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Sunday, October 14

Guatemala's farming crisis floods across US border in another wave of illegal immigration


The red flag went up three years ago. The International Business Times published an in-depth 'special' report in November 2015 headlined Guatemala's Vanishing Harvests. The biggest culprit? Climate change, of course. Solution? More meetings in European capitals about reducing carbon emissions. So if the worst offenders would just buy more carbon credits this will solve Guatemala's harvest problems. 

But during the past two years the flood of rural Guatemalan illegal immigrants into the United States was blamed on gang violence. This year U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, after hearing many accounts from detained immigrants, began to suspect that hunger was a significant factor driving the mass exodus. So taking notebook in hand he personally went on a listening tour in Central America's Northern Triangle countries -- Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Here's the commissioner meeting with members of an agricultural cooperative in a hard-hit region of Guatemala; as you can see he really is listening:


PHOTO: DANIELE VOLPE/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


His finding?

Food Insecurity, Not Violence, Driving Guatemala Exodus, Say US Officials
September 25, 2018
Nearshore Americas
Hunger and food insecurity are the driving force behind the recent exodus in Guatemala, say US officials, dismissing claims that a spike in gang violence is the key reason.
“The families appear to be fleeing a hunger crisis in Guatemala’s western highlands,” reported The Washington Post, citing officials at the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Due to last year’s drought and a devastating foliar disease affecting coffee plants, Guatemala’s coffee farming is also in crisis, leaving thousands of people in rural areas without an income.
“Food insecurity, not violence, seems to be a key push factor informing the decision to travel from Guatemala, where we have seen the largest growth in the migration flow this year,” reported the Post quoting CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan as saying.
[...]
“The decision made by a family from Central America to migrate to the United States is based on a range of regional factors, to include poverty and food insecurity,” he stated in a press release.
Two years ago, gang violence was the key reason behind emigration in Central America. However, murder rates have been decreased in recent years in Guatemala, according to Insight Crime.
Now the U.S. Department of State -- and we can presume the U.S. Republican Party, which is more or less supporting President Trump's decision to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico -- is taking note of Commissioner McAleenan's findings. 

But a Wall Street Journal report published yesterday  emphasized that the commissioner found factors in addition to hunger driving the Guatemalan diaspora. The report focused on the need for jobs, jobs, jobs, and job training in Guatemala. This harks to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan's feat of managing to discuss the 2018 American Farm Bill without mentioning farming.

The closest the Journal came to discussing farming issues was to quote a source who asserted that discrimination against the country's indigenous communities was preventing them from getting access to farmland.  

What's their problem with farming? In my view it's the same problem they had with Thai King Bhumibol's 'New Theory' farming system. Examining too many specifics about the world's poorest farmers might take discussion near subsistence farming -- a Taboo topic in the Financial Community and mainstream press except for a grumpy soul at The Economist and a few weirdos at Thomson Reuters Foundation

Why Taboo? Once people start modernizing subsistence farming this could lead to workable subsistence 'economies' in the boonies. Then we might see entire subsistence nations rise up, then global trade would collapse. From there -- well, the whole world will look like a "Mad Max" movie. 

In short we're dealing with people who think much like Flat Earthers. Not too long ago, as the crow of time flies, one didn't dare propose in the West that the world wasn't flat. This was because, well, because the entire order of God's Universe would collapse if the Earth wasn't flat. 

So what to do? In the immortal words of David Ronfeldt, Onward. As I've noted in an earlier post there is a revolution brewing in farming, one driven by the third great wave in farming modernization, which is an integration and application of knowledge across many disciplines, and which is just getting underway. Can the third wave make enough progress fast enough to avert a collapse in civilization? That's a cliffhanger. Never a dull moment on this planet, that's for sure. 

There are issues other than outmoded methods of subsistence farming driving an exodus of rural peoples from Guatemala; one, which got no mention from the press reports I mentioned above nor from Commissioner McAleenan, is the globalized remittances industry -- another Taboo topic. But one sharp-eyed Wall Street Journal reader noted, after studying photos posted with the report, that several of the illegal immigrants to the USA being deported back to Guatemala were young men, healthy looking young men. 

Yes; if they can get a job in the USA no matter how menial, it pays in U.S. dollars, which the workers can then remit to hungry relatives back in Guatemala. But criticism of remittances became off-limits more than 15 years ago when remittance payments became an industry backed by China, the World Bank/IMF, and the most powerful Western governments. 

In theory remittances take the worst pressure off the world's poorest by providing them with money. The downside is that the remittances industry takes pressure off the world's most corrupt and inefficient governments to improve their behavior. This pressure-releaser has contributed to the infamous Emptying the Ocean With a Sieve model of improving government in the world's most troubled countries.

There are additional reasons driving the diaspora from the poorest regions of Guatemala. One of them has been a long running weather-caused drought, which the 2015 International Business Times report discusses (from the viewpoint of human-caused Climate Change). There is also coffee plant rust disease (Climate Change), which at least in 2015 was taking a big bite out of Guatemala's coffee export industry and thus throwing many workers out of a job.

Another reason, which IBT also addresses, is the large amount of farmland that's been taken over by cattle ranchers -- several of whom are members of illicit drug cartels. Those people have had no compunction about murdering Guatemalans who don't want to give up their farming plots.

To sum to this point, there's a mash-up of factors driving the diaspora -- the same mash-up that's been occurring in many regions of the world, not only in Central America. And yet the fact towering above others is that the world's poorest farmers, who comprise a big chunk of the world's population, are having a hard time feeding themselves from farming. 

The remedies offered by governments and development banks boil down to herding the worst-affected farmers into cities so maybe they can get a job in a factory then get educated and end up 'useful' members of modern society. This urbanizing approach to problem-solving has made bad situations worse and I think it's been the key driving factor in the illegal immigration crises that have hit Europe and the United States.  

The path to sanity is to recognize that a nation's strength, and indeed the strength of cities, depends on the strength of the nation's rural population. The way to strengthen the rurals is to shore up the farming system used by subsistence farmers and small-scale commercial farmers so they can feed themselves.

Below I've featured the entire Wall Street Journal report because it has much illuminating data and its viewpoint is instructive. I've included some comments on the report. These are helpful to understanding why many Americans are fed up with the onslaught of illegal immigration to the United States. 

They really don't care to drill down into the kind of issues IBT and this post discuss.  They just want the flood of illegal immigration stopped by any means necessary -- a flood they consider more an invasion than migrations. And they do not want to hear that the United States was built by immigrants -- not this way it wasn't built would be the retort. Nor do they want statistics waved at them 'proving' that illegal immigrants carry their share of the tax burden.   

I think most of the commenters are among the voters who put Donald Trump in the White House. And they most certainly have their counterparts, in ever-growing numbers, in several EU countries.

