Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
July 18, 2003
Doolittle Statement on House Floor
in Defense of Klamath Basin Farmers
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Washington, D.C.– Yesterday, Representatives John Doolittle (CA-4), Wally Herger (CA-2), and Greg Walden (OR-2), spoke in defense of the Klamath Basin agriculture community on the floor of the House of Representatives. An anti-agriculture measure, proposed by Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) as an amendment to the Department of Interior Appropriations Bill, sought to prohibit funds from being used for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enter into new commercial leases on the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges in Southern Oregon and Northern California that permit the growing of row crops or alfalfa. The amendment failed by a vote of 197 to 228. Below is the text of Doolittle’s statement:
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Mr. Chairman, this Klamath Basin is represented by three Members, the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Walden), the gentleman from California (Mr. Herger), and myself from California. It has today about 50,000 people in it. It is one of the earliest reclamation projects in the United States. The Reclamation Act was passed in 1902, and this was authorized by the Secretary of the Interior in that same year.
You will see here the cover of Life Magazine, January 20, 1947. By the way, it was 15 cents in those days. They have a homesteading veteran portrayed on the cover with his wife and family. People were attracted to this area by government policy to settle the area. It was a good area for farming, and it would be a benefit to the wildlife because of the refuges that existed there.
I want to show you now a picture in 2001 of a real family that lives there, tries to farm there today under the very difficult circumstances imposed by the government. This is lease land farmer Rob Crawford and his family. You can see it does not look very inviting because that is what happens when you cut the water off. It is basically a desert.
These people in our districts have suffered terribly at the hands of the government and misguided people who think they are trying to bring about a good policy. But they are not bringing about a good policy. This amendment is an anti-farming amendment. I do not care what the sponsors say. That is its effect. The wording of this amendment basically bars the alfalfa and the potatoes and the onions. Those are higher value crops. These are the crops that feed this family. But did you know that they are the crops that the wildlife feed on? The geese actually eats the potatoes after the first frost, the antelope come through for the alfalfa and the geese back again in the spring. So this is of great benefit. The law recognizes this benefit, and the whole system was set up so that this could occur.
The proponents claim that their amendment will save water. It will save no water. The crops that they will restrict us to growing, which are lower-value crops and will throw people onto welfare, there will be no less water required to grow those crops than required to grow the higher-value crops that this amendment would prohibit. This is an anti-farming amendment.
If you set the precedent today that we as the Congress are going to dictate what crops a farmer can grow, watch out the rest of you, because today it is in a small part of remote Northern California and Southern Oregon, but tomorrow it will be all over the country as these people with their agendas come after you and your families and your way of life. Vote no on this amendment.
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