before the surface was scraped and the signs were installed.
    2–this area gets very little rain and none in the summer. I don’t think that there could be ANY farmland here without taxpayer subsidized water from the north.

    Here’s a video from MediaWatch correcting Hannity’s claims.

  45. 2010 August 27

    We have met the enemy, and it is us. I saw the signs too on a recent trip through CA. They clearly were placed for maximum impact, just as anyone would buy ad time in a maximum exposure time slot. That does not diminish the message however. The only thing wrong with the salmon industry is overfishing, and agriculture, overplanting. Why? Because we (you and I) want cheap food. We demand it, and the market dictates. By the way, we also feed a large portion of the world, keeping millions alive on this planet. Call me names if you want, but if this is about some endangered smelt, I’ll come down on the side of human survival every time.

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