Berrenda Mesa: Corporate agriculture

Another thing you hear a lot about in the dialog on California water is corporate agriculture, or “agribusiness”.  In some parts of the state, such as the San Joaquin Valley, there are family farms and corporate farms, leased land and tenant farmers, so it’s a little tricky to tell.

However, out in the far-flung, remote western side of the San Joaquin Valley, it’s not so hard to tell.  Here, on along State Route 46, between I-5 and Paso Robles, lies the Berrenda Mesa Water District, home to corporate agriculture.  There are no cities here … those are all trees off in the distance.

Berrenda Mesa May 2014 #13… no homes, no mini-marts or small communities.  Instead, this is home to hundreds of acres of almond and pistachio trees.  This is corporate ag country.

Berrenda Mesa May 2014 #1

Looks like the area is used to graze cattle when there’s grass on the hills.   Berrenda Mesa May 2014 #11Berrenda Mesa Water District receives water from the State Water Project – they have a Table A allocation for about 92,000 acre-feet.  Their five member board of directors has two representatives from Paramount Farming, a representative from Blackwell Land, another from Sandridge Partners, and one from Global Ag.

Berrenda Mesa Canal May 2014 #2Here’s the water district’s crop map.

Berrenda-Mesa-2013-Crop-MapI can’t say if they are pumping groundwater here, although I did not see any groundwater pumps or associated infrastructure.  I could look it up in their Agricultural Water Management Plan, I suppose, but this is my photoblog, not my regular blog, so I don’t feel the need to be so well researched.  I can be lazy and take guesses.  My guess is no.Berrenda Mesa Canal May 2014 #6 There are a lot of trees out here …  it’s very remote and very quiet.   Berrenda Mesa May 2014 #8 Berrenda Mesa May 2014 #6 Berrenda Mesa May 2014 #9

A lot of almonds and pistachios being grown for export … out in the middle of nowhere.

You can find out more about the Berrenda Mesa Water District here:

So long from Berrenda Mesa!