And I think the commenters are on one side of a brewing 'New American Civil War' that John Batchelor and Michael Vlahos have routinely discussed all this past year from an exhaustive number of angles. (Recently several in the chattering class have taken up the same theme.) Here's the audio link to the latest Batchelor-Vlahos discussion on the John Batchelor Show, which took place October 12.   

As Migration From Guatemala Surges, U.S. Officials Seek Answers
By Alicia A. Caldwell
October 13, 2018
The Wall Street Journal

Several countries in the region "are really struggling to feed their people," says Customs and Border Protection commissioner

QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala -- These rugged rural highlands bordering the Pacific Ocean have become a prime source for the skyrocketing number of immigrant families crossing the U.S. border illegally and asking for asylum.

Migrant families from Guatemala seeking asylum in the U.S. have surged past those from neighboring El Salvador and Honduras. More than 42,000 Guatemalans traveling as families were arrested at the U.S. border from last September through August, up 71% from the same period a year ago, according to federal government data.

The reasons aren’t clear. Guatemala hasn’t recently seen an upswing in violence, poverty hasn’t worsened and the national political situation hasn’t changed.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan went to the area seeking to understand why so many Guatemalans are heading north. Before his trip, he suspected hunger to be the leading cause.

Several countries in the region “are really struggling to feed their people,” Mr. McAleenan said in an interview.

Understanding why migrants leave their home countries could help government authorities develop programs to deter them and ease the continuing family migration crisis at the southern U.S. border.

As of August, more than 90,000 immigrants traveling as families had been arrested at the border over the past 11 months, up 27%. That figure will likely reach about 105,000 by September, the end of the federal fiscal year, according to a person familiar with the government’s border arrest data. The prior high for a full fiscal year was 77,000.


The record number of asylum-seeking families has overwhelmed border agents and immigration authorities. Border Patrol facilities are crowded with newly arrived families, bed space at family detention centers in Texas is at a premium and immigration court backlogs are growing.

Authorities suggested there is little more they can do from the U.S. side of the border to deter people from coming into the country illegally. Attempts to increase deterrence—including the Trump administration’s controversial family separation policy that was abandoned in June—haven’t been effective in slowing the influx of families.

Unrelenting violence in the region was widely accepted as having sparked the first wave of roughly 70,000 immigrant families, and nearly as many unaccompanied children, in 2014.

But as the flows have fluctuated in recent years, the causes have become more elusive.


[Chart - numbers of family units stopped at the U.S. border]

Mr. McAleenan’s September visit included stops at U.S. government-funded or supported projects to help improve local economies with job-training programs. Government estimates of the Guatemalan economy suggest that about 150,000 to 170,000 people enter the workforce annually, while roughly 35,000 to 40,000 jobs are created.

“There was a consistent focus on the need to create jobs. These gaps are massive,” Mr. McAleenan said.

Local indigenous leaders and nongovernmental aid agencies in Guatemala paint a complicated picture of the situation in Quetzaltenango, home to many of the new migrants.

The Guatemalan government isn’t able to do enough to “offer the right conditions to stay,” according to Dora Alonzo Quijvik, a co-founder of the Guatemalan Parliament for Youth and Adolescence. Those conditions, she said, included providing indigenous communities access to education and protections from gangs and drug traffickers that use the country as a transit point.

Lorena Lopez Mejia, who works with the nongovernment agency Organismo Naleb in Guatemala’s indigenous communities, said malnutrition is widespread and land or crops is inaccessible.



“If we can’t have access to land, we can’t talk about food access, let alone (food) security,” Ms. Lopez said.

Although official data shows no increase in violence in Guatemala in recent years, it is still a reason some newly arrived immigrants cite for leaving.

“Many of our Guatemalan clients are indigenous Mayans who have faced continuous systemic discrimination and oppression that they are now fleeing,” said Patricia Ortiz, a program director at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project at the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Anita Isaacs, a political science professor and Central American migration expert at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, said a persistent drought and hunger were likely contributors to the high number of Guatemalans leaving the country for the U.S. in the past year. But political unrest and concerns about the future of a U.N.-backed anti-graft agency that has helped to keep crime and corruption in check play a growing role as well, she added.

During visits to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Mr. McAleenan heard about multiple efforts to improve security, add jobs and encourage more people to stay in their home countries.

But there were also indications that government officials here aren’t discouraging their citizens from making the illegal and often dangerous trip north.

“No-go” campaigns are ineffective, several officials told Mr. McAleenan. One official said people have a right to migrate and thanked Mr. McAleenan for the opportunities the U.S. has provided.

As he finished his trip, Mr. McAleenan said he hadn’t heard the “clarion bell” which he had anticipated. Food insecurity turned out to be one element in a complex set of reasons why so many Guatemalans have been coming to the U.S. illegally, he said. He was also frustrated that so many would-be migrants know the risks of the trip to the U.S. but chose to come anyway.

“This is not an acceptable situation,” Mr. McAleenan said.

[END REPORT]

Below are some remarks on the report from the WSJ comment section. 
I didn't cherry-pick the remarks; I went down the list omitting a few mostly one-liners. I also omitted names of the commenters except one -- Jo McInerney, who got off a zinger; it's the last comment I posted. I saw it and said, "Okay, that's enough to convey the picture."

I note that the remarks do not fit the caricature that Hillary Clinton painted of American 'Deplorables.' These are educated people, intelligent people. 

Here we go:  


STOP THEM ALL PRIOR TO ENTERING THE U.S.

If they don't speak English, can't prove vaccinations, have no resources to be self-sufficient, OR can't prove identity with confirmed U.S. vetting; turn them away prior to entry.

The U. S. can't afford to be the dumping ground for all the nations south of our borders who can't control their population explosion.

**
On this article, Jeff Burke identified Sacramento Dems as a magnet for illegals, which I agree-- As I understand it--Sanctuary cities overall are the biggest magnet for illegals the world over. Close to 600 cities safeguard illegals--- A Sanctuary city in the USA is a Federal Crime. Just get into the country - that's all anyone has to do----Try this is any country and you will be prosecuted and the officials safeguarding will face prison..

Where is our Attorney General--of course if we did have one- the 9th District Court supersedes our Constitution---This problem must be addressed.

***
"Understanding why migrants leave their home countries could help government authorities develop programs to deter them and ease the continuing family migration crisis at the southern U.S. border."

It's not a secret... serious pressure on the land, high birth rate, terrible inequities in wealth distribution, high criminality, polarization fed by Evangelicals and racial discrimination. For many year the USG has worked in the interests of the landed wealthy and didn't do enough after the peace agreement.
***
A real magnet is the socialist gov in Sacramento, who has created every possible program to attract illegals: Driver licenses for illegals, indirect programs for illegals like free housing for illegal students on UCS and UC campuses, and in-your-face programs like paying for illegal immigrant defense attorneys.

