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Farmers Aren't Doing Fair Share in Drought

May 19, 1991

As I read Maria LaGanga's article, "Farmers Also Face a Loan Drought" (March 28), I could not help but feel a little bit of sympathy for California farmers. The ruthless banks are basing the amount of loans on farmers' water supply.

It is the farmers' attitude toward the water supply, not the banks' actions, that is the source of the problem. If farmers were paying the true market price of water, rather than the drastically discounted price the government has given them, they would have a more conservative attitude about water use.

Their cost for water is so far below market price that they can afford to be inefficient. If farmers would conserve, the banks would not have to worry about them running out of water before their crops are harvested.

LaGanga did not mention the benefits to taxpayers of farmers receiving fewer loans. In the past, the government has implemented many programs to help farmers and the non-farm public, including acreage restrictions, under which the government pays them not to farm a portion of their land.

Unfortunately, farmers have figured out ways to receive this aid and continue to produce virtually the same output. With the banks' restrictions on loans, they are faced with restrictions on not only their land but also their capital. Thus, the supply is reduced, which enforces the acreage restriction better than the government could ever do. The price to consumers would be unaffected, the farmers would still receive their aid and the taxpayers' money would be used effectively, instead of helping farmers outwit the government.

The drought is a problem for everyone. Farmers should stop whining that they are being treated unfairly and start doing their fair share to conserve water and play by the rules.

HOLLY M. MAHAN

Santa Clarita

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