In Solidarity ~ Farmers Against Fracking!

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This week we spoke with FarmsReach member and partner Adam Scow, the California Campaigns Director for Food & Water Watch.  They are coordinators of the Farmers Against Fracking coalition (among others) across the state.

Showing a unified farmer voice against fracking is a powerful force in convincing policy makers to put a hold on fracking until its negative effects on farmers, water and farmland can be researched.  As of today, only 30 more farmer signatures are needed to present farmers’ needs to fracking decision-makers. See below for a list of farmers who have already signed the petition, and please sign today!

If you’re a farmer or rancher in California who depends on quality land and water (yes, all farmers do!), fracking has many possible negative effects on the health of yourself as well as your business. Many agree that it will permanently change the face of agriculture as we know it.

Read on as we talk with Adam about what’s at stake, why this issue should matter to farmers, and what can be done to join other farmers in the fight against fracking our farmland! 


FarmsReach: This past year, we’ve posted several blogs about fracking, including how the press often gets the issue wrong. What do you feel is the most important factor that farmers and ranchers should be aware of?

Adam Scow: Farmers need to be aware of the growing demand for water from frackers and the consequences to the environment, and hence productivity from water and air pollution. Farmers need to also be concerned about the availability, price and quality of water, which could be worsened by the fracking industry.

[Need a primer on fracking?  Check out our previous posts and resources:

FR: What exactly is Farmers Against Fracking?  Who’s behind it?  What is it hoping to accomplish?

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Adam Scow, Farmers Against Fracking Campaign Lead at Food & Water Watch

AS: Farmers Against Fracking is a grassroots movement of farmers, under the umbrella of Californians Against Fracking, who are concerned about fracking. The letter to Governor Brown was written by farmer Tom Frantz, who caught a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corp. dumping toxic drilling waste into an almond orchard. Californians Against Fracking is a coalition made up of over 100 environmental, environmental justice, consumer, faith, health, labor, political and social justice organizations, farmers and businesses, who all support a ban on fracking in California.

FR: What is the urgency for farmers and ranchers to get involved now?

AS: Fracking is poised to expand across much of the Central Valley and Central Coast where most of the state’s most fertile farmland lies. This expansion will demand large volumes of water that could come at the expense of agricultural operations. Farmers across California are already coming to grips with a dwindling water supply and could easily lose additional supplies to fracking operations. Fracking operations immediately contaminate water by mixing it with up to 500 toxic chemicals to induce the fracturing of the rock. It is estimated that each frack job uses between 500,000 and 3 million gallons of water, which becomes polluted and removed from the hydrological cycle.

In addition to supply, the global demand for California’s oil will likely increase the price of water, to the detriment of farmers. Many small and mid-sized farmers will not be able to compete for water against large multinational oil companies that are willing to pay much higher prices. Oil companies have already begun outbidding farmers for water supply in California, Colorado and other states. Without a reliable water supply, many farmers could be forced to leave farming.

The expansion of fracking could also worsen groundwater pollution. Contamination can occur from methane and toxic fracking chemicals, as well as from the transportation and disposal of toxic — and at times even radioactive — wastewater. Once it occurs, it could be impossible or extremely expensive to clean up.

Industry documents show that drilling wells routinely fails and that old drilling wells can serve as conduits for pollution to spread across a wide area. It is imperative that farmers and ranchers speak out now to protect their farms and livelihoods and build the momentum to put a stop to fracking in California.

FR: What can a single farmer do?

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 1.50.41 PMAS: For now, it’s easy: Sign the Farmers Against Fracking petition, as we need 100 farmer signatures to get policy makers to pay attention, and as of today, we only need 30 more!  [See below for who has signed so far, and how many more signatures are needed.]  In the future, continue to write and meet with their elected officials and participate in actions calling for a moratorium.

FR: Not to be pessimistic, but what harm may there be for a farm to speak out against fracking now?

AS: By speaking up against fracking, farmers will join the many farmers and ranchers who have already signed the petition [see below] and even more signing each day. We all have the right to voice our concern about risky extreme extraction methods, especially when they could threaten our livelihoods and our homes. More harm will come from the inevitable wastewater spill or well casing failure, if we sit back and let fracking expand in our state unchallenged.

