Nature, Labor and Community in California’s Imperial Valley Alan Rudy iss 310: People and Environment
Nature, Labor and Community in California’s Imperial Valley
ISS 310: People and Environment
Imperial Valley and Salton Sea
I'm interested in the connections between environmental crises, labor struggles and rural development.
But, my research started with the 1991 Silver Leaf whitefly superpest outbreak.
What do I do?
Start with evolution of the whitefly and seek connections to labor processes and agricultural development patterns.
Whitefly comes from intensive cultivation, and serial ripening with great crop diversity.
The Imperial Valley produces > 100 crops with a 365-day a year growing season.
Crops are planted so that one field is harvested one week, another the next, and another the next – there are almost always several ripe, succulent, or young crops for pests to attack.
As such, extremely high pesticide usage has been the rule ever since the 1950s.
Whitefly superpest unlike other pests (more crop hosts, 5X repro rate).
Esp. bad for highly capitalized, very disciplined and intensive agricultural systems with
Massive landholdings, contract inputs-management-labor, Hoover Dam/All-American canal/intensive drainage system.
Neither the 160-Acre nor the Residency Limitation associated with the Irrigation Act of 1901 has been enforced in the Valley since the completion of the Hoover Dam, and All-American Canal.
Massive units of production.
Not a single farmstead – everyone lives in cities, across the border or on the coast.
Contracts – No Owner Operators
Irrigation – 1901
Flood/New-Alamo “Rivers”/Salton Sea – 1904-1907
Dam/Canal – 1929-1939
Drainage – 1940s
1930s – against legal advice, unenforced
1970s – threatened, Supreme Court decision, Congress rewrites Reclamation Law
Indigenous canal digging, land leveling
Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hindu
Mexican – exception to 20s immigration laws
Bracero Program – 1941-1965
UFW – 1968-1982
IID – Swing + Johnson = Hoover Dam
Maquiladoras, NAFTA, Prisons “rejuvenate” IV cities
“Right to Farm” ordinance
Supersaline Salton Sea
5-10,000 migrating eared grebes die annually
Supersaline Irrigation Water – Mexico?
Selenium saturated sediments
Industrial/Sewage from Mexicali
Very low air quality
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