The other subsidies besides US taxpayers' cash moolah are in the form of water diverted from the Rio Colorado and other rios throughout the west. At the expense of migratory anadromous fish, delta and other riparian ecosystems (including desert springs and aquifers), the rio agua ends up in industrial agriculture fields like the hot and dry Imperial Valley to grow temperate (water dependant) crops like iceberg lettuce. The monocultura fields also require heavy applications of pesticdes and fertilizers, all petrochemical based. That is another reason the US military is still occupying oil rich Iraq, we are hooked on petroleum to feed our industrial agriculture..
Here's a list of the top 15 farms in the Westlands Water District; http://www.ewg.org/reports/westlands/part2.php
Then there's the issue of labor. Undocumented immigrants usually end up in the largest industrial agriculture fields breathing toxins of pesticides and suffering heat stroke. For this they don't even get paid above minimum wage (though CEOs get millions of taxpayer dollars?), if they become ill from the bioaccumulation of pesticide toxins they are secretly deported back to Mexico..
The UFW needs to be less about compromise with industrial agriculture and more about zero tolerance of pesticide exposure. Since the CA gubenator Arnold the Actor has chosen to support measure 75 to further weaken the unions, this may not happen. Ceaser Chavez would be rolling in his grave if he knew how the UFW has sold out to industrial agriculture in the name of compromise. Consider this a challenge to the UFW to prove me wrong..
All the Cucapah of the Rio Colorado delta ask for is 1 percent more fresh river water to recover from the decades of drought and increased salinity from lack of fresh water. Even this is too much for the Imperial Valley iceberg lettuce growers who insist on claiming the lion's share of the water so that Taco Bell can put some lettuce leaves on their tacos. Just ask the owner of a seafood restaurant in El Golfo de Santa Clara about the steady decline in sealife over the decades from lack of fresh water. This criminal behavior on the part of these corporations will only continue so long as people allow it..
Until now, the Minutemen are considered by many (including myself) to be racist for scapegoating immigrants and ducking the source problem of "illegal" immigration, economic inequality. If the Minutemen want to show the world what they are really about (another challenge to prove me wrong), organizing a protest of industrial agriculture and their abusive treatment of undocumented immigrant labor would be a great idea to throw off the label of being racist. Maybe some counter-protesters could also show up and the corporate media would be forced to cover this controversial issue that effects everyone..
No agua, no vida: Slow Death of the Colorado Delta http://www.blueearth.org/projects/colorado_river/
"Over the course of millions of years, water and silt from the Colorado River Basin flowing downstream to the Gulf of California created one of the greatest desert deltas the world has ever seen. During the past century, efforts to harness Colorado River water, primarily for agriculture but also municipal uses and hydroelectricity production, have radically reshaped, or more accurately, decimated the delta. Upriver water management policies favoring consumptive use of the resource have greatly reduced the amount of water and silt reaching the delta, causing drastic, damaging changes to the physical characteristics of the landscape. As a result, the plants and animals that adapted over large periods of time to this vibrant, yet temperamental and unforgiving environment have suffered mightily. The Cucupá Indians who survived for some 2,000 years off the rich and diverse biota of the region consequently find themselves no longer able to do so.
PHOTO: Beginning in 1963, the delta received none of the Colorado's annual flood flows for 17 years while Lake Powell filled behind Glen Canyon Dam. CREDIT: USGS
The seeds for change were sown in 1901 when prospectors attempted to irrigate the desert lands of the Imperial Valley in southern California by diverting water through a privately built canal. Shortly thereafter, the swollen river revealed its true force, smashing through the canal and forging its own path before accidentally creating the Salton Sea. Undeterred, the powerful Imperial Irrigation District gained the support of the Bureau of Reclamation in 1921, calling for a more capable water delivery system to aid the flourishing agriculture businesses of the area. The Boulder Canyon Project Act included construction of what was then the world's biggest dam, known today as Hoover Dam, and behind it, Lake Mead, America's largest man-made storage reservoir." http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?contentid=2644
"A rocket-fuel chemical that has polluted drinking water supplies across the Southwest may also be contaminating a large portion of the nation's winter lettuce crop.
Tests commissioned by The Press-Enterprise found the chemical perchlorate in all 18 samples of winter lettuce and one sample of mustard greens. Roughly 90 percent of the nation's winter lettuce is grown in the Imperial and Coachella valleys and irrigated with Colorado River water. The river is contaminated from a Cold War-era manufacturing plant near Las Vegas that stopped making perchlorate in 1998."
Imperial Valley lettuce contaminated with perchlorate (rocket fuel) http://www.ewg.org/news/story.php?id=1675