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The question, what size farm will provide a good living for a family, is only one aspect of the subject. On one hand, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce has said that a family can be supported in the an Joaquin Valley if it raises oranges on 20 to 30 acres, apricots on 35 acres, peaches on 30 to 40 acres, grapes and raisins on 40 to 50 acres, or figs on 60 to 80 acres. On 20 to 50 acres or so in fruits, a family can make a good living there. What would the figure be for the lower Rio Grande Valley? Similar, probably. Yet under the watersharing law, which the Texas water plan promoters want changed, a man and wife are allowed to get federally-subsidized water on 320 acres. They can farm as much more land as they want to if they provide their own water. Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona has said he is in complete agreement with the Fresno figures. But it depends on what you are trying to define. If you start talking about something like the “optimum net yield per acre,” you can come up with baskets full of studies showing that larger farms are better. For instance, Gov. Ronald Reagan’s task force, arguing for the Murphy approach to the subject, cites studies that tend to show that 500 or 600 acres are required for maximum efficiency. We are now paying millions to farmers to prevent them from producing all they can, flooding the market, and depressing prices. There is also, therefore, another question here. Do we want the most efficient agriculture, or do we want to encourage the kind of wholesome life on the land symbolized by the term, “the family farm?” If the family farm is somewhat less efficient by various economic tests, but provides a satisfactory income and a good life, is it not preferable to a landscape swept clean of homes, people, and even small towns? In 1959 the U.S. Senate refused to exempt the San Luis project from the 160-acre limitation. This project is now beginning to water the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Mounting his successful fight that year against the attempt of big landowners to kill the water-sharing law in this area, Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois said: “We believe in the family-sized farm, the American system. We do not want the Spanish system. We do not want the hacienda system, or the system of Mexico, , which California had when it joined the union. We do not want a system with a big manor house on the hill, and farm laborers living in hovels. We want a system in which the owner is the cultivator. That is the basis of American agrarian democracy.” This, then, is the context in which Texas voters are asked to commit themselves for a $7 billion obligation when interest rates are so high. Texas needs an integrated water system, but it should be, and probably in the course of events will be, part of a national water system, funded by the federal government and using not only waters from the Mississippi, but all the great rivers of the country, even the Yukon. It does not make good sense to give this present group of power-holders in Texas a blank check to go to work bargaining Congress out of one of the fundamental guarantees of the democratic way of life, the water-sharing law. R.D. Some Money Questions Austin With practically no debate, the Texas Legislature overwhelmingly approved the biggest bond issue in the history of the World. Texas voters will have their say on the $3.5 billion in general obligation bonds for water development August 5. Before the bonds can actually be sold, the Water Development Board will have to get the approval of two-thirds of both the House and Senate. Proponents of the water plan insist that the Legislature will be an effective overseer of the WDB’s use of the money. If the scheme for importing water from the Mississippi is proved to be unfeasible, the Legislature will stop it, they say. Others disagree. Sen. Charles Herring of Austin, one senator who voted against the bond issue, has said “I doubt that any Legislature in Texas would vote against issuing these bonds if the people of Texas vote for them by a substantial majority. The one thing I have learned is that when bonds are authorized, they will be sold. But if we aren’t able to go ahead with the water system, who knows what they will be sold for?” 1 ALTHOUGH INTEREST rates on the water bonds will double or more than double the cost of the funds, the Legislature never discussed alternative methods of financing water development. Howard Boswell, executive director of the WDB, affirmed at a recent press conference that the $3.5 billion in bonds will cost taxpayers or water users another $3.5 billion to $4 billion in interest, if the bonds are sold at 12 The Texas Observer about 6%. 2 Yet, while other state bonds have an interest ceiling of 6%%, the water bonds would have no ceiling at all. The cost of paying off the bonds might go much higher. Such a monumental interest will greatly enhance the financial wellbeing of a few bankers and bond brokers, but it will not help the pocketbooks of the people of Texas. The financial burden on the state’s water users would be half or less than half of what it will be under bond financing if the Legislature had decided to pay for the water project directly through taxation, but such a pay-as-you-go proposition was never even considered. The proponents of the water plan claim that the bonds will be repaid by those who directly benefit from the importation of water, those who use the water. But someone will have to pay for servicing the bonds while the channels and dams and reservoirs are being built. That someone will be the collective taxpayers of the State of Texas. The conservative Texas Research League estimates that $630 million in taxes will be needed to pay interest and principal from 1978 to 1991 when water user payments would begin coming in. “On the basis of preliminary evaluation, the financial resources of the areas to be served by the Texas Water System appear to be adequate to repay the costs under current federal and state repayment policies, either through water charges, or through a combination of water charges and general taxation . . .,” the plan says. Yet probably the most frequently heard argument against the plan is that the state’s farmers will never be able to pay their share for irrigating their land. The plan, as it is now written, calls for state financing of the municipal and industrial water needs and federal financing of agricultural needs. The Texas Water Report recently said that Rep. Bill Clayton of Springlake \(in the cotton country north of tion projects in the plan are to be financed, if at all [emphasis theirs] , by reclamation loans from Congress. Clayton said the conversations that farmers would fall $10 billion shy of paying out the costs makes no sense, because there will be no irrigation projects unless farmers or other area people contract with the Bureau of Reclamation to pay out the cost of irrigation facilities.” 3 But the Committee of 500 of which Clayton is a leader is putting great emotional appeal on the fact that High Plains and Rio Grande Valley farmers will be out of water this century unless something is done soon. Since the water bond issue does not authorize any particular plan, there is no guarantee that state money will not be used for irrigation. Even if it is not specifically used to build irrigation canals, the bulk of the funds will have gone to build giant canals and reservoirs which will transport and hold water for all three purposes, industrial, municipal, and agricultural. DR. WALLACE LOVEJOY of Southern Methodist University, an economist on the Committee of 1,000 which opposes the plan, argues that the scheme is economically unfeasible, basically because of agricultural needs. “It goes without saying that various parts of Texas will require more and cleaner water supplies