California's predatory water policy is billionaire farmer–friendly

Just as farmers are enjoying spiking demand and the best agricultural prices in almost a decade, the California Department of Water Resources is set to slash water deliveries that could force liquidation of family farms into the hands of billionaire buyers.

California since World War II has been America's top agricultural state.  Family farms and ranches with an average 348 acres, about 100 acres less than the national average, control about 95 percent of the state's 77,400 farms.  Despite relatively low prices, California agriculture generated $50 billion in cash receipts for the last crop year.

Non-family corporations and trusts account for about 2 percent and 3 percent of California farms, respectively.  But billionaires like Bill Gates, with a $132-billion fortune, were able to buy up farmland at low prices.  Gates is now America's top agricultural landholder, with 242,000 acres, according to Eric O'Keefe's "The Land Report."

California agricultural land values are now being driven by water availability.  The annual Trends Report that tabulates data collected from rural appraisers and farm managers demonstrates the role played by the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) since it was passed in 2014 in setting farmland values.  The differences in top and bottom sales prices for Tulare County that once ranged between a couple of thousand dollars an acre now ranges by at least $20,000 an acre due to water availability and the confidence that groundwater supplies will continue to be available.

California family farms through high-intensity labor produced 400 food commodities last year, including a third of the nation's vegetables and two thirds of fruits and nuts.  With rising inflation and surging foreign demand driving agricultural prices paid up by double digits since August and the S&P Index of Ag Shares up a stunning 43 percent in the period, California family farmers were set for a profits boom that could last a decade.

But the good times for rural families could wither due to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) threatening to slash agricultural water deliveries by claiming that the "Statewide Snowpack Well Below Normal as Wet Season Winds Down" following DWR's fourth snow survey conducted on April 1 at the Phillips Station near the Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort that usually represents the peak for snow water potential.

Despite the manual survey that was broadcast live registering a healthy 49.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water density equivalent (SWE) of 21 inches, or about 83 percent of the annual average for this highly visible location, DWR now claims that its statewide network of electronic snow survey stations indicates that an average snowpack's SWE is 16.5 inches, or a grim 59 percent of average for the date.

The DWR tried to explain the difference by claiming that the 2021 Water Year difference from higher precipitation in the Northern California is due to colder storms bringing more snow and less rain to the central part of the state.

Following the live stream revealing significant snow on the ground at the Phillips Station, DWR director Karla Nemeth issued a policy statement: "With climate change impacting how precipitation falls in California, ongoing water efficiency and long-term efforts like recycling water, capturing stormwater, and planting water-friendly landscapes are essential to securing California's water future."

The allocation of California water resources in recent years has averaged roughly 50 percent environmental, 40 percent agricultural, and 10 percent urban.  As a result of the growing clout of the environmental lobbyists mostly funded by globalist tech billionaires, only 9 million of California's 43 million acres of farmland are currently irrigated.

With DWR about to declare a severe drought and constrict water deliveries, California family farms are at risk of a big spike in bank foreclosures.  With rural land values being crushed, globalist billionaires can use their deep pockets and staying power to predatorily buy up huge amounts of California farmland at crisis low prices.

Image: Library of Congress.

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