Always a big topic in the Klamath Basin, water is the No. 1 thing on farmers’ and ranchers’ minds this year.

“I think always at the top of the list is water availability,” said Dan Chin, owner of Wong Potatoes. “Every year it seems like we can’t grow anything, we can’t do anything without water availability.”

Just knowing how much water he will have directly affects what Chin can tell his customers. Uncertainty can put a stress on marketing and the general practice of doing business.

“I need some stability to make my plans for my program, not year-by-year, but it needs to be laid out so I know coming into 2013 I’m going to have enough water to grow my potatoes, supply our customers,” Chin said. “Not knowing that number each year really makes it a challenge.”

Glenda Stilwell, president of the Klamath County Cattlemen’s Association, said water is a concern for ranchers, too. The uncertainty extends to the political side of water, where Stilwell is waiting to see what happens with water adjudication and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

“Everything is up in the air,” she said. “We do not know what to expect.”

“Water is certainly at the top of the list,” said Gary Derry, a hay and alfalfa farmer. But Derry said other factors contribute to both his operations and water availability. His overlying concern? Government regulations.

Regulation

“Regulation is a huge issue in water supply,” Derry said, listing the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and biological opinions from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. “All of these regulations that continue to be imposed on the American people are driving the cost of everything we do.”

Chin also listed government regulations as one of his concerns.

“We get into a world now where everything we do, we’re regulated on how we do it, why we do it,” Chin said. “When you’re dealing with more and more regulations, the cost of products goes up.”

Richard DeJong, of the Langell Valley Dairy, said taxes on corporations can be a burden. He worries as Congress closes tax loopholes, it could affect his business.

“They want to come after anybody they think makes a decent living,” DeJong said.