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Enforce existing groundwater pumping limits

The United States can be more strict in enforcing groundwater pumping limits established in the Reclamation Reform Act (RRA) of 1982. Federal law outlined in the RRA only allotted federally subsidized irrigation water to farms of 960 acres or less. One report found that California's large farms have been consistently violating acreage limits by presenting themselves as multiple small farms (Villarejo and Redmon, 1989). The study found that after the RRA was passed, 49% of the land in California's Westlands Water District were still controlled by only 50 different operations, resulting in an estimated average farm size of 1,312 acres. Successful enforcement of groundwater pumping limits would mean that only farms that actually meet size requirements would receive water subsidizes. Large farming operations would not be allowed to bypass the RRA by ``technically'' decreasing the size of their farm on paper. Large farms would have to pay full price for the water they withdraw, giving smaller-scale farms a competitive edge. Smaller farm sizes have an added benefit of improving social conditions in the rural west. Researchers have shown that smaller farm sizes are accompanied by better social conditions in the communities surrounding the farm (Villarejo and Redmon, 1989).


next up previous contents
Next: Alter current irrigation subsidies Up: Quantity-Focused Policies Previous: Fund the construction of   Contents
Andy Wingo 2001-12-10