The Times in its editorial, "Don't Let All This Rain Fool You" (Feb. 11), has once again applied its standard criteria to the evaluation of any proposed policy initiative. If it's bad for farmers, it must be good.
In supporting Sen. J. Bennett Johnston's (D-La.) so-called "compromise" bill that would make water a commodity instead of a public resource, you are calling for the creation of a new endangered species, the California farmer. There is no way a farmer can afford to pay what an urban area can pay for water.
A policy that solves the water problems of one sector at the expense of another simply won't work. Agriculture is still the largest single industry we have. And unlike other industries it doesn't leave the state when times get tough.
The Times dismisses the ongoing talks between cities, environmentalists and agriculture as too slow to produce consensus. In your impatience, you overlook an important point. Our only chance of breaking the policy gridlock that has paralyzed the advancement of solutions to our water problems is consensus. Johnston's solutions are non-consensus driven. Rather, they seek to solve urban and environmental problems by ravaging agriculture. Such an approach will never succeed.
In the current drought emergency, farmers have given up huge amounts of their water to keep city faucets from going dry. They have endured immeasurable hardships in the process. Now, The Times supports legislation that would administer the \o7 coup de grace\f7 , the final blow that would make farming in California little more than a distant memory for future generations.
We hope Gov. Pete Wilson has the wisdom and the courage to continue to resist federal initiatives that can only result in disaster for California.
STEPHEN K. HALL
California Farm Water Coalition