It is Time to End the Power Subsidy!
Letter to the Editor
High Country News
March 1, 2005
Klamath Basin Farmers and Oregon Natural Resources Council both assert (Klamath Farmers face new threat, 2-7-05 edition) that the pending end of a deal with PacifiCorp that has supplied the Bureau of Reclamation and farmers within the federal Klamath Project with heavily discounted power for over 50 years will "push people over the edge" into bankruptcy.
Hogwash! If this were true then thousands of other Klamath Basin farmers who have never received subsidized power would not be in business now. The end of the power rate deal may slightly accelerate the increase in size of farming operations - a process which has been going on since the late 70s. It will also cut into the profit rates that have created an irrigation aristocracy in the Klamath Basin. But the end of the power deal will not end farming in the Basin.
The farmers are trying to reproduce the "crisis" they claimed would lead to massive bankruptcies in 2001 when, for the first time in 90 years, they did not receive all the water they desired. Very few farmer businesses went belly up then and the same is true this time around. The irrigation aristocracy wants to parley this newly manufactured crisis into a new power subsidy.
But the time has come to end this archaic vestige of socialized farming. Klamath Basin Farmers are innovating rapidly. They have received lots of government help to make their operations more water (and therefore power) efficient. They can and should compete on a level playing field with other farmers in the Basin and throughout the West. IT IS TIME TO END THE POWER SUBSIDY!
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