Farmers hit by droughts, outdated environmental policies: 'Do we not matter?'

Oregon farmer expresses frustration with DC regulations as drought devastates West

Farmer Jason Flowers speaks out on how water management regulations are impacting his family’s land on ‘America’s Newsroom.’

As droughts continue to plague farmers throughout the Western United States, complaints of outdated environmental laws pile up.

“There’s definitely water that’s available,” Jason Flowers of Klamath County, Ore., told Fox News. The local farm bureau president critiqued the decades-old Endangered Species Act for giving preference to small populations of wildlife above the country’s own residents.

“Do we not matter?” Flowers countered. “We [humans] are a species.”

Jason Flowers said environmental regulations have impacted his family farm.
(Jason Flowers)

Flowers argued that single-species management is environmental malpractice; it neglects taking the entire ecosystem into account, which includes not only wildlife but human life. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is used to protect three local families of fish: the Lost River Sucker, the Shortnosed Sucker and the Coho Salmon. Despite efforts for preservation, Flowers observes the at-risk fish haven’t grown to a sustainable population in more than 20 years.

“Their numbers have actually went down and they won’t change the way they manage it,” Flowers told “America’s Newsroom.” He characterized keeping the current laws static as “the definition of insanity.”

Oregon farmers have seen their water allotments cut significantly from the persisting droughts and their deprioritized place in the federal government’s environmental watering chain. Flowers’ acreage has been sliced by over half as a result, making countless fields barren and unable to yield a harvest. 

“I’m fourth generation on our property here…[and it] has been in our family for over 100 years and, you know, we’re raising the fifth generation,” Flowers spoke of his children. “[My son] wants to be a farmer when he grows up, and the uncertainty of the water situation here, it really, really makes it hard to pass it on to the next generation.”

And when it’s their turn, “they start questioning whether, you know, it’s a secure enough future for them,” he added.

When farmers are faced with limited water rights, they are forced to choose not only at which locations to plant but also the type of crop to produce, putting their land, livelihoods, and longevity into their own type of endangerment.

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