Opinion: EID’s Industrial Planning Politics
The EID board once again will take up “small farm” qualification criteria at its July 14th board meeting. This is a continuation of EID’s ongoing industrial planning politics as our local water agency picks and chooses another special interest to subsidize at the more than $1 million expense of 35,000 residential ratepayers that provide more than five-sixths of the district’s rate revenue.
How can EID justify providing far below cost water to 720 non-commercial small and micro-farms? How can 2% of EID ratepayers wastefully consume 7% of EID’s sold water but pay just 1.5% of EID’s revenues?
Agriculture undeniably is an important part of El Dorado County’s heritage and identity but it long since has ceased being our County’s most important economic activity. In 2008, agriculture contributed a mere 2% to the economic value of El Dorado County’s $1.8 billion economy according to The California Economic Development study. Most of that 2% came from 60-70 real farms, not from 720 micro-farmers and olive tree hobbyists that need only to show ANNUAL REVENUE of as little as $1,000 to qualify for EID’s 93% discounted small farm rate.
Why should residential ratepayers pay 17 times more for the same water than micro farms that generate as little as $1,000 in sales per year? Even the current $3,500 annual revenue requirement is not a viable business.
EID continues to engage in industrial planning politics that picks winners and losers to cleave to the past and cater to an economically moribund industry. But growth of agriculture is not the path to economic prosperity and deep subsidies to any economic sector is definitely not the American way of free markets.