Actor Alan Autry Slams Obama for Choosing Fish Over Farmers, Says Drought Like Terror Attack

On Thursday's Hannity show, Sean Hannity hosted a special edition of his program -- titled "The Valley That Hope Forgot" -- in Huron, California, where drought-stricken farmers are suffering because the federal government continues to withhold water to save endangered fish, leaving tens of thousands of farm workers standing in line for hours at food banks. As the show aired amidst a rally of farm workers, correspondent Ainsley Earhardt informed viewers that conditions have worsened since she last reported from the area in April.

Then, actor Alan Autry, a former Republican mayor of Fresno who is also famous for starring in the television series In the Heat of the Night, slammed President Obama for refusing to intervene. As he recounted post-9/11 fears that al-Qaeda would target the water supply to hurt American agriculture, Autry observed that the conditions created by the federal government by intentionally withholding water are similar to what he would have expected in the aftermath of a terror attack. Autry:

One of the things we were charged with by the federal government was to work together locally to protect the water supply to farming communities so they could continue to provide food for the nation. Now, if you would have told me that those – that water would have stopped, I would have believed maybe al-Qaeda struck, not the federal government.

After starting the show by talking with comedian Paul Rodriguez, who heads the California Latino Water Coalition, Hannity introduced a segment with FNC correspondent Earhardt, who updated viewers on the situation. Earhardt: "This is the second time I’ve been out here. We came out here in April, and definitely I have seen major differences. It’s just gotten worse."

After recounting the importance of farming in the San Joaquin Valley in supplying America with food, she highlighted one woman whose family now depends on food lines because her husband, a farm worker, is suffering financially because of the drought. Earhardt:

Unemployment’s already bad. Sean, I told you we were at the food bank earlier. The community food bank, this is what you’re seeing now, where they are feeding 30,000 people every month. ... We talked to one lady. She, her story broke my heart. She was in line at 3:00 a.m. She was number 51 in line. The food bank opened this morning at 9:00. She was there for six and a half hours.

The FNC correspondent then recounted the plight of one farm that has laid off some of its employees:

It's a fourth generation farm, and the water shortage is costing them. The farmer has to fire – has had to fire some of his staff, some staff members who worked for his grandfather; 20 percent of the farm is fallowed. They had to bed out the entire tomato field, and it is empty, and it is idle land now. The mechanic who works on this farm says that he’s worried about his job. He has kids, and he has lots of sleepless nights.

After Earhardt's report, Autry joined the group to advocate for farmers. At one point, the former mayor and television star admittedly went "over the top" as he called the withholding of water "an act of domestic terror," before he went on to make the thought-provoking point that cutting off the water supply to farmers was the kind of action American authorities were afraid al-Qaeda would attempt in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Autry: "I made a statement not too long ago, and I stand by it, and I’m going to stand by it today, and you saw Evangelina and Joe, turning this water off is not just bad politics, it's an act of domestic terror."

After applause from the rally participants, he continued:

Now, Sean, the last thing I want to do is come here and go over the top. Let me tell you why it is. As mayor for eight years, I worked with Homeland Security after 9/11. One of the things we were charged with by the federal government was to work together locally to protect the water supply to farming communities so they could continue to provide food for the nation. Now, if you would have told me that those – that water would have stopped, I would have believed maybe al-Qaeda struck, not the federal government.

Below is a transcript of Ainsley Earhardt's report, followed by Hannity's interview with Alan Autry from the Thursday, September 17, Hannity show on FNC:

SEAN HANNITY: Now the crisis that has hit the San Joaquin Valley isn’t just effecting farmers, it's impacting people from all across the United States. Our own Ainsley Earhardt, she joins us here with a special report tonight. Ainsley?

AINSLEY EARHARDT: Hey, Sean, yeah, this is the second time I’ve been out here. We came out here in April, and definitely I have seen major differences. It’s just gotten worse. We were at the food bank today. I’m going to show you some of that video. But Sean’s right. It's not just effecting these farmers. I'm from the East Coast. It's effecting all of you guys out there as well. Let me tell you how. Take the tomato, for example. We were at a tomato farm. We were at Wolf Farming, which provides tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup to your family – 40 percent of the world's processing tomatoes come out of Fresno, California, where we are right now. When this region is effected, so are you. It truly takes a village to get all of this tomatoes, all these tomatoes from the vine to your kitchen table. If the tomato farmer is out of work, the truck driver who delivers the tomato to the pizza sauce plant or to the ketchup company is out of work as well. That effects the next guy who cans, jars or boxes the sauce. Then the business that distributes it and then you who wants to make pizza or spaghetti sauce for your family. If we have to start importing tomatoes from other countries like China, or South America, of course prices are going to go up for you, and more jobs out here will be lost.

