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Water crisis gets national attention

by Rand Green | August 12, 2009
HURON, CA -- The plight of farmers and farmworkers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, where hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural land have been taken out of production due to federal water cuts, received national media attention Tuesday, Aug. 11, when Fox News Channel aired a live interview with Latino comedian Paul Rodriguez in a dead almond orchard, here.

Fox's Sean Hannity interviewed Mr. Rodriguez, as well as U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) live via satellite from New York.

Mr. Rodriguez, the son of a migrant farmworker, heads the Latino Water Coalition, which was formed earlier this year after farms in the San Joaquin Valley were denied water deliveries in favor of a small fish called the Delta Smelt.

In the interview, Mr. Rodriguez spoke passionately about the human cost of the water restrictions and the tens of thousands of farmers and farmworkers in California whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the water cuts. Unemployment rates are as high as 40 percent in many cities on the West Side.

More than a thousand people, mostly farmers and farmworkers, who got word that the interview was going to take place, showed up to protest the federal water policy and demand that the government "turn on the pumps." They, along with the blighted almond orchard, served as a backdrop for the Fox interview.