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Many connected through land, water

by Jill Aho, Herald and News 7/28/09

Lois Struve sits in her tidy country home, watching her land wither away as oppressive heat bakes the earth outside her windows.

She worries that her pastures will die soon.

Struve, like many of her neighbors, has had no water deliveries to her Langell Valley acreage outside Bonanza since July 7 when the Bureau of Reclamation shut off irrigation to the area.

Arie and Jenneke deJong, who operate a local organic dairy, rent her pastures for their cows.

“He has to pull his cows out and feed them, or look for other pasture, and I don’t know where he’ll find it,” Struve says.

For some 20 years the deJong dairy has rented Struve’s land, and although the conversation has yet to happen.

Struve knows one day deJong will be forced to move his cows off her pasture. She will then be required to refund some of his rental payment.

Tears well up in Struve’s eyes as she describes the hardest part of the water shutoff.

“It’s hard to see your place just dry up. If it’s a year that there’s no water, that’s one thing. But to have to see your pastures just drying up, it’s hard. There’s a lot of people, they depend on that,” she says. “They depend on their crops.”

Jenneke deJong decided to rent more organic pastureland this year because the dairy plans to expand. It was a near miss in deJong’s eyes.

“We fortunately had rented (that) extra organic pasture. If we wouldn’t have, ultimately it could cost us our organic certification,” she said.

Part of the organic certification is that deJong’s heifers will graze on pastures, she says.


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