Scum like Kevin DeLeon, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, and Libby Schaaf should be prosecuted for breaking their oath to the American People and treated as traitors.

***
Why don't you mention the farmers and ranchers who give illegals jobs? Half of farm workers are illegals. The construction, hospitality, and food service industries are highly dependent on illegal labor. So, who's the real scum?

***
The number one problem around much of the world that is poor, is that they also have more births than they have resources for. Since however, they are mostly Catholic in Mexico, Central, and South America, it isn't like they would even use free birth control given to the women in their own countries, to alleviate their situation a lot.
***

The article really doesn't discuss the impact of the so-called corruption commission that was imposed on them by the UN. It has served to promote instability and undermine what few institutions there are. It is little more than a front for the groups that hold power in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba to try to destabilize the government. 

What the country needs is the ability to develop its institutions rather than have them undermined by an unelected and unaccountable organization with no oversight or clearly defined outcomes. We have been in Guatemala for most of the past year and the people are friendly, honest and hard-working. They deserve better than what the UN has set off on them.

***

In a recent study by UC Berkeley's School of Agriculture, it was discovered that[U.S. Democratic Party] farmers actually hire illegal aliens to work on their farms -- and a similar study by UCLA discovered that liberals in the hollywood regime living in Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Brentwood also hire illegal aliens as nannies and as pool cleaners and as yard workers and …

UC Berkeley and UCLA tried to bury these facts, but a few die-hard right wing students at the schools revealed the data and the reports to an uncooperative MSM, which has refused to publish a word of it.
***

We know what the answers are: See Hungary, Singapore, Israel, Australia. For example, the Australians actively push back would be illegal immigrants further into the seas, those that do set foot in Australia are exiled to offshore detainment. Singapore jails, canes and deports illegals, in that order. Hungary built not one border fence but double fences, heavily enforced with armed guards. Israel has shot hundreds of would be security fence intruders (most survive) and thrown in tear gas too. The U.S. had to get tough or get overrun; so far we are getting overrun. Political will is needed, not new "answers". Trump 2020 would help.
***

The article is all about families migrating to the US from Guatemala - but the photos tell another story. The leading photo shows a stream of young men leaving the plane after being deported. A second photo also shows deported migrants - about ten women in the front row, and 40 young men in the subsequent rows. This is not about desperate families. This is about ambitious men, eager to better themselves. And the reason why is not complex. It's simple - it's easier to get into the US and get lucky than to stay in Guatemala with no prospects. The US is the drug of choice. This is no family problem. It's young men eager to try their luck in the US.

***

Is there any more salient reason for a physical barrier than 100,000 families crossing illegally? Family heads have been counseled by traffickers to say 4 things at their first interview. "I am fleeing gang violence. I fear for my family's life. The gangs want my son. They say they will kill us if he doesn't join them."

Reports of that situation would be evident were it rampant. The conflict in El Salvador was widely reported. The conflict in Guatemala? No, these are just poor families who've been told what to say at their interview.

#BuildTheWall

***
Agree. People emigrate to the US from countries such as Guatemala and Honduras for economics, job opportunity and family reunification but of course when they near the border it's becomes threat of death. Example: The International Organization for Migration 2016 Survey on International Migration of Guatemalans and Remittances of both remittance recipient families and returnees. 

The report found the leading reasons why returnees migrated to the US were economic (64.1%), family reunification (9.1 %), violence (3.3 %), and because of sexual diversity discrimination. The main causes why surveyed people would migrate during the next 12 months were for employment (31 %) or economic reasons (24.2 %). Other motivations were family reunification (18.6 %), because of discrimination based on their sexual identity (2.4 %), insecurity (1.7%), problems with the gangs or threats (1.2 %), and violence (0.5 %).

https://www.iom.int/news/guatemala-remittances-97-percent-usa-iom-study

***
Likewise Hondurans: How do we know this? People in Honduras asked. A survey was conducted February 12-22, 2018 by the Reflection, Research, and Communication Team (ERIC-SJ as it is known in Spanish) regarding public perceptions of Honduras' social, political, and economic situation in 2017.

Table 91: Those who said a family member had emigrated in the last four years were then asked if the reasons were because of violence and insecurity or to find employment and opportunity. Only 11.3% said because of violence, 82.9% said for work and opportunity.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AapV6tzOCCNu942KmXFfCMwnNDjqqvIq/view

***

Colonialism is still a four-letter word apparently. What can we do, to bring productivity and prosperity to these failed countries, who's economic systems prevent them from even feeding their own people?

how desperate must people be to leave their homelands, for a country with different customers and languages. Yes, America is still the promised-land for many. But wouldn't people be happier staying in their own homeland if they could? Wouldn't you?

We have a responsibility to plow through the left-wing socialism and colonialism nonsense, and engage in these countries to help them develop modern democratic capitalism. It's the right thing to do. It's not about money. It's about teaching and institutional reform.

***
If we do that, and third world countries develop societies and economies that provide incentives for their citizens to stay home and prosper, where are the elites going to find the cheap labor on which their luxury depends?

***

The graph from the US Customs website (below) shows apprehensions of illegals at the border by year.

There is one, and only one year that is different from the others. It is the orange line representing FY17.

Do you see the enormous dip in that line?

That was people thinking we'd actually start enforcing the law after the election. Now, we're back to normal.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration

***

Actually, the graph shows illegal entries have declined and stayed much lower in 2017.

Still room for improvement, sure.

***

But the blue line for 2018 shows apprehensions of illegals is back up to that of previous years. After Trump became president following his talk of enforcing immigration laws illegal border crossings dropped. But now after a 1 1/2 of all attempts to end sanctuary cities, DACA, chain migration, birth-right-citizenship, make E-verify mandatory or significantly increase deportations from the interior have been blocked by Democrat politicians or activist federal court judges the invasion has returned.

***
Don't look for this problem to be solved anytime soon. The globalist elite look at labor the same way they look at any other resource, as something to be obtained at the lowest cost possible. If the problems in Guatemala that drive emigration are solved, a new s----ole country will be found to be a cheap labor mine and the process and problems will move there.

***

Unless the U.S. refuses entry to all refugees they will keep coming. Not sure America is willing to take this step.

When the hope of living is America is worth more leaving one's country and everything behind and then make a dangerous journey then they will keep coming.

We will have refugee camps along our border and we will either let them die or provide aid. The encampment themselves will create a big problem as they grow. Are we going to prevent charities from providing them aid so they will die?

Another big complication is we have many workers who live in Mexico and work in the U.S. each day. The refugee situation will make this even more difficult to control.

If you read the article the solution is to make it worthwhile for people to stay in their country than try to enter the U.S.

