President Trump visits Bakersfield

Adriana Hernandez, Reporter

President Donald Trump arrived in Bakersfield in a highly anticipated and controversial visit on Feb. 19.  

The event hosted over 1,000 invite-only guests to hear the President address the water issues that have generated a debate between environmentalists and local agricultural farmers and watch him ultimately sign new legislation in favor of the farmers.  

The signing of this memorandum, made possible due to the efforts of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Republican Rep. Devin Nunes among others was a promise that Trump made during his 2016 presidential campaign. Its realization guarantees to direct more water to farmers, who have struggled with the legislation that restricts water usage.  

These issues were heavily discussed in President Trump’s speech. He focused on the negative and unfair impact that laws had on farmers. Farmers suffered tremendously due to the water restrictions, especially during drought years.    

“The resulting miscalculations and misallocation of water helped turn natural droughts into man-made catastrophes. It’s really a catastrophe,” President Trump said 

Local farmers were given the opportunity to discuss the impact past legislation has had on them.  

“As an almond farmer, we can’t just fallow acres in years with less water. Orchards require consistent irrigation and without a reliable water supply, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland can be taken out of production of California’s Central Valley. Families like mine could be forced to abandon orchards or sell a family farm,” Jenny Holtermann, a local almond farmer, said. 

Over the past few years, farmers in the Central Valley have found themselves paying full price for the allocation of water and receiving only a percentage of what they paid for. This has affected their financials as well as overall agricultural production.  

“We pay for water we don’t get, still we see more water taken out of the system, we see more ground being idled. I can tell you what the end looks like… We have considered selling our farm,” Larry Starrh, another local farmer said. 

The restrictions against water distribution for agricultural use came into existence because of environmental concerns such as the effect on wildlife and land subsidence. 

Amy Pachla
Andrew Gonzales, 70, a boxing coach and lifelong Bakersfield resident, participates in a protest before the arrival of President Trump. Gonzales says he protests because he is concerned by the divisions he’s seen growing in society and wants Americans to be better friends to one another.

Low water levels, due to a large amount of water displacement for agricultural usage, have proven fatal to various wildlife, most notably, steelhead fish and salmon. These fish saw a large drop in population over the past few years because of the impact of agriculture on their habitats, according to reporting from Berkeley News. 

Land subsidence, the gradual sinking of land due to groundwater being pumped out faster than it can be recharged, has also proven to be a significant problem in the Central Valley. This occurrence has a long-lasting effect on aquatic ecosystems as it reduces the number of surface water flows and in the long run deteriorates the quality of the water, according to the U.S. Department of Interior website. 

After signing, Trump promptly headed to Phoenix, Arizona to speak at a rally for his presidential campaign. He is expected to head to Las Vegas right after for another speaking engagement on Feb. 20.