Suggesting that farmers would "be prudent" to rely on field crops reveals how little The Bee knows about agricultural economics. Look at the free fall in the San Joaquin Valley's cotton acreage in recent years if you think growing field crops is prudent. Misguided government attempts to help fish have forced farmers to shift to higher valued crops.I am confident that the vast majority of agricultural economists would disagree with that last sentence.
I really don't understand the Pacific Legal Foundation when it comes to California water. They supposedly stand for limited government and private property rights. Yet, here they are supporting the Central Valley Project, one of the great American examples of the problems with big centralized government economic planning. And it is farmers on the other side of the pumps that are filing takings lawsuits against the government water planners without the support of PLF.
If you feel strongly about limited government, property rights and environmental stewardship; I strongly recommend the very thoughtful Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) as an alternative to PLF. I would be very interested in seeing some of my old friends from PERC discuss these issues with PLF.
Update: Here is my alternative wording of the last sentence with which most economists would agree. "The shift to higher value crops has increased the cost to farmers of government attempts to help fish." That is true, but the farmers made a high risk business investment decision in hope of higher profits. PLF's agenda creates a moral hazard risk, something of great concern to conservative economists (see conservative criticism of Wall Street bailout for example).