Unemployment’s already bad. Sean, I told you we were at the food bank earlier. The community food bank, this is what you’re seeing now, where they are feeding 30,000 people every month. Through an executive order, the Governor out here allocated state money to start this food bank. Each eligible family gets to go through the line every two weeks. They get 40 pounds of food per person. So a family of eight gets 320 pounds of food every two weeks. It’s loaded onto these movable pallets, then volunteers put all the food into the recipients' cars. We talked to one lady. She, her story broke my heart. She was in line at 3:00 a.m. She was number 51 in line. The food bank opened this morning at 9:00. She was there for six and a half hours. Listen to her story.

EVANGELINA ZARAGOZA, FOOD BANK RECIPIENT: We have the need right now. There’s no work. My husband’s down to three days a week that he works. His pay went to half of what he earned, so we really need this food.

EARHARDT: When you wake up every day, what goes through your mind?

ZARAGOZA: Well, another day we made it, and I thank God every day that this food is here for us because, you know, I don't have extra money to go to the grocery store and put in all the food, you know. Sometimes I buy a piece of meat to add to the vegetables and stuff, but mostly, this is what they give us.

EARHARDT: Do you ever shed tears over this?

ZARAGOZA: Every day, every day.

EARHARDT: Why the tears?

ZARAGOZA: There’s a lot of people need this help, and I wish there was more for them.

EARHARDT: Can you believe this is America? I'm sure her story touched you like it did me. We also visited this farm. This is Anderson Farms where many of your fruits and veggies are grown here in America. It's a fourth generation farm, and the water shortage is costing them. The farmer has to fire – has had to fire some of his staff, some staff members who worked for his grandfather; 20 percent of the farm is fallowed. They had to bed out the entire tomato field, and it is empty, and it is idle land now. The mechanic who works on this farm says that he’s worried about his job. He has kids, and he has lots of sleepless nights.

EARHARDT: How long have you been working on this farm?

JOE SOTO, FARM MECHANIC: Over 33 years.

EARHARDT: 33 Years?

SOTO: Yes.

EARHARDT: What are your fears?

SOTO: Well, losing my job. I lost a couple of friends of mine that worked here for 20 years or more.

EARHARDT: Really?

SOTO: So.

EARHARDT: Where’d they go?

SOTO: Up north, some did, looking for more jobs, but it's tough all over.

EARHARDT: It's tough?

SOTO: Yes.

EARHARDT: You have a family to feed?

SOTO: Yes, I do.

EARHARDT: How many kids do you have?

SOTO: I’ve got four kids.

EARHARDT: Four kids. So if you lose your job, it's devastating?

SOTO: It's going to be tough.

EARHARDT: We’ve heard people are, they’re saying that the government is choosing this fish over families.

SOTO: They are. I don't know, it's not right, so. That's not right.

EARHARDT: You know, these people grew up just like you and I did. They had hopes and dreams. They wanted to put food on the table for their family, be successful. These are Americans. These are individuals, and they are hurting out here. They don't want to wait in line at a food bank for six and a half hours. They don't want to cry themselves to sleep. This is a serious issue, and it's effecting so many people, and I’ve been out here several times for this story. And every single time it touches me and breaks my heart. And, you know, I just want the best for these folks out here. This is considered the bread basket of America. And let me tell you why. Here’s a basket that some of the nice farmers put together for us. The watermelons, the lettuce, all the almonds in your house in America or 99 percent of them grown right here in this farmland.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE FROM RALLY PARTICIPANTS]

Tomatoes grown here, cotton grown here. So they really need your help. Now, Alan Autry, who is an actor, I know you recognize him, also former mayor of Fresno. He’s here to tell us how this is effecting him. And I understand you actually worked these farm lands at one point.

ALAN AUTRY: Yeah, Ainsley, I did, this very field that we’re in right now-

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

AUTRY: -used to be tomatoes, and my dad and my mother both and I used to work these fields, and, you know, Sean, I want to say God bless you for covering this.

HANNITY: Well, it's great to be here.

AUTRY: I really mean that.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

HANNITY: Thank you. I never saw an issue where it was so simple: Just turn the water on.

AUTRY: Yeah, Sean. But that message has, there’s a very powerful forces at work here. And there’s an old saying, it's not paranoia if they’re really after you. I made a statement not too long ago, and I stand by it, and I’m going to stand by it today, and you saw Evangelina and Joe, turning this water off is not just bad politics, it's an act of domestic terror.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

Now, Sean, the last thing I want to do is come here and go over the top. Let me tell you why it is. As mayor for eight years, I worked with Homeland Security after 9/11. One of the things we were charged with by the federal government was to work together locally to protect the water supply to farming communities so they could continue to provide food for the nation. Now, if you would have told me that those – that water would have stopped, I would have believed maybe al-Qaeda struck, not the federal government.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. This really – and we’re going to talk to the Governor. He said in many interviews if he had the power he’d turn the water back on tomorrow. What do you say –  what do you say to the President?

AUTRY: I tell you, this may be unpopular, I think the Governor has led the way on this water issue. There is a limit to what he can do. To President Obama, with all due respect to my buddy Paul Rodriguez. I’m not going to cut him slack because he knows full well what’s happening here as does Nancy Pelosi and George Miller. They could care less about the water coming to this valley. Sean, they’d rather see it become a solar farm than a food farm.