Happy Valley Grower: ‘Save Our Water, Rights, Way of Life’

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By Nancy Cameron

Shasta County Farm Bureau:

I am writing on behalf of the agricultural producers of Happy Valley, a small rural community west of Anderson. We have just received notice that the Bureau of Reclamation will be cutting our contracted 15,000 acre-feet of agriculture water to 0 and our domestic water to 50% unless we receive substantial rainfall over the next month, in which case they may allot us 25% for agriculture and 75% for domestic.

While I understand the drought situation we are experiencing, I cannot comprehend the need to jeopardize health, safety, food supply, environment and the livelihoods of so many people. There are 570 agricultural water users in the Clear Creek Community Service District; 43 of these users are direct sales to the public as members of the Happy Valley Farm Trail, with the remainder ranging from personal food supply to large livestock producers. For over 14 years I have raised hogs, Boer (meat) goats and Columbia sheep at this location and market the meat at local farmers’ markets. With the cost of feed and alfalfa on the rise I have been more and more dependent on pasture-feeding my animals. With no water there will be no pasture. With no water I will have 10 acres of dry land waiting to fuel the next fire and no way to protect myself when the fires come. With no water there will be no cover for the wildlife currently dwelling on my acreage. This wildlife includes covey of quail, pheasants, mallard ducks, deer and Canada geese. Are they of less importance than the animals on preserves?

I will be forced to cut my herds in size if I hope to survive but even this action may not be enough to get me though a dry North State summer as I will not only be buying hay to feed but will have to seek an alternate source of drinking water. It is truly a sad situation to so heavily support environment and wildlife that it forces man and domestic livestock to perish.

I know that Shasta County Farm Bureau will continue to fight for the water rights of our community and I support your efforts to save our water and our rights to pursue agriculture as a way of life.

Nancy Cameron

C & C Farms

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4 Responses

  1. Nancy, as a fellow small farmer and supporter of local food suppliers, I am equally alarmed by the action of the Bureau of Reclamation. While conservation is critical at all times, and especially so during drought cycles, it is equally important that ALL share the conservation burden equally.

    To impose crippling restrictions on a few is to negate their value and right to survive over the long term through the imposition of catastrophic short term conditions. Such policies are not only myopic, but they will not provide lasting solutions. Rather, they will serve only to force another small farmer off the land and out of a way of life.

    The immediate loss, economic-emotional-spiritual, will be to you, the farmer. The long term cost will be shared by us all.

    Offering you my thoughts and support….and my voice, a needed.

    Best, Bridgette

  2. Avatar Doug Bennett says:

    Nancy and Bridgette have spoken so well about this development there is little to add from the farmer and rancher perspective. From the consumer end, a lot more needs to be emphasized.
    During the last depression, local farmers and ranchers, were the food sources that saved many from hunger. We are entering an era of prolonged economic hardship, despite efforts of governments at all levels(or perhaps because of them). We have forgotten our roots in the local soil (no pun intended). Food security will become a greater and greater issue, because we are ignoring what our best minds have been telling us for years: globalization/privatization ideologies are failing. Special interests profit by shifting costs and risks onto all of us. Whatever the cause, the world is suffering from drought and food shortages. Re-localization can and may well have to save us from the current economic crisis. Local farmers and ranchers are one of our greatest assets.
    I know one thing for sure: I would rather invest my time and money into supporting local farms and businesses that in turn support me and my family than I would enabling multi-national banks or businesses that are intent on running our lives into the ground.
    When Bridgette says,"The long term cost will be shared by us all". She is right. What we as consumers need to do is support them with our voices and any other help we can provide. Then long term meaningful gains can be shared by all.

  3. Avatar Dave & Liz Andra says:

    There is a group of forward thinking individuals already addressing this critical issue in Redding. One man is working to get microloans to help farmers in this area.

    The next "Food issue" meeting is Monday March 9th 5:30 to 8pm at the Shasta County library room next to the coffee shop. Also, reference the website: seancplanet.org

  4. Avatar Terry says:

    I have found that when I live in a city, it's easy to forget that the farmers are the ones growing our food – it is easy to think that it just magically appears in the grocery store.

    To grow our food, they need water.

    Without food…well, it's not so good!!