Staff Editorial

Staff Editorial: Hay! Where is All the Water Going?

California currently sits in the middle of its worst drought ever on record, which has taken a large toll on many of the state’s farmers as it seemingly refuses to rain day after day. It may surprise you to learn then, that during this statewide crisis, billions of gallons of water are being used to grow hay that is destined for China.

Robert Glennon, a Law professor at Arizona College of Law, told BBC News that “a hundred billion gallons of water per year is being exported in the form of alfalfa from California…It’s a huge amount. It’s enough for a year’s supply for a million families – it’s a lot of water, particularly when you’re looking at the dreadful drought throughout the south-west.”

In a time when many citizens are being asked to cut back on their water usage as reserves quickly dwindle, it may seem absurd that we would use any water to produce crops for China — especially hay, a crop that our own farmers have struggled to grow and have had to purchase from other sources.

Ronnie Langrueber, a California alfalfa farmer, told the BBC that he thinks it is all part of the global economy, questioning, “Is it more efficient to use water for a golf course for the movie stars or is it more efficient for farmers to use it to grow a crop and export it and create this mass economic engine that drives the country?”
What Langrueber fails to understand is that the majority of people affected by the drought are not movie stars wanting to play golf, but everyday citizens and farmers just like him who do not want to see their livelihoods affected because all of their crops are dying due to the inaccessibility of water.

Just last month, farmers received more bad news from the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP) — both water projects that pull from sources in California — stating that they will no longer be allocated any water thanks to the continuing drought. Sprinklers and irrigation on many farms in the south of the Imperial Valley continue to shower water on their emerald green land as they draw their water from the Colorado River. With water property rights, there is no legal and feasible way to have farmers in the Imperial Valley share their water source with farmers in the Central Valley. Despite, the billions California spent in the 20th century on water canals for this precise purpose, there is no conveyance that would make possible the transfer of water from south to north between the two valleys. That is, if the property rights issue was resolved.

Sadly, all this does not matter. The fact of the matter is that it is more cost effective to send the hay to China than anywhere in California. There are currently many more things being shipped from China to the United States than vice versa, so returning ships have lots of space that can be cheaply filled up with hay.

What is more startling, is the fact that domestic news sources are failing to report on this topic. Aside from the BBC, headquartered in the U.K., the New York based, The Nation, is the only reputable media outlet that has published an online article highlighting this issue. Yet, both the BBC and The Nation have a limited readership stateside. U.S. residents, mainly those in California affected by the drought, are widely being left in the dark.

In the end, it is really up to the companies who are growing the crops to decide on what they want to use them for. Shipping hay to China will be cheaper for exporters and produce higher profits for farmers for the foreseeable future, but hopefully some companies will choose California’s welfare over trade interests — after all, this is the state in which they built their business.


Men’s Basketball: Dons End 17-Game Losing Streak to St. Mary’s

The Dons won both of their two games last week, beating the Pacific Tigers in a close matchup on Saturday after defeating St. Mary’s for the first time since 2006 just two days before. The wins improve the Dons’ season record to 18-10 and their conference record to 11-5, currently putting them at third in the Western Coast Conference.
Despite a late drive by Pacific that almost won them the game, USF managed to hang on for the win against the Tigers in a 64-59 victory, aided in part by 15-point games from both senior forward Cole Dickerson and sophomore guard Avry Holmes. Dickerson also tacked on 13 rebounds for the Dons in his final home game for USF before he graduates.

“I’m sure emotions played a big part with Cole [Dickerson] today,” head coach Rex Walters told “He doesn’t show much on the outside, but he wanted this one bad for obvious reasons.”
The Dons jumped out to an early lead against the Tigers and maintained it throughout the course of the first half. USF headed into halftime up 33-21, but the Tigers rallied fiercely in the second half and managed to take the lead a couple of times, but only by two points at most. A layup by Dickerson broke a 57-57 tie, and free throws from both Holmes and redshirt sophomore forward Mark Tollefson helped the Dons cement their lead and secure the victory.
USF’s win on Saturday was their second of the week, and it came after a commanding performance against St. Mary’s on Thursday that concluded with the Dons shutting down the Gaels 73-62. USF had lost 17 straight games to the Gaels over the last nine years.

Before Saturday, the Dons’ last victory against the Gaels was on Jan. 10, 2006.

The first half was very similar to that of the Pacific game, as the Dons performed well and maintained a double-digit lead going into halftime. Their performance was highlighted by massive dunks from both Tollefson and junior forward Kruize Pinkins. Tollefson, Pinkins, and junior guard Matt Glover led the Dons in scoring with 16 points each.

Although there were times in the second half when it seemed like the Gaels might rally for a comeback, USF always managed to stay on top and respond to St. Mary’s attempts at a run. The Gaels were able to cut the lead to 61-52 with 3:40 to play, but they would get no closer than that. A fastbreak dunk by Tollefson with 1:14 to go put USF up by a comfortable 12 points, and effectively sealed the win for the Dons. As a team, the Dons shot 50 percent both from the field and from beyond the arc, while also giving up only four turnovers.

The games against Pacific and St. Mary’s were the last Dons home contests of the year. USF has two games left in the regular season, with the first coming on Feb. 27 at 7:00 p.m. in Malibu, Calif. versus Pepperdine, and the second on Mar. 1 at 7:00 p.m. in Los Angeles, Calif. against LMU.


The Story of the Elements Entertains All

Audience Members Learn to Shake their Hips at the Annual Ho’ike

Friends and family piled into McLaren this past weekend to enjoy the 5th Annual Ho’ike, in which USF students in the Hawaiian Ensemble performed various dances celebrating the stories of the elements.

Before the performance, guests were able to dine in the conference center where delicious barbecue was served.  Traditional Hawaiian music played over the sound of eating and mingling, getting everyone in the mood for the upcoming dancing.
After an hour of eating, the show was ready to begin.  Melissa Tecson, serving as the master of ceremonies for the night, livened the audience as she introduced the first dance of the elements.  The lovely ladies of the Hawaiian Ensemble took to the stage dressed in bright tropical dresses, designed and stitched by the members themselves.

Maintaining true Hawaiian form, the dances did not merely depict earth, wind, and fire, but rather how “the wind kisses the water,” as Melissa explained.  And although the majority of the ensemble members were women, the men of the dance group eventually took the stage, causing a thunder of whistles and cheers from their friends, and—I assume—every middle aged woman present, as they were all shirtless and covered in tribal art.

Before wrapping up, the show took pause for a lighthearted moment, as members went into the audience to select their friends and relatives to join them on stage for a dance tutorial, in which they were forced to awkwardly swerve and shake their hips.  The show finally ended with all the members in a compilation dance of the elements, followed by resounding applause.


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