FR: We’ve also heard a little about Chefs Against Fracking, supported by Alice Waters, and we’ve seen a lot of positive press about Artists Against Fracking on the East Coast, which was partially led by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon. What were or are they able to accomplish? How does it relate to the Farmers Against Fracking campaign, or does it?

AS: All of these campaigns are pushing for the same thing: a moratorium on or complete banning of fracking. Understandably, celebrity chefs and artists receive more media attention when they take a stand against fracking, but they join hundreds of thousands of average citizens and business owners who are also fighting to stop fracking across the country. In California alone, we are about to hit the 200,000 mark for residents who have signed the petition telling Governor Brown to ban fracking.

FR: How is the anti-fracking “movement” in CA related to those in other regions in the U.S., or is it?

AS: We are all part of the same movement – people who understand that fracking and other forms of extreme extraction methods are inherently dangerous and that we need to transition to more renewable energy now. Many members of Californians Against Fracking are also part of Americans Against Fracking.

FR: We hear talk about completely banning fracking in California, and some talk about delaying it until further research is done. What exactly are the different positions among those who are fighting against it, and what should a farmer or rancher know about the differences?

AS: Many in our movement see the multiple negative consequences of fracking and understand there is no way to eliminate the risks, and therefore it should be banned.  Some feel that way, but feel it is more politically acceptable to [push for a] moratorium, or temporary ban, until it can be done safely, or until it is thoroughly studied in California.

A farmer or rancher should read as many studies and news articles as they can and come to their own conclusion. There are several agriculture-specific articles on our California Food & Beverage Professionals petition page in the Learn More box on the right-hand side and the Californians Against Fracking website has a useful News and Resources page as well.

FR: Anything else you want to share with our agricultural community?

AS: California’s 81,000 farms produce an annual $43 billion in crops that feed not only our state, but also the nation and the world. We stand to lose this and much more if we allow fracking to continue unabated and unregulated in our state.


For more information on the Farmers Against Fracking coalition and petition, contact Adam Scow: ascow at fwwatch.org. 

To learn more about fracking, visit our Fracking resource list in the Water & Irrigation Toolkit.


Farmers Against Fracking signatures as of Dec. 3, 2013. Please sign!

