Craig Underwood's family has been farming in California for decades. He's survived pests, floods, and (so far) drought. Nothing, however, has prepared him for the PR onslaught farmers now face as California runs dry.
"We're producing food and fiber which is vital to our existence," Underwood said, standing in a lemon grove. "Currently crops are doing better, farms are doing better, and all of a sudden we're being criticized for doing better."
Farmers are being criticized for using too much water and not sacrificing enough in the state's four-year drought. As Gov. Jerry Brown ordered city residents and businesses to slash water usage by 25 percent, reports have surfaced that 80 percent of the state's water goes to agriculture, where the governor is not ordering cuts.
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Farmers say the real percentage is closer to 40 percent, but that is still four times as much as the water going to city homes and businesses. The idea of slashing minutes off morning showers and ripping out lawns at the expense of growing nuts exported to Asia has some city dwellers gushing with resentment.
"They're growing almonds, which takes 10 percent of the water supply in a desert climate. How nuts is that?" Kobylt asked during a break at the KFI studios. (Disclosure: This reporter occasionally fills in on KFI.)
Co-host Ken Chiampou believes that asking cuts from city residences and businesses, who use only 10 percent of the state's water, is penalizing the wrong group. "I need to eat," he said, "but I don't need to eat pistachios."
The two are among the most vocal critics in the growing backlash against farmers. Almond ranchers in particular have been questioned for their water use, as it takes about a gallon of water to produce one nut. Of the state's $6 billion almond production last year, 70 percent was exported.