U.S. Farmers plan to blockade three bridges from Mexico; Farmers Betrayed by
USDA & IBWC


May 2, 2002
From: Randy Givens
grgivens@acnet.net

We need your help!

U.S. Farmers on the Lower Rio Grande are being hit with a triple whammy.  

First - we are in a drought.

Second - Mexico has stolen water which is rightfully ours, and

Third - our Government has betrayed us. (three news articles attached below
to support these facts)

We could survive the drought, if Mexico would live up to the 1944 Treaty,
which divided up the waters of the Lower Rio Grande and the Colorado River
between Arizona and California. 

Under that Treaty, Mexico gets 5 times as much water from the U.S. as the
U.S. gets from Mexico. 

Instead of living up to that Treaty, Mexico has drastically expanded farming
into the deserts of the state of Chihuahua, including switching to more
water-intensive crops. 

That additional water should have come to U.S. farmers, instead Mexico is
using it to grow crops and flood U.S. markets with them (see third article
below).

Our Congressman has scheduled a Congressional Hearing on Water, in
Brownsville on May 3, 2002. 

To document the horrific losses to our economy, he asked the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA) to prepare a report on the extensive economic damage
caused by the Mexican water theft. 

The USDA did a "slow roll" on us, and waited until the last minute to issue a
report that says nothing (see first and second article below).  USDA claims
that it didn't have the data it needed -- poppycock!  We can find that kind
of material in any pasture full of bulls.  

The information is readily available, it's just that USDA apparently chose to
do a sloppy job.

To add more insult, the International Boundary Water Commission (IBWC), which
was supposed to be protecting our interests (while Mexico was stealing our
water) -- was also supposed to be preparing a report analyzing Mexico's use
of our water.  The report was prepared all right -- but it was reportedly
gutted by bureaucrats who were afraid of offending Mexico (see second
article).  You see, IBWC is under the U.S. Department of State and their
"diplomatic" tendencies to not rock the boat have left us high and dry!  From
our calculations, Mexico has inflicted at least a Billion dollars in damage
to our economy.

Our farmers are fed up!!  We have been flimflammed, lied to, and insulted. 
Newspapers report that our farmers are planning to block at least 3
international bridges across the Rio Grande.  That might get us some
attention, but it will be too late to block the flow of Mexican onions (which
were grown with our water) that has recently flooded our markets (see last
article).

Please spread this message to anyone you think might be interested and let
them know our farmers need help!!  All we're asking is that we get the water
that is rightfully ours, and we not be sacrificed to Political Correctness to
appease Mexico.  We need Congress, and our Government, to support Congressman
Ortiz in demanding that we get our water from Mexico - NOW!!  Our crops are
dying in the fields, we can't wait until Mexico decides to give us our water.

In my opinion, Mexico should get NOTHING from the U.S. until we get our water!

Sincerely,
Randy Givens
Bayview, Texas 78566

=========== First Article=========
 
Farmers plan to blockade three bridges

Protest over inability to enforce 1944 U.S. -- Mexico water treaty

By STEVE TAYLOR
Valley Morning Star

AUSTIN - Angry Rio Grande Valley and Tamaulipas farmers are planning to
blockade three international bridges in protest of the State Department's
failure to get Mexico to comply with international treaty obligations.

The protest, which is being finalized by growers today, coincides with harsh
criticism from Valley irrigation district managers that key interpretative
sections of a federal report into water delivery from the Rio Conchos Basin
were omitted to appease Mexico.

The 50-page report by the United States Section of the International Boundary
and Water Commission confirms that the state of Chihuahua used ten times more
water than that owed to the United States under a 1944 treaty.

"We're planning to block at least three bridges and we hope Mexican farmers
from Tamaulipas will join us," said Mike England, a Mercedes farmer who grows
cotton, seed corn, sorghum and vegetables.

"It is sad that it has come to this but we have been backed into a corner. 
Farmers are united on this because many are on the verge of bankruptcy.  We
want to hold our elected officials responsible for the promises they have
made and not kept."

England first made the threat of a blockade when he met Assistant Secretary
of State Otto Reich in Washington last week.  England said Texas Agriculture
Commissioner Susan Combs, who accompanied a delegation of Valley farmers to
Washington, had urged him to tell Reich so that the government knew of their
anguish.

England said members of the Matamoros Agricultural Association were being
encouraged to join the blockade on the Mexican side of the bridges and that
full details would be hatched at a secret location in the Valley on Thursday.
 He would not say when the blockade would take place.

"The poor guys on the Mexican side are hurting worse than us, they haven't
had irrigation water for two cycles now.  If I had any spare water I'd give
it to them," added England.