Name: FARM / ORGANIZATION CITY
Donna Pacheco Achadinha Cheese Company Petaluma
Moira Burke Agricola: flora et fauna Dixon
Tim Bates Apple Farm/Bates & Schmitt Philo
Shanale Allen Ashland/Cherryland Food Policy San Leandro
Amber Balakian Balakian Farms Reedley
Clarence Robinson Balakian Farms Reedley
Ginger Balakian Balakian Farms Reedley
Stella Balakian Balakian Farms Reedley
SAHAH WORLEY Been Wench Farm Paso Robles
Tracy Graves Bodie Ranch Acampo
Bruce Broderick Buttonwillow Farm Fort Bragg
James Lindsay Cabrillo College Santa Cruz
Patrick Cavanaugh California Ag Today
California Certified Organic Farmers
California Farm Water Coalition 6133 Freeport Boulevard, 2nd floor, Sacramento, CA 95822
Bob McFarland, President California State Grange Sacramento
Lanny Cotler California State Grange Willits, CA
Monica Keller Calolea Olive Oil Loma Rica
Rachel Kasa Casa Rosa Farms Woodland
Robert MacKimmie City Bees San Francisco
Nadine Schaeffer Cloudforest Farms Watsonville
Lisa Hamilton Consumer San Anselmo
Stan Devoto Devoto Gardens Sebastopol
Molly Nakahara Dinner Bell Farm Grass Valley
Ken Dickerson Ecological Farming Association Soquel
Dennis R. Elston Elston Family Farm San Miguel
Family Farm Alliance Family Farm Alliance PO Box 216 Klamath Falls, OR  97601
Nico Farms Farm City San Luis Obispo
Eva FarmsReach Oakland
Teresa Kurtak Fifth Crow Farm Pescadero
Kalita Todd Fox Hollow Farm Grass Valley
Randi Fresh Starts Organic Farm Nevada City
Dru Rivers Full Belly Farm Guinda
pam sloane GIVE-GreenInitative for Vegetables in Education Old Greenwich
Kaylynne Throne Grange #306 Sebaastopol
Qayyum Johnson Green Gulch Farm Muir Beach
Sara Tashker Green Gulch Farm Muir Beach
GREEN HEART FARMS Green Heart Farms Arroyo Grande
Ilyse Magy Growing Home Community Garden San Francisco
209-723-9283 http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/ protectourwater@sbcglobal.net
Kevin Nowell Humble Bee Hill Farms Shingle Springs
Julie Guagliardo JAG’d edge farm Auburn
Albert Katz KATZ Farm Napa/Suisun Valley
KAREN RAM Kiler Canyon Farm Paso Robles
Kristie Knoll Knoll Farms Brentwood
casey havre lagier ranches escalon
John Lagier Lagier Ranches Escalon
Laytonville Grange
Roberto Le-Font/Dolores Howard LeFont’s Organic Crops San Luis Obispo
Kathy and Ken Lindner LINDNER BISON Northern California
Kathy and Ken Lindner Lindner Bison Litchfield
Caitlyn Galloway Little City Gardens San Francisco
Gloria Decater Live Power Community Farm Covelo
Doniga Markegard Markegard Family Grass-Fed LLC Half Moon Bay
Carlos Diaz Mellow’s Farms Morgan Hill, CA
JUTTA THOERNER MM Organics San Luis Obispo
Zoe Kosmas Mount Madonna Center Watsonville
Patricia Chelseth My Sisters’ Farm Shingle Springs
Glenn Harden New World Farmstead Eugene
Mishwa Lee Northridge Cooperative Homes CommUNITY Garden San Francisco
Ryan James OOG OAkland
510-938-2664 Organic Consumers Association http://www.organicconsumers.org/
Zack Kaldveer Organic Consumers Association Oakland
Amy Keyishian Organic-Now San Francisco
Sandra Dierks Paradise Valley Produce Bolinas
BOB STRICKLIN Perfect Blend Santa Maria
Dan Desmond Perini Ranch Lower Lake
Nancy Vail Pie Ranch Pescadero
Christine Pielenz Potrero Nuevo Farm Half Moon Bay
DANA TRYDE POZO ORGANIC FARM SANTA MARGARITA
Eric Michielssen Pozo Organic Farm Santa Margarita
Andrea Davis-Cetina Quarter Acre Farm Sonoma
Becky Talyn Rancho de los Proyectos Colton, CA
JOHN POKRAJAC Rancho Santa Helena Paso Robles
Jan Dietrick Rincon-Vitova Insectaries, Inc Ventura
Kira Forrest Rowan hollow farm Big sur
San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance San Francisco
Nancy Sebastopol Grange Sebastopol
Jimmy Dominguez self/ranchers against fracking Los Alamos, CA
Jamie Collins Serendipity Farms Aromas
Sophia Fox Sienna Ranch Lafayette
Fodelia Sherman Sierra Heritage Farm Garden Valley
http://slocleanwateraction.org/ SLO Clean Water Action
Memo Sifuentes Stackhouse Brothers Orchards Hickman, CA
Catherine Bui Student/ Citizen/ Supporter of healthy agriculture/ Eater Berkeley
Shawn Seufert Terra Bella Family Farm Pleasanton
Evan Wiig The Farmers Guild Sebastopol
Brenda Quintana The Latino Water Coalition
Astrid Hoffman The Living Seed Farm Point Reyes Station
Paul and Paula Getzelman Tre Gatti Vineyards Lockwood
Rachel Stauffer Trees of Life Farm Occidental
Dan Weiser Weiser Family Farms Rancho Cucamonga
White Crane Springs Ranch
Danielle Baker White Moon Ranch Shingle Springs
Kate Elsbree Windsor Grange Healdsburg
jane firstenfeld wines & vines magazine Vallejo
530.589.1696 Woodleaf Farm woodleaffarm@gmail.com
Carl Rosato Woodleaf Farm Oroville Ca.
Yerena Farms

 

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