Opinion - "Small Farms" are fake commercial farms used to get discounted water
Poor EID polices have exacerbated the severe drought in El Dorado County. As 35,000 EID residential customers sacrifice vegetation at their homes to reduce water consumption to meet drought goals, EID moves to further relax criteria for the discounted “Small Farm” water category. This seems like very bad policy in light that two studies by UC Davis and New Mexico State University concluded that subsidized water to farmers results in increased water use.
EID’s current 720 “Small Farm” customers collectively receive a $1.6 million discount below regular residential rates. Approximately 500 of the 720 current EID “Small Farm” customers, were added in the last two years. Is El Dorado County having an agriculture explosion unseen in the rest of the nation? No, EID’s current minimum criteria of 1 acre of property and 24 olive, walnut, chestnut or pecan trees qualifies you for the “Small Farm” water rate that is 17 times less expensive than the residential rate.
This policy has allowed an explosion of fake small farms that have no commercial intention. And who is footing the bill for all these cheaters? We are, EID residential customers.
The IRS identifies a true small farm as a full-time business and disqualifies “hobby farms” when giving tax breaks afforded small farm owners. EID should note that the IRS designation “hobby farm,” such as the 500 added in the last two years, are mostly wealthy people looking to avoid paying a fair price for water on pastoral spreads, horse shelters, gardens, vineyards and ranchettes that are exclusively for leisure and enjoyment.
Just as the IRS has curtailed these freeloaders, so should EID.
El Dorado Hills