Farmers Losing Crops to Endangered Fish
May 11, 2009
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 8, 2009. This copy
may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Farmers in California, they're losing their
land, crops, and their livelihood, all because of a 2-inch fish.
Ainsley Earhardt brings us this special investigation.
AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
California's Central Valley is considered by many to be the
richest and most productive farmland in the nation. But this land
is being threatened by the small, harmless-looking minnow called
the delta smelt.
Recently, it landed on the endangered species list, causing a
federal court to shut down vital pumps to farmers to help preserve
• Video: Watch the special investigation
SARAH WOOLF, WESTLANDS WATER DISTRICT: This is the pumping
station. And it is pumped out of the delta here and brought into
this canal system that makes its way. And there's actually two
that go along together.
Sarah Woolf is a spokesperson for the Westlands Water District, a
company that oversees the manmade, complicated water delivery
system in the Central Valley.
(on camera) How many years has this been a process?
WOOLF: It was completed in 1968.
EARHARDT: All of the farmers along all of this land, 2/3 of the
state OF California have depended on water for their crops.
EARHARDT: The water is turned off here, so none of these farmers
can expect to get any water.
WOOLF: That is correct.
EARHARDT (on camera): Two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to
do this. This was a canal full of gushing water irrigating the
farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley. But as you can see, it is
all dried up. The pumps were turned off after environmentalists
won a federal court case. But at least one lawmaker in Washington
is fighting back.
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CALIF.): You're spending $1 trillion and you
will not put in one provision that would create — save 60,000
jobs. This is an insult to my constituency.
What we have today is a manmade brought on by laws, passed by
Congress, to where we're starting the breadbasket of the world and
starving it of water to save little fish, which is outrageous.
EARHARDT: Green groups claim the smelt are critical to the delta's
ecosystem, and if the delta's fragile ecosystem were to fail, so
would the state's main water source.
NOAH GARRISON, NRDC: If we allow the delta to become polluted or
to lose — or for the help of that ecosystem to collapse, we lose
the supply of water for 23 million people.
EARHARDT: But this argument offers little solace to farmers who
have watched their land go from this to this.
KOLE LIPTON, FARMER: This is our lifeline. And, you know, it was a
promise by the government. We have kept our word. This Congress
has reneged on their agreements and their promises.
EARHARDT: Kole Lipton is a third- generation almond farmer here,
and he argues that the American consumer should get ready for
produce prices to soar and food scares to become a common
LIPTON: Very simply. I would say, do you want to depend for your
food supply on a foreign country? If you think you have problems
now with salmonella and finding out what part of the United States
it came from, think of the problem if you have a food scare and
your food is being imported from South America or China.
EARHARDT: Representative Nunes estimate 37,000 jobs have been lost
due to the smelt issue and that number is rising higher by that
day. In one town in California, unemployment is up to an
astonishing 40 percent.
I can see the tears in your eyes.
TERRY INCH, FARM WORKER: I'll cry. This does not make me happy.
Nobody wants this.
EARHARDT: What’s going through your mind?
INCH: I want a job. We don't have water, we don't have jobs.
EARHARDT (on camera): Stressful?
INCH: Yes. It hurts. Nobody likes a handout.
HANNITY: Joining us now is Ainsley Earhardt. I can't believe this.
Because of this little fish, up to 80,000 people are going to lose
jobs. There's just enough water for farms that have been there
for, what, generations?
EARHARDT: Generations. Third-general farmers, Sean. Their
grandfathers were out there, blood, sweat and tears, making sure
those crops are going to grow so you and I would have fruits
vegetables. And let me tell you, they are shutting it down because
they think the minnow could get caught or does get caught in the
Now, they're pumping the water out into the Pacific Ocean instead
of streaming it down to the farmers, who live in the valley.
HANNITY: And they're all losing their jobs.
EARHARDT: They're all losing their jobs. Representative Nunes says
up to 80,000 jobs could be lost. So we're talking about lots of
jobs. We went to the food bank, the line was wrapped around the
block because people don't have food.
HANNITY: And all they've got to do is turn the water back on.
EARHARDT: Right. All they have to do.
EARHARDT: And you now what? Now we're going to have to get our
fruits and vegetables from other countries, from Mexico and from
HANNITY: Might as well. We get our oil and everything else.. I'll
tell you, this is madness. This is madness. Great report.
EARHARDT: It’s fish verses families.
HANNITY: It really is. They're choosing the fish. Two-inch fish.
EARHARDT: Two-inch minnow. Didn't you used to fish with them? Bait
Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p..m. ET!
Content and Programming Copyright 2009 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL
RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions,
LLC, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the
transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the
user of this material except for the user's personal or internal
use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and CQ
Transcriptions, LLC's copyrights or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for
purposes of litigation.