Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, on the Capitol Public Radio Show "Insight," today (Thursday, September 25, 2008) denied that land fallowing is a recommendation in their new advocacy report "More with Less." When questioned about the language in the report advocating large-scale land fallowing in the San Joaquin Valley, Gleick seemed to bristle and said the report doesn’t recommend that.
However, on page seven of the Executive Summary the report states, "Planned short-term fallowing of 10% of the field crop acreage would save 1.7 million acre-feet of water and provide revenue for capital and other needed improvements. Furthermore, permanently retiring 1.3 million acres of drainage impaired lands in the San Joaquin Valley would save 3.9 million acre-feet of water per year, while also reducing clean-up costs and minimizing the social and environmental impacts associated with polluted surface and groundwater."
Listen to the clip here: (40 sec., 776k)
Later in the full body of the report, pages 39 and 40 repeat much of the same language except the numbers are higher, suggesting that 1.5 million acres of permanent land retirement would save 4.6 million acre-feet of water per year.
To put that impact into perspective, water shortages this year led to fallowing of more than 100,000 acres and the loss of over 1,000 full-time jobs. "More with Less" suggests retirement of many more times that number of acres and says any job losses and local community impacts from land fallowing or retirement should be "mitigated," but it doesn’t say how.
Meanhile, innovative farmers have found ways to farm those lands profitably, reducing or eliminating impacts on soil productivity and keeping productive lands growing food for consumers around the world.
The report does contain sensible recommendations for public investment in items such as improved irrigation technology, something many farmers currently find unaffordable. CFWC acknowlegdes these financial barriers and supports efforts to bridge that gap.
Listen to the full program here: (12 min., 14.5mb)
Audio clips from the program "Insight" provided with permission from Capitol Public Radio/KXJZ.