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Herger stands up for farmers

Yreka's Siskiyou Daily News

Updated: Friday, July 18, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A "radical environmentalist" legislative attack that Congressman Wally Herger (CA-2) said was intended to deprive Klamath Basin farmers of their irrigation water was successfully defeated this week.According to a press release from Congressman Herger, "an amendment to the Department of Interior appropriations bill, seeking to prohibit funds from being used for the Fish and Wildlife Service to enter into new commercial leases on the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges in Southern Oregon and Northern California that permit the growing of row crops or alfalfa, failed in Congress by a vote of 197 to 228."

Herger said he was joined by Congressman John Doolittle (CA-4) and Greg Walden (OR-2) in defending the Klamath Basin agriculture community against an attack by the "radical environmental" community on the floor of the House of Representatives through an "anti-agriculture" measure proposed by Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

"Far from being agriculture neutral, had we not stopped this amendment, the Klamath Basin community may have suffered an economic drought of devastating proportions," Herger said.
"Armed with no more than baseless claims, the radical environmentalists continue their mission to find any way possible to drive our farmers out of business."

Speaking on the floor of the House, Congressman Herger said, "Shortages are not the result of an over allocation, they are the result of environmental laws that do not allow for balance."

He said that for a hundred years all interests in the Klamath Basin - farmers, fish, and refuges - survived and thrived by sharing the pain and the profit alike. That changed in 2001 when an interpretation of the Endangered Species Act caused some interests to do without.

"Understand that the underlying goal of this amendment is not to bring about balance," Herger said. "It is just the opposite. The purpose of the radical environmental groups supporting this amendment is the removal of agriculture entirely."

"Frankly, this amendment would have set a frightening precedent of federal command and control over farming in the Klamath Basin," Congressman Doolittle said. "Having the government dictating what farmers can or cannot grow, regardless of market conditions, would mark a clear move away from economic freedom as well as good farming practices. Today the target was beleaguered farmers in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Who's to say that tomorrow they won't be trying to tell auto mechanics what model of cars to repair?"

- By John Diehm

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