To all those who think the simplistic solution is to build a wall - reread the article. Refugees will continue to come.

***

If our national existence is threatened, the President can then act. He wold have to suspend Posse Comitatus under an emergency such as 'continuity of government' Executive Directive 51. He could then seal the areas between the Ports of Entry with federal troops.

Then recall our ambassador, close the ports of entry, and give Mexico an ultimatum. Thier military has the capability to interdict the transit of hundreds of thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. They could not transit the one thousand miles from Mexico's southern border - particularly the last three hundred miles of hot desert and few roads - to Texas, NM, AZ without logistics and through the Mexican army.

That should compel our Congress to address the crisis with Immigration and border enforcement reform.

***
They need to come through the front door. So long as we give them a wink and an nod from the employer side, and the Left sees voters, the Congress is under insufficient pressure to address the problem.

Bottom line - there are now 7.6 billion the planet. It is over-populated. About 4 billion - due to security, lack of food, oppression, war, genocide, or for economic reasons . . . are going to rush the border between the ports of entry.

When the pressure to get in far exceeds the political will to regulate/control the influx, like sea water in a leaking submarine the ocean continues to rush in until the pressure equalizes. And that translates to a meeting of those items that are causing the pressure imbalance - security, food, infrastructure - the quality of life. Can this country sustainably support 1.5 billion?

We will be overwhelmed if we do not collectively address this via our ELECTED representatives.

Get control of the borders or we join the majority.

***
[...]

If Guatemala is really that bad, four other countries are obligated to take them in. Nowhere is the US "on the way" to any of those four countries.

I'd posit that they are not refugees fleeing from something, but running to something.

***

Not surprisingly the brilliant court decision interpreting the Flores Settlement to include not only unaccompanied alien children but accompanied children attempting to illegally cross the border was decided in California's US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. This produced the situation where you either release the adults with the children with an order to later appear at their immigration hearing - many disappearing into the interior of the country never to be seen by the courts again- or separate the children from the adults.

***

https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2016/07/06/15-56434.pdf

***
Like much of MSM WSJ calls the Zero Tolerance Policy Trump initiated in early May a "Family Separation Policy". Between FY 2016 and February 2018 107,000 unaccompanied children and most of more than 167,000 aliens in family units who were apprehended were released into the interior of the United States. Obama as well as Trump for the first 14-15 months of his administration chose to release most of the families together. 

However apprehensions by CBP were up over 200% in March and April this year compared to 2017. Last year alone there were 40,000 removal orders issued in absentia because the asylum seekers didn’t show up for their hearings. They were not respecting the conditions of their release and were legitimate flight risk so Trump decided to detain the adults until their case was settled. The Flores Settlement Agreement states you cannot detain the children for extended periods so they were separated.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration

***
Guatemala is a failed state. There is no guarantee of security, property rights, access to education, reasonable infrastructure on a national scale or much else that a government should provide to make its people successful. The Plan B for all these countries is to send people north to take some of the pressure off their government and allow those in power to loot the country as best they may.

There are no easy solutions but whatever solutions arise need to be implemented in-country, not by providing shelter and feeding illegal immigrants in the US. Programs can't be dollops of dollars or uncontrolled spending sprees; real investments in infrastructure projects, education and the guarantee of civil rights would be a big step forward. Privatization of things like roads, water supply and other areas can provide jobs, reliable income for the government and quality infrastructure. Efficient tax collection would also help.

***

I've spent a lot of time in the Quetzaltenago area and believe me it has nothing to do with Soros, or Hillary or your latest Democratic straw man. Indigenous people all know friends and family that have been successful in the USA - they send remittances back that keep a lot of families solvent. On the internet they see pictures of a better life up here so they come. A lot of them have a naive view of the dangers of transiting Mexico and crossing the border, "la linea". Guatemalans are hard workers. They take on tough construction jobs many Mexicans up here are unwilling to do. They are willing to work outdoors in very difficult conditions - roofing in the the summer in 100 degree temperatures.

***
[...]

In 2006, ICE raided six JBS Swift plants--in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Colorado and Utah-- and arrested some 1300 illegal immigrant workers. In addition to those arrested the companies lost many others who worked on a different shift, but who did not report for work because they feared federal agents would pick them up. All six plants resumed work on the day of the raids, but at a slower pace.

To recruit replacement workers Swift had a campaign to recruit American citizens, green card holders, and refugees. It raised wages, provided bonuses to new workers, and paid relocation expenses. All the Swift plants were able to resume full production within four or five months. 

As the Swift workers later said, these are jobs Americans are willing to do--if given decent wages and conditions. Between 1980 & 2007 wages in the in meat packing industry, adjusted for inflation, dropped by a 45 percent - the benefits of mass uncontrolled immigration.

***
Also agree it's a mistake for the US to try to compete globally by importing our own population of cheap compliant workers. It only delays technological innovation and moves us toward becoming a third world country. Use automation - not bodies- to perform back-breaking menial work. Example: In the 1960s with the imminent end of the Bracero Program and an expected shortage of laborers the tomato harvester was perfected and automated picking went from about 1% of Californian tomatoes in 1963 to 95% in 1968. [Pundita's emphasis]

***
Our government's own statistics suggest that they pay and indirectly generate much more in taxes than they receive in benefits,

https://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2016/oct/02/maria-teresa-kumar/how-much-do-undocumented-immigrants-pay-taxes/

***

... this note is part of the document you refer to ;

For the annual Trustees Reports, the President’s Budget, and other documents, OCACT projects the numbers of unauthorized immigrants residing in the United States, their earnings, and the implications of these earnings on Social Security financing. Our projections assume that unauthorized residents work at about the same rate as the rest of the population by age and sex, but earnings are less likely to be reported as taxable and even less likely to be credited for future benefit entitlement. Thus, our projections suggest that the presence of unauthorized workers in the United States has, on average, a positive effect on the financial status of the Social Security program. For the year 2010,1 we estimate that the excess of tax revenue paid to the Trust Funds over benefits paid from these funds based on earnings of unauthorized workers is about $12 billion

***

Absolutely FALSE. These illegals do not pay taxes as almost all are in the underground economy and pay NO taxes.

They also are still eligible for most of the local government sponsored programs such a s Public Education and Healthcare. If they bring kids they go to the local public schools which is normally the largest local expenditure and if they get sick they can go to any emergency room and get FREE healthcare as they simply don't pay any bills.

***

Nonsense.

First most Federal taxes paid by illegals are returned after filing because on paper they fall below the minimum threshold for income.

Second, analyses provided by illegal immigrant advocates such as Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO and president of Voto Latino, almost always exclude benefits provided to the over 4 million US-born birth-right citizens of illegal immigrant households, instead adding these costs to US citizen provided benefits to make a comparison.

