Irrigation water loosed afterKlamath Basin farmer rally |

Irrigation water loosed afterKlamath Basin farmer rally

Over 2,000 tractors, trucks and more traveled through southern Oregon to gain attention to their plight. The Interior Department re-instated the irrigation agreeement, which is not enough for the farmers' needs, but is a step in the right direction. Photo by Lela Marshall

A 29-mile convoy of farming equipment traveling through southern Oregon resulted in much-needed irritation water for local farmers.

According to RJ Media, a rally that followed the convoy, appealed to President Trump for the irrigation water they had been promised earlier this spring. The Department of Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, did instruct the Bureau of Reclamation to release the full original 140,000 acre-feet of water to be released for irrigation.

The RJ Media story says the farmers normally use 350,000 to 400,000 acre-feet of water, but had been told they would have access to 140,000 this year due to drought conditions. That amount was cut to 80,000, then 50,000 acre-feet in order to flush a bacteria that affects salmonid species. The main crops grown in the area are alfalfa, potatoes, onions, horseradish, garlic, strawberry and cane berry rootstock, peppermint, spearmint (for tea and oil), wheat, barley, oats and hemp, according to the Shut Down & Fed Up Facebook page.

The farmers decided to rally in a last ditch effort to save their farms and communities. On May 29, over 2,200 tractors, trucks, combines, pickups and more, many displaying Americna flags, traveled together to tell their story.

The webside described the convoy: By the time the line of machinery made it to downtown Klamath Falls, the convoy was reaching 29 miles long and participants were being asked to reroute to Scala’s field in Midland….crowds of supporters lined the sidewalks, cheering as the log trucks and hay haulers blasted their air horns.”

The website also explains white crosses that were planted in a field:

“At our rally following the Convoy For Change, we encouraged attendees to plant a cross. With 2,000 crosses planted in the field, we plan to leave them up as a protest and to draw attention to why we’re here and what the Shut Down & Fed Up movement is about.

“We chose white crosses because of what they represent to our community – loss. Each cross represents a farm or farmer lost in the 2001 Klamath Project shutdown as well as the family farms and ranches we stand to lose in potential 2020 shutdown. And if you happen to drive along Hwy 97 through Midland and see the field of crosses, you can see we’ve lost a lot and stand to lose more.

“The Klamath Basin also had a lot of young men fight for our nation in World War I and World War II. Since the Tulelake homesteads were settled by veterans of those wars, it only seemed fitting to use crosses, much like those used in the monument at Normandy representing the allied forces taking of that beach from Nazi Germany.

“Everyone who attended and planted a cross had a reason they did so. Some for the farms and ranches at risk, some of the impact to businesses, and some just to show their support for Klamath Basin agriculture.

“A shut down for ag water in the Klamath Basin will be devastating. These crosses are a reminder of what we’ve already lost – and what we stand to lose this year if family farmers and ranchers aren’t able to irrigate.”

The Shut Down & Fed Up Facebook page thanked the community for its help but said more is needed. “Growers and our community should be mindful that this 140,000 acre feet of irrigation water falls grossly short of the water needed to fully operate the Project. There will be losses and hardships felt throughout our Basin and across the country.”

Senator Greg Walden and Representative Doug LaMalfa supported the cause. Walden thanked President Trump for his swift action, “The administration heard our pleas loud and clear and were able to fulfill the allocation of water that was forecast in April. While this will help most farmers get through this crop year, I’m doubling down on my efforts to get a longer-term fix for the Basin. As I said at the rally, it’s time for a reset. Despite every effort, the government’s schemes to save the sucker fish have not improved the survivial of the sucker fish, but have harmed farmeres. Every year we go through the same fights and get the same outcomes. Enough is enough. this strategy is a failure,” said Walden.