The U.S.  House Subcommittee on Water and Power is holding a congressional
field hearing to hear the plight of Valley farmers at the University of
Texas-Brownsville on Friday.  England said he doubted that federal government
officials attending the hearing could pacify his colleagues.

Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico is required to deliver 350,000 acre-feet of water
into the Rio Grande from the Rio Conchos and other northern Mexico
tributaries each year.  An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, the amount necessary
to cover one acre of land, one-foot deep with water.

According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, Mexico is
around 1.5 million-acre feet of water in arrears.

Additionally, Mexico has released only two-thirds of the 600,000 acre-feet of
water it promised under Minute Order 307, signed by Presidents Bush and Fox
in March 2001.

Mexican Embassy press officer Miguel Monterrubio on Wednesday repeated his
country's claim that they were in compliance with the treaty and that Mexico
has the next five years to repay its water debt.  The treaty operates on
five-year cycles.

"The bottom line is that if Mexico had properly managed this large amount of
water, it would only have taken 10 percent of its total volume to meet its
treaty obligations," said Ray Prewett, executive vice-president of Texas
Citrus Mutual and a founder member of Texans for Treaty Compliance.

Jo Jo White, general manager of Mercedes Irrigation District, said Valley
farmers would be furious to learn that key interpretive sections of the
report had been left out.

"The description explaining some of the key data should have been included
but wasn't. This would have indicated much more graphically what Mexico has
actually done," said White.

Carlos Marin, IBWC's principal engineer, could not be reached for comment. 
Sally Spener, public affairs officer for IBWC, said she did not know of any
internal disputes within her agency over what material should be published.

"The intent of the report is to make the data available to the public.  The
report does not represent the individual views of one particular person; it
represents the views of the IBWC.  The report went through our internal
review process," said Spener.

2000, Valley Morning Star, a Freedom Communications, Inc.  Company.  All
rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Valley Morning Star, the Rio Grande Valley's
newspaper.

http://www.valleystar.com/files/n205023.htm

==========Second Article ============

Ortiz: Water report 'lousy'

Congressman: Study little value to Valley


By STEVE TAYLOR
Valley Morning Star

AUSTIN - An eagerly awaited federal study on the economic losses Rio Grande
Valley farmers have suffered because of the U.S. -- Mexico water treaty
dispute has been branded "lousy" by the lawmaker who commissioned it.

U.S.  Rep.  Solomon Ortiz said the 45-page report released late Tuesday by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture was "vague, inconclusive and of little
value to Valley farmers."

The report's publication coincided with news that Mexican President Vicente
Fox had arranged to discuss his country's mounting water debt with the United
States at a meeting with Cabinet colleagues in Mexico City on Thursday - the
day before a U.S. congressional field hearing in Brownsville on the issue.

"I am a cool guy and I seldom get mad, but this is a lousy report and I am
ashamed of my government for putting it out," fumed Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi. 
"The Department of Agriculture has spent four or five months on this piece of
work and they end up saying nothing."

Calls to the authors of the study at the Office of the Chief Economist at the
Department of Agriculture were not returned late Tuesday.

The report, titled Assessment of Drought and Water Availability for Crop
Production in the Rio Grande Basin, states that there is insufficient data to
quantify losses suffered by Valley farmers.

"First, the water deficit in Mexican deliveries could not be related to the
annual surface water withdrawals by agricultural data due to lack of data,"
the report states.  "Second, data on acreage planted to all crops, irrigated
and dryland, is incomplete.  Third, there are numerous confounding factors
that have affected planted area in the region during the period of the
deficit deliveries."

The report acknowledges that "an assessment of the available data suggests
that insufficient water likely played an important role in cropping choices
of Rio Grande Basin producers."

Ortiz hoped to make the report the centerpiece of Friday's congressional
field hearing being held at the University of Texas at Brownsville.  He said
Valley farmers attending the hearing would likely feel betrayed by its
findings.

"Texas A&M University did a better job when they reported that the net
economic impact in farm losses in the Valley was $1 billion over the past 10
years.  I think A&M should be running the Department of Agriculture," Ortiz
said.

A State Department official, who did not wish to be identified, confirmed
Fox's planned meeting with Cabinet colleagues in Mexico City on Thursday.  He
said the meeting probably had been arranged to allow Mexico to update its
message and respond to claims that it is ignoring treaty obligations.

Ortiz said he had been given the same information.

"I do not know about any such internal meeting, but I will check it out,"
said Miguel Monterrubio, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington. 
"I have heard that Mexico and U.S.  officials will meet to discuss the water
issue next week, but I cannot confirm this."

Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico is required to deliver 350,000 acre-feet of water
into the Rio Grande from the Rio Conchos and other northern Mexico
tributaries each year.  An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons, the amount necessary
to cover one acre of land, one-foot deep with water.

According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, Mexico is
around 1.5 million acre-feet of water in debt.  Additionally, Mexico has
released only two-thirds of the 600,000 acre-feet of water it promised under
Minute Order 307 signed by Presidents Bush and Fox in March 2001.

Monterrubio said his country is in compliance with the treaty and that it has
the next five years to repay its water debt.  The treaty operates on
five-year cycles.

Friday's congressional field hearing organized by Ortiz and the House
Subcommittee on Water and Power is titled Lower Rio Grande Water Security,
Opportunities and Challenges.

Among the speakers will be Mark Limbaugh, director for the U.S.  Bureau of
Reclamation, and Jim Derham, a deputy assistant secretary in the State
Department.

U.S.  congressmen planning to attend include Ken Calvert, R-Calif., the
subcommittee's chairman; Grace Napolitano, D-Calif.; and Valley members Ruben
Hinojosa, Ciro Rodriguez and Ortiz.

Meanwhile, in a speech in San Marcos on Tuesday, Texas Agriculture
Commissioner Susan Combs said Valley farmers had a right to know whether they
will be getting water owed by Mexico.  She said a May 15 deadline imposed by
the Farm Services Agency to report on acres planted was looming.

"Time is of the essence, and if they're not going to get the water then they
have to get something in lieu of the water," Combs said.  "If we're not able
to get water, if the federal system cannot get it, don't make these guys go
broke."

Last week, Combs, a delegation of Valley farmers and representatives from
U.S.  Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office met with Assistant Security of State
Otto Reich to discuss the water debt issue.  Combs said then that she
expected some statement from Mexico within a week.

http://www.valleystar.com/files/n205011.htm
=============Third Article========

Onion harvest brings tears to growers

By TONY VINDELL
Valley Morning Star

LA FERIA - Onions grown in the Rio Grande Valley have been in good supply,
but marketing the pungent produce has brought tears to farmers' eyes.

They aren't tears of joy because some growers reportedly are selling a
50-pound bag for less than $3.  The going wholesale rate is $3.50.

The price plunge this year is being attributed to imports from Mexico, which
have been flooding the market, and an influx of onions grown in the Northwest
region of the United States.

Mexican-produced onions generally arrive in the Valley before Valley onions
are harvested and Mexican imports taper off as the season continues.

The usual pattern did not occur this year as onions from south of the border
kept arriving as Valley producers and shippers kept harvesting and packaging
onions.

Don Phillipp, a grower from La Feria, said the season got off to a good
start, but it declined as the market for onions did not improve.

Some growers said they thought Mexican-produced onions would taper off as the
Valley season picked up, but that did not materialize.

John McClung, a spokesman with the South Texas Onion Committee in Mission,
said Valley onion producers are having difficulty selling produce for a fair
price.

Some might plow under onions if the market does not improve.

"Most onions will sell," he said, "but selling them at a low price is not
good for anyone."

He said the going rate for a 50-pound bag is $3.50, compared to a good year
when a bag sold for up to $10.

Selling a 50-pound bag of onions for $6 or more is generally considered as a
good price.

South Texas onion growers, which include the Winter Garden area of Laredo and
Uvalde, planted about 16,000 acres with yellow, white and purple onions.

McClung said the quality of this year's crop is good and wishes he could said
the same about today's prices.  "The Valley onion season runs through June 4,
but it should start winding down in about two more weeks," he said, due to
the large amount of imports.

Bob McIntosh, with McManus Wyatt Produce Co.  in Weslaco, also said that
prices have low.

"The market has been trying to pick up a little bit but not much," he said.

"There have been a lot of onions from Mexico and from Georgia and California
this year."

According to the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service in Austin, Valley
growers planted 14,500 acres of spring onions this year, down 1 percent from
a year ago.

U.S.  total onion acreage was forecast at 37,700 acres, down 2 percent from
2001 and 9 percent below 2000.
 
2000, Valley Morning Star, a Freedom Communications, Inc.  Company.  All
rights reserved.

http://www.valleystar.com/files/b205023.htm

CONTACTS FOR MORE INFORMATION:

U.S.  Rep.  Solomon Ortiz
Washington, D.C., office
(202) 225-7742

Susan Combs
Texas Agriculture Commissioner
(512) 463-7476

Gordon Hill, general manager
Bayview Irrigation District #11
956) 233-5109

Jo Jo White, general manager
Mercedes Irrigation District
(956) 565-2411

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site