***

Even if this were true, a nation is more than an economy.

Also, it was just reported that anchor baby births alone - of which there are 297,000 every year in the US - cost about $2.35 billion a year. That's just hospital birthing stays!

https://cis.org/Report/Births-Legal-and-Illegal-Immigrants-US

***

The article you linked specified that about 3.1 million out of 11 million undocumented immigrants paid into social security. Half of the amount in the article headline is the employers matching contribution.

Further in the article it says there is a deficit of $14,387 per family in services received over what had been paid in compared to benefits received.

What was rated true by politifact was a specific thing....that some undocumented immigrants had social security withheld from their paychecks.

***

Did you miss this part of the article? They are only looking at immigrants who pay taxes.

“According to the Social Security Administration, there were nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States in January 2009. Factoring out kids, nonworking immigrants and those working in the underground economy and not paying taxes, the Social Security Administration estimated about 3.1 million unauthorized immigrants who worked and paid Social Security taxes in 2010.“

New studies are showing the number of undocumented immigrants in this country is closer to 22 million. When looking at the cost to taxpayers, factor in benefits that the kids, the non working immigrants and those working in the underground economy use, and then see how the numbers tally up. Dont forget to add in the cost to educate each child per year, around 10k plus depending on the state, state benefits, medical costs, etc.

Also if you go on to read more of the article, of the 12 billion in taxes claimed to be paid by undocumented immigrants, 6 billion of that is actually paid by the employer. They then cite the Heritage group study , which states that half of undocumented immigrants pay no taxes, while the other half averages around 10k a year in tax payments, but receives around 24k a year in benefits.

***

Undocumented immigrants are better taken care of than our own citizens. They come to free library resources daily which are supported by our taxes, they come for homework help with tutors there free and provided, they come for free special remedial classes (provided), for care of elementary kids who are parked in the children's section of the tax payers dollars supported libraries. More and more English/Spanish classes have to be taught at local schools, paid for by our taxes. None of these above costs are figured into the costs of subsidizing illegal immigration. All of these benefits are in addition to: Free medical at urgent care, food stamps, low income housing, lawyer subsidies, etc. Not only are the costs listed above not figured into the costs of illegal immigration; they are not discussed in studies by academics because they are not aware of them.

***

Hard to believe this article fails to point out the significant role professional, human smugglers play in this surge of illegals coming from Guatemala and Central America. These smugglers, for a fee, of course, supply people with fake documents and visas to traverse Mexico, lie to them that families with children will not be deported, etc. The EU had the same problem with the professional human traffickers facilitating an invasion of ME refugees until they finally wised up and started cracking down on them. The result? The massive flow slowed to a trickle. The US needs to apply similar pressure on Mexico, Guatemala, et al, to arrest these culprits—start by withholding foreign aid or banning targeted exports. This isn’t rocket science...although for WSJ reporters, it may be.

***
Jo McInerney:

I'm always curious when illegals are caught that they tell the Border Patrol they paid the coyote up to $8,000.00. The cost of living in their countries is probably in the $5.00 a day range. If they are persistent enough to raise all that money, then they should be persistent enough to change their country's government and fight the cartels. It seems they never have a total revolution, they just flee and we pay the price.
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Saturday, October 13

"Africa has plenty of land. Why is it so hard to make a living from it?"

The Economist
April 28, 2018


Subsistence farmers cannot compete with commercial farms

SURROUNDED by tangled shrubland, Wisdom Mababe’s farm in central Zambia seems incongruously neat. “In 2002, when I started, it was bare bush,” he says. Each year since, he has bulldozed an area the size of 40 football pitches. Maize grows in ordered rows; cattle graze behind a fence. “The land, the water, it’s in abundance,” he gushes. Beyond his fields, the tall grass waves.

For most of its history, sub-Saharan Africa has been short of people, not land. In 2011 the World Bank estimated that the region had 200m hectares of suitable land that was not being used for crops—almost half of the world’s total, and more than the cultivated area of America. That potential excites many. “Africa is the future breadbasket of the world,” says Ephraim Nkonya of the International Food Policy Research Institute, a think-tank in Washington, DC.

Yet such aggregate figures may deceive. Most of Africa’s spare land lies in just a few big countries, such as Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In densely populated places (with more than 100 people per square kilometre of farmland), average farm sizes have shrunk by a third since the 1970s. The continent is already a net importer of food; by 2050 it may have twice as many bellies to fill. In hotspots like central Nigeria, clashes between crop-growing farmers and herders have killed thousands. Doom-mongers see a larger crisis brewing.

From Mr Mababe’s tranquil farm, such fears seem distant. Only a fifth of land in his district is being used, reckons the council chairman. A German company has bought 40,000 hectares of private land to grow maize and soya beans. The government is trying to lure other commercial outfits to designated “farm blocks” around a country twice as big as Germany, with fewer people than the Netherlands.

But even here, land is scarcer than it seems. The western half of the district is a national park. Locals complain that heavy-handed rangers on private game ranches stop them fishing and picking mushrooms. “This land we are in here, it’s not ours,” says one villager, “it’s for people who have money.” 

Human Rights Watch says that poor people in other districts are being evicted by commercial farms.

Despite talk of Africa’s unused land, few places are truly empty. “On a map it is like that,” says Mbumwae Nyambe, a paralegal with the Catholic church. “But when you go in the field you find there are already people there.”

Uncultivated land is used for grazing, foraging or hunting. Occupiers are often surprised to hear themselves labelled as squatters. In northern Uganda people returning home after being displaced by war found their “empty” fields had been dished out among generals, tycoons and conservationists.

Perhaps a tenth of Africa’s cultivated land is now in the hands of big business, which uses most of it for biofuels, timber and other non-food crops. As significant is the rise of mid-size farms (those between five and 100 hectares), often owned by civil servants in the cities. “They have the political connections,” says Thomas Jayne of Michigan State University. Many are not serious farmers. Those who own more than 20 hectares often leave most of it idle.

Middling farms now cover more of Zambia than small ones. Meanwhile squeezed smallholders farm their shrinking plots too intensively, degrading already poor soils. This happens even in spacious countries because people are concentrated along roads and in towns.

This presents a conundrum. Better seeds and fertiliser, as well as niftier techniques, could send Africa’s farm yields soaring. But mechanised commercial farms do not provide as many jobs as subsistence agriculture. Most Africans still live in the countryside. That life there is so tough is why they are abandoning it faster than people on any other continent.

[END REPORT]

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Thursday, October 11

Stark limits of irrigation farming emerge as aquifers around the world deplete

Aquifer depletion due largely to irrigation is happening in virtually every region of the world that engages in intensive farming. Nowhere is the situation more alarming than on America's Great Plains (central plains), where farmers rely on the Ogallala aquifer, one of the world's largest aquifers, to produce one-sixth of the grain harvests for the world's population. 

