Cuyama Valley small farmers and residents are calling for a boycott against Bolthouse and Grimmway Farms. It all has to do with California’s effort to manage groundwater. When California lawmakers enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, it was an effort to tame the wild, wild west of water. Nearly a decade later, there’s been some progress creating local sustainability plans, but Big Ag corporations are still hogging water and bullying smaller groundwater users.
The Cuyama Valley sits about 120 miles northwest of Los Angeles, just below the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The Cuyama Basin is entirely groundwater dependent, relying on rainwater to recharge its supply because there are no water delivery canals. And yet this valley boasts an estimated 16,000 acres of irrigated crops: pistachio trees, grape vines, and carrots among them.
The problem is that more water is being pumped from the ground than is being replenished. Cuyama Valley is one of California’s 21 over-pumped, or “critically overdrafted” basins. These basins are the regions where overhauling water management is most urgent, so they are where the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is being put to the test first.