California's Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) will try again next year to close a loophole through which big, mostly corporate, farms get cheap water that Congress meant only for family farms.
His proposal, which sailed through the House last year by a 3-to-1 margin, makes sense in a couple of ways.
In the first place, the federal government got into the irrigation business in the early 1900s to encourage settlement of western lands. The only farms that could qualify for subsidized water were those of 160 acres or less.
During the Great Depression, Washington took over California's Central Valley Project, because the state could not afford the dams and canals that turned the San Joaquin Valley into one of the world's richest farmlands.
In 1982, Congress redefined a small farm as one under 960 acres. That left a loophole under which corporate farms carve themselves into 960-acre trusts or partnerships, each of which qualifies for subsidized water.