Irrigation for farming is causing the aquifer's water table to drop by as much as two feet a year in some of the plains region but it can only recharge at the rate of about three inches annually. That's in the years with decent rainfall, but the Great Plains has the same weather cycle as the Sahel, which is about 20 years of decent rain followed by about 5-7 years of almost no rain. 

Yet even in the 'fat' years of rainfall and snowmelt, the Ogallala recharge rate is measly because its sand and gravel composition slows the downward flow of surface waters. The upshot is that water depletion in some areas that rely on the Ogallala has reached crisis levels, and the trend is accelerating.

Great Plains farmers are well-aware of the strain on the aquifer but few are willing to change their irrigation-dependent method of farming. This is despite the fact that an experiment by some farmers to cut back 20 percent on the amount of Ogallala water they used didn't reduce their profits. 

The second report I feature below details why farmers in the region are reluctant to change practices that are clearly self-destructive. But it comes down to 'culture' -- a way of life that hangs on due to tradition and inertia.

The culture has to change, and fast. Yet it's been getting a pass largely due to inattention from the news media, which has translated to public inattention. So until there is a revolution in mass media, the third great wave in farming modernization -- the one that can save civilization -- will be swimming against the tide. 

The first wave was an engineering revolution; the second was a biochemical/chemical one. The third revolution is interdisciplinary sharing of knowledge -- a revolution that is happening in many sectors of endeavor, not just in farming. 

A challenge is that the third wave is making much about the two earlier revolutions in farming obsolete or subject to radical revision. That means the third wave will be sweeping in on the winds of catastrophes that force societies into new ways of thinking. Not a pleasant way to change but that's the way things are shaping up.

For now, there are some farmers on the Great Plains who aren't waiting for the culture to change. From one of the reports below:
Some far-sighted farmers are responding to these interlocking challenges. Even as they pursue efficiencies in irrigation, many are shifting from water-intensive crops like cotton to wheat.
Still others, notably in west Texas, are converting back to non-irrigated dryland agriculture — a recognition of the stark limitations of irrigation dependency.
Farmers who are depleting other aquifers -- in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia -- could will face similar choices.
Now for two illuminating reports on the Ogallala aquifer crisis:

Farmers are drawing groundwater from the giant Ogallala Aquifer faster than nature replaces it
By Char Miller
August 7, 2018
The Conversation


One of the Largest Aquifers in the World Is Disappearing Because of Farmers

Without conservation efforts, a critical water source will soon go dry.

Every summer the US Central Plains go dry, leading farmers to tap into groundwater to irrigate sorghum, soy, cotton, wheat, and corn, and maintain large herds of cattle and hogs. As the heat rises, anxious irrigators gather to discuss whether and how they should adopt more stringent conservation measures.

They know that if they do not conserve, the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of their prosperity, will go dry. The Ogallala, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, is one of the largest underground freshwater sources in the world. It underlies an estimated 174,000 square miles of the Central Plains and holds as much water as Lake Huron. It irrigates portions of eight states, from Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska in the North to Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas in the South.

But the current drought plaguing the region is unusually strong and persistent, driving farmers to rely more on the aquifer and sharpening the debate over its future. A current assessment by the US Drought Monitor, published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows large swaths of the southern plains experiencing drought ranging from “severe” to “exceptional.”

[GRAPHIC: US Drought Monitor, July 31, 2018 released August 3,]

These worrisome prospects form the dramatic backdrop to Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land, now out in its third edition. In it, my fellow historians John Opie and Kenna Lang Archer and I set current debates over the Ogallala Aquifer in the context of the region’s equally conflicted past.

Draining the Source

In the 1880s, farmers in the region asserted that there was a steady movement of water beneath their feet, which they called “underflow,” from the Rockies east. Geologist F.N. Darton of the US Geological Survey located the first outlines of the aquifer near Ogallala, Nebraska. His discovery nourished the ambitions of farmers and irrigation promoters. 


One booster, William E. Smythe, visited Garden City, Kansas, and cheered the irrigated future. Pumping underground water, he told his audience, would build “little homes of pleasing architecture. We will surround them with pretty lawns and fringe them with trees and hedges … in a new Kansas dedicated to industrial independence.”

[GRAPHIC: Ogallala Aquifer water-level changes from pre-development (about 1950) to 2015]

That bucolic vision took decades to realize. Windmills could only pump so much water, which constrained the amount of land farmers could put into production. And the Ogallala’s sand and gravel composition slowed the downward flow of surface waters to refill it, even in wet seasons.

This did not matter until farmers started adopting better drilling technology, gas-powered water pumps, and high-tech irrigation systems after World War II. These advances turned the Central Plains into the world’s breadbasket and meat market, annually generating $20 billion worth of foodstuff.

As more pumps were drilled into the aquifer to capture its flow, some started to come up dry, which led to more drilling and pumping. Between the late 19th century and 2005, the US Geological Survey estimates irrigation depleted the aquifer by 253 million acre-feet — about nine percent of its total volume. And the pace is accelerating. Analyzing federal data, the Denver Post found that the aquifer shrank twice as fast from 2011 through 2017 as it had over the previous 60 years.

The current drought is only adding to these woes. University of California-Irvine hydrologist Jay Famiglietti has identified the Ogallala region and California’s Central Valley as the two most overheated and water-starved areas in the United States.

Relying on Technological Fixes

This is not the first time that humans have pushed ecosystems on the Central Plains to the breaking point. Starting in the late 19th century, settler-colonists plowed up native grasses that protected the soil. When a series of intense droughts struck in the 1930s, dried-out topsoil was primed to erode in the infamous Dust Bowl. Howling windstorms widely known as “black blizzards” blotted out the sun, blowing away exposed soil and displacing much of the human population.

Farmers who hung on through World War II placed their hope in highly engineered solutions, such as high-powered pumps and center-pivot irrigation systems. These innovations, along with ongoing experiments to determine the most profitable kind of crops to grow and animals to raise, profoundly altered global food systems and the lives and livelihoods of Plains farmers.

Today some advocates support a similar fix for farmers’ water needs: The so-called Great Canal of Kansas, which would pump vast quantities of water from the Missouri River in the east over 360 miles west to the most arid Kansas counties. However, this project could cost up to $20 billion to build and require annual energy outlays of $500 million. It is unlikely to be constructed, and would be a Band-Aid solution if it were.

[GRAPHIC: Crop circles in Finney County, Kansas, denote irrigated plots using water from the Ogallala Aquifer.]

The End of Irrigation?

In my view, Plains farmers cannot afford to continue pushing land and water resources beyond their limits — especially in light of climate change’s cumulative impact on the Central Plains. For example, a recent study posits that as droughts bake the land, lack of moisture in the soil actually spikes temperatures. And as the air heats up, it further desiccates the soil.

