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Housing Crop Isn't Food for the Soul

June 01, 2003

Re "Farms Losing Ground to Expanding Cities," May 25: As more land is converted from farms and ranches to homes and highways, a small subtraction is being made to our quality of life. While the California Avocado Commission and its 6,000 members have a vested interest in retaining their way of life, that self-interest does not detract from the reality that farms, green trees, fields of flowers and other expanses of things growing throughout Southern California are comforting and soothing and have a positive impact on the psyche.

Alvin D. Sokolow notes that water will be one of the limiting factors that will lead to the demise of agriculture in the Southern California area. We agree that when a homeowner willingly pays $800 for an acre-foot of water, the high value (as opposed to the cost) of the water indeed drives agriculturists out of the area. And that would be a shame. An acre of housing uses about the same amount of water as an acre of agriculture.

Thus, the conversion of agricultural land to housing saves no water -- it only raises the value and the cost of the water available. Society needs to make a conscious decision that retaining some land in an urban setting for agricultural use is good for the economy, good for the climate and good for the soul.

Don Reeder


Southern California

Agricultural Water Team

California Avocado

Commission, Irvine

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