Comments: California Regulators: Falling Down on the Job of "managing private profit"

And my Facebook friends have posted (as Dave Berry would say, I'm not making this up) "Ban Almonds!"

One hates to see suffering, but the Hayekian in me welcomes this as a graphic illustration of Fatal Conceit -- let the pointy heads price a commodity instead of the market, and expect shortages or gluts.

Everybody's water price is subsidized in California. The created huge water subsidies for agriculture because Adam Smith, then they had to subsdies municipal usage because the discrepancy was alarming.

"Why didn't they just lower the..." Son, you've never faced an Ag lobby.

Searching for the great piece I read on this topic, I encountered this guy who started growing almonds because he saw that subsidized cotton in the valley wasn't a long term plan.

As for the gallon-per-almond metric?

Boy, that sounds wasteful. It's a figure designed to outrage, and it does the trick.

But looking at the societal value of producing food only by gallons of water used is silly, if not absurd. My fellow growers of other crops calculate that it takes about 168 gallons of water to produce a single watermelon. And 50 gallons for a cantaloupe. That head of broccoli that you feel good about serving to your child? Thirty-five gallons. A single ear of corn requires roughly 40 gallons.

If only there were some way to let all the users of a commodity find its most valuable use among competing demands. If only somebody could come up with such a scheme.

Posted by jk at May 9, 2015 3:24 PM

Thus explaining why ag water is measured in acre feet instead of gallons. For example:

1 almond = .000003 acre feet of water
1 watermelon = .0005 acre feet

Everything else listed is between those two figures. Units matter. It's like saying a typical diet soda has just 4 Calories, when in scientific terms (thermal calories) it is actually a whopping 4,000 calories. (And a Carls Jr. 1/2 pound guacamole bacon thickburger is 1.21 million calories.)

Posted by johngalt at May 11, 2015 12:26 PM

Reading the comment-linked article, CA farmers are paying $1000 per acre foot for federally supplied water. Since there are 325,853 gallons in an acre foot that is 0.3 cents per gallon. Talk about "producer subsidy!" The hipsters' have to pay 650 times that for their Ethos Water!

I'm not sure which is "worse" - the government giveaway to "Big H2O" or the rapacious profit-gouging by private corporation Starbucks!

Posted by johngalt at May 11, 2015 12:43 PM
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