This vicious cycle will accelerate the rate of depletion. And once the Ogallala is emptied, it could take 6,000 years to recharge naturally. In the words of Brent Rogers, a director of Kansas Groundwater Management District 4, there are “too many straws in too small of a cup.”

Some far-sighted farmers are responding to these interlocking challenges. Even as they pursue efficiencies in irrigation, many are shifting from water-intense crops like cotton to wheat. Still others, notably in west Texas, are converting back to non-irrigated dryland agriculture — a recognition of the stark limitations of irrigation dependency. Farmers who are depleting other aquifers in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia could face similar choices.

Whether these initiatives will become widespread, or can sustain agriculture on the Central Plains, is an open question. But should instead farmers and ranchers drain the Ogallala Aquifer in pursuit of quick profits, the region may never recover.

[END REPORT]


Crisis on the High Plains: The Loss of America’s Largest Aquifer – the Ogallala
By Jeremy Frankel
May 17, 2018
University of Denver Water Law Review

The grain-growing region in the High Plains of America—known as America’s breadbasket—relies entirely on the Ogallala Aquifer. But long term unsustainable use of the aquifer is forcing states in the region to face the prospect of a regional economic disaster. As the High Plains states reach the verge of a major crisis, the states have taken different approaches to conservation with varying results.

The Ogallala Aquifer supports an astounding one-sixth of the world’s grain produce, and it has long been an essential component of American agriculture. The High Plains region—where the aquifer lies—relies on the aquifer for residential and industrial uses, but the aquifer’s water is used primarily for agricultural irrigation. The agricultural demands for Ogallala water in the region are immense, with the aquifer ultimately being responsible for thirty percent of all irrigation in the United States. The Ogallala Aquifer has long been unable to keep up with these agricultural demands, as the aquifer recharges far slower than water is withdrawn.

Aside from the obvious agricultural ramifications from the Ogallala’s depletion, recent studies have shown that groundwater depletion also has a severe effect on freshwater ecosystems in the region. Each state has had to confront the issue in their own way, but the depletion of the aquifer has become severe enough to warrant the attention of the federal government as well. At the state level, the focus has been on maintaining an orderly depletion of the aquifer rather than developing a plan for sustainable use. However, some states have achieved some level of success in slowing down the aquifer’s depletion. 

Kansas, for example, has recently achieved mild success by adopting a program that put conservation in the hands of the State’s farmers. On the other hand, Nebraska has seen more success than Kansas by being tougher on farmers and exercising its enforcement powers. The federal government has also set up financial and technical assistance for farmers who commit to conservation and is funding large-scale pipeline projects to bring in water to the more desperate areas of the High Plains.

[GRAPHIC: Map of the Ogallala Aquifer identifying areas of depletion.]

The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, underlies eight different states, stretching across America’s High Plains from South Dakota down to Northern Texas. It is an unconfined aquifer that is recharged almost exclusively by rainwater and snowmelt, but given the semiarid climate of the High Plains, recharge is minimal. In some areas, the water table is dropping as much as two feet a year, but recharge in the aquifer only averages around three inches annually.

The aquifer provides nearly all of the water for residential, industrial, and agricultural uses in the High Plains region. Irrigated agriculture is particularly straining on the aquifer as the region is responsible for one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton, and cattle produced in the United States. The High Plains actually leads the entire Western Hemisphere in irrigation with fourteen million acres irrigated annually, primarily in Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas. Accordingly, farming accounts for an astounding ninety-four percent of groundwater use in the region.

The resulting strain on the aquifer has been apparent for decades as recharge in the semiarid region has been unable to keep up with such a high demand. Because of the continuous decline in the aquifer, some areas that traditionally relied on the aquifer for irrigation are now unable to do so. “We are basically drying out the Great Plains,” according to Kurt Fausch, a professor at Colorado State University who studies the Ogallala. In Western Kansas, for example, water levels have declined by up to sixty percent in some areas as the gap between what is withdrawn for irrigation and what is recharged continues to expand. In northwest Texas, so much water has been pumped and so little recharged that irrigation has largely depleted the aquifer in the area.

Effects of Depletion

Without Ogallala water, significant portions of the High Plain’s agriculture and related businesses are entirely unsustainable, which could threaten the existence of entire towns whose economies are dependent on water drawn from the aquifer. There are global implications as well, as the region produces one-sixth of the world’s grain produce. A study from Kansas State University predicted that the aquifer would be seventy percent depleted by 2060 if irrigation practices do not change. However, the study further predicted that the aquifer could potentially last up to one hundred more years if all farmers in the region cut their use by twenty percent.

Aside from the devastating effects on agriculture, a study recently published by a team of stream ecologists concluded that depletions to the Ogallala Aquifer are also leading to fish extinctions in the region. Streams and rivers that depend on the aquifer are drying out after decades of over-pumping. The study found pumping to be associated with collapses of large-stream fish and the simultaneous expansion of small-stream fish. This creates a catalyst for biotic homogenization, which in turn leads to less resilient aquatic communities and loss of ecosystem functions. The study predicts an additional loss of 286 kilometers of stream by 2060, as well as the continued replacement of large-stream fish by fish suited for smaller streams.

Addressing Depletion at the State Level

The High Plains states are accustomed to periods of water shortages, and, accordingly, these states have all established the statutory or regulatory power to strictly control groundwater use. However, while the High Plains states all have the legislative authority to regulate use of the Ogallala aquifer to ensure sustainable use, some states have been more or less hesitant to exercise those powers. Those states that do not strictly regulate groundwater have instead chosen to leave conservation in part to the water users themselves. 

Two states in particular have highly diverged in their approach to regulating groundwater—Kansas and Nebraska.Each state has legislation in place allowing the government to force farmers to reduce water use, but while Nebraska has actively used that power, Kansas has been much more hesitant.

In Kansas, the state’s chief engineer has the statutory power to designate an Intensive Groundwater Use Control Area to preserve the aquifer when required by the conditions. In exercising that power, the chief engineer can dramatically cut water applications for farmers and close applications for new water rights. The chief engineer has exercised that power several times in the last few decades, but Kansas state officials are often reluctant to do so.

The director of the Kansas Water Office, Tracy Streeter, said, “We think it’s a harsh method. We would like to see groups of irrigators come together and work out a solution.”

Accordingly, the Kansas State Legislature amended the state’s water laws to allow groups of farmers and irrigators to voluntarily create Local Enhanced Management Areas (“LEMA(s)”) where they can implement their own groundwater conservation plans. These plans are then subject to approval by the state. Once approved, the plan becomes legally binding. One group of farmers has set up a ninety-nine square mile conservation zone where they agreed to a twenty percent reduction in irrigation for five years. After four years, they have steadily achieved their twenty percent reduction rate while, significantly, not seeing a reduction in profits. Some of their success has also been due in part to the implementation of drip irrigation and more sophisticated irrigation water management.

While that is a step in the right direction, this group of farmers is still the only group that has submitted a plan in Kansas. This arrangement has proven its potential for success, but the question remains on whether it is scalable for the rest of the state. The fact that only one group has formed is likely due to how difficult it is to create one—here, talks lasted three years before boundaries were agreed upon, and members of the group said they had to change their whole mindset and culture to come to an agreement.

Nebraska has taken a tougher stance than Kansas, and consequently has had more success in combating aquifer depletion. The Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act allows the state government to limit irrigators’ water allocations as well as implement programs such as rotating water permits. Nebraska has also compromised with farmers, adopting a system like Kansas that empowers farmers and gives them control—so long as they come up with a plan to reduce use of the aquifer. 


The approach the state has taken has allowed Nebraska to sustain water levels—or at least slow depletion—in the Ogallala Aquifer better than most other High Plains states. Despite their success, however, the aquifer in Nebraska is still continuously depleting, and annual allocations to farmers have been steadily decreasing.

Addressing Depletion at the Federal Level

Interstate compacts — created and enforced through federal law — have played a critical role in driving state efforts to curtail groundwater use. For example, part of the reason Nebraska has taken such a tough stance on groundwater pumping is because of their obligations to Kansas under the Republic River Compact. 


The Compact apportions Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas each a supply of “virgin water” that is undepleted by human activity from the Republican River Basin, which is primarily drained by the Republican River and its tributaries. Much of the water from the Basin passes through Nebraska before entering Kansas via the Republican River, and Nebraska must limit water consumption to comply with the state’s obligations to Kansas under the Compact.

As the Ogallala aquifer feeds into the Republican River, Nebraska has had to limit its use of the aquifer to comply with the Compact, which has resulted in a more sustainable use of the aquifer but also lowers crop yields for farmers.

The federal government itself has addressed the issue of the depleting Ogallala by instituting the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative. The Initiative works by providing technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that use less water, improve water quality, and keep croplands productive. 


The Initiative benefits agricultural producers by cutting costs for water, cutting costs for energy to power irrigation systems, and increasing crop yields. Extending the life of the aquifer also benefits the public at large, as the public directly benefits from irrigation with Ogallala water.

In New Mexico, circumstances are more critical, prompting the federal government to take a more drastic approach. In eastern New Mexico specifically, the Ogallala aquifer has depleted to the point of crisis. 
To make matters worse, alternative sources of water in the area are primarily located along the border with Texas, where oil and gas development dominates water use. 

For its part, New Mexico has started reviewing hydrological information before renewing or approving new access to drill wells that involve using Ogallala water. The federal government has also stepped in, investing in a pipeline project called the Ute pipeline, which has recently required an additional investment of five million dollars. The project is designed to eventually bring billions of gallons of drinking water to eastern New Mexico from nearby Ute Lake.

Conclusion

The Governor of Kansas, after seeing the success of the one and only LEMA group in the state, has recently declared that Kansas has been producing real results towards water conservation and that Kansas’s status as a breadbasket for the nation has been secured. However, it is important to remember to contextualize this success; it is only one group in an area less than one hundred square miles, meaning that the Ogallala is far from saved. 

And while there is value in allowing farmers to voluntarily take the reins in conserving the Ogallala, it is clear that they are not jumping at the opportunity to do so. The farmers themselves have commented that it is going to take a whole change of culture in the region to see the results that the Kansas legislature envisioned from the LEMA program—an uphill battle that certainly will not happen overnight. 

Nebraska is at least seeing some more substantial results from their hardline policies, which may be the direction the High Plains states need to take to avoid a major crisis. While the Ogallala may not be able to be completely saved at this point, it is certainly worth preserving for as long as possible, and states should not hold back in using their enforcement powers to do so.

Jeremy Frankel

Sources

Brian Jacobs et al., A Vanishing Aquifer, Nat’l Geographic (Aug. 2016), http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/08/vanishing-aquifer-interactive-map.

Edwin Gutentag et al., U.S. Geological Survey, Geohydrology of the High Plains Aquifer in Parts of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming (1984).

Effort to Manage Ogallala Aquifer Irrigation Falls Flat, Ag Web, https://www.agweb.com/article/effort-to-manage-ogallala-aquifer-irrigation-falls-flat.

Governor issues statement on attainability of sustainable yield from Ogallala Aquifer, HAYS POST (July 20, 2017), https://www.hayspost.com/2017/07/20/governor-issues-statement-on-attainability-of-sustainable-yield-from-ogallala-aquifer.

High Plains Aquifer Groundwater Levels Continue to Decline, U.S. Geological Surv. (June 2017), https://www.usgs.gov/news/usgs-high-plains-aquifer-groundwater-levels-continue-decline.

High Plains Water-Level Monitoring Study, U.S. Geological Surv., https://ne.water.usgs.gov/ogw/hpwlms.

Hill v. State, 894 N.W.2d 208 (Neb. 2017)

Jane Little, The Ogallala Aquifer: Saving a Vital U.S. Water Source, Scientific Am. (March 1, 2009), https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-ogallala-aquifer.

Joshua Perkin et al., Groundwater Declines Are Linked To Changes in Great Plains Stream Fish Assemblage (B.L. Turner ed. 2017).

Kan. Admin. Regs. § 5-20-1 (2017).

Karen Dillon, Ogallala water continues to pour onto farm fields despite decades of dire forecasts, Lawrence J.-World (Sept. 27, 2014), http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2014/sep/27/ogallala-water-continues-pore-farm-fields-despite.

Mary Guiden, Groundwater pumping drying up Great Plains streams, driving fish extinctions, Colo. State U. (July 2017), https://source.colostate.edu/groundwater-pumping-drying-great-plains-streams-driving-fish-extinctions.

Ogallala Aquifer, Tex. Water Development Board, http://www.twdb.texas.gov/groundwater/aquifer/majors/ogallala.asp.

Ogallala Aquifer Intiative, U.S.D.A., https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/national/programs/initiatives/?cid=stelprdb1048809.

Rex Buchanan et al., The High Plains Aquifer (2015).

Susan Bryan, Effort to Bring Water to Eastern New Mexico Inches Along, U.S. News (July 14, 2017), https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-mexico/articles/2017-07-14/effort-to-bring-water-to-eastern-new-mexico-inches-along.

U.S.D.A., Groundwater Irrigation and Water Withdrawals: The Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (2013).

Virginia McGuire, Water-Level and Recoverable Water in Storage Changes High Plains Aquifer (2017).

[END REPORT]


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