Coalition Warns Domestic Food Supply In Peril with State Cutting Water

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California Farm Water Coalition Warns Domestic Food Supply In Peril with State Cutting Water

California farms produce over half of the country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables

By Katy Grimes, May 25, 2022 11:08 am

The California Farm Water Coalition issued a dire statement Tuesday warning that California’s agriculture industry and food supply is in peril because of restricted agriculture water supplies. “Today’s State Water Board emergency water conservation regulation continues to demonstrate how serious this year’s drought is. Water conservation measures are reaching farther and farther into our communities and now go beyond the water supply cuts felt by California farms and rural communities earlier this year.”

The California Farm Water Coalition represents agriculture water suppliers, water districts, agribusiness, farmers, as well as the supporting agribusinesses such as farm equipment suppliers, tractor manufacturers, and the like.

It was only last summer that the State Water Resources Control Board eliminated water supplies for thousands of family farms throughout the Central Valley, a mere two years after the state’s reservoirs were full from a particularly wet year. “The California State Water Resources Control Board announced that thousands of farmers in the Central Valley up to the Oregon Border will have their water curtailed until winter, the Globe reported.

When the State Water Board orders water cut off to farmers, the food supply is also cut.

California’s drought conditions are actually historically normal however, each of California’s droughts are billed by government and media as the driest period in the state’s recorded rainfall history. Scientists who study the Western United States’ long-term climate patterns say California has been dry for significantly longer periods — more than 200 years.

The Globe spoke Wednesday with Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition on the State Water Board Emergency Water Conservation Regulation. Wade said the most important measure they can take right to highlight the seriousness of California’s water shortage is to connect consumers through the food they eat.

Wade said that the surface supply of water is short, so farmers will have to rely on groundwater. But the state is encroaching on groundwater availability through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed in 2014. And water district irrigation managers are putting caps on water by limiting pumping.

“The taps that deliver surface water to the farms that grow the local food we buy at grocery stores were effectively turned off in March and April. Almost half of the irrigated farmland in California has had its surface water supply reduced by 50% or more,” the CFWC said.

The Globe asked Wade if water authorities recognize that it is food production being harmed. “We are starting to see acknowledgment of California’s importance in the nation’s food supply,” Wade said. He noted that agriculture is shrinking in the state.

“We live in an increasingly unstable world, but politicians and regulators are not doing the work needed to guard our safe, affordable, domestic food supply during these uncertain times. Failing to act will not only worsen rising food costs, they may permanently disrupt the food systems that many now take for granted,” the CFWC said.

“We need to invest in surface and groundwater storage,” Wade said.

“California farms produce over half of the country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables. California foods aren’t just in the produce aisle, but also in the ready-made foods and ingredients we eat every single day. That can’t happen without water and we cannot simply move California production to other states. A safe, affordable, domestic food supply is a national security issue, just like energy. The government must make it a priority,” the CFWC said.

“Water supply shortages affect families throughout the state and the nation that depend on California farms for the safe, fresh, and locally-produced farm products we all buy at the grocery store.”

Wade said the Public Policy Institute of California published a recent policy brief: Tracking Where Water Goes in a Changing Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, which found there is plenty of water in wet years which can be stored, but currently is not.

One of the biggest issues Wade said is the ongoing discussion in public that California has seen all of the water we’re going to get, and restrictions and conservation are the only way forward. But that is not accurate if additional reservoirs are built as voters have already approved, and desalination plants are approved.

The Globe asked about the use of recycled water, noting that only one county in the state actually uses recycled  grey water. “Agriculture is the largest user of recycled water at 700,00 acre feet per year,” Wade said. “This has tripled since the late 1980’s.”

The California Farm Water Coalition asks a very important question: “Are Curtailments a Balanced Water Use?

“The California Water Code requires ‘reasonable’ decisions among competing water uses, yet the State Board is asking for the beneficial use of water for fish to almost entirely supersede the beneficial use for agriculture, which is not ‘reasonable.’ And the Public Trust Doctrine seeks a ‘balance’ of uses, yet this curtailment is not a balance.”

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Katy Grimes

Katy Grimes, the Editor of the California Globe, is a long-time Investigative Journalist covering the California State Capitol, and the co-author of California’s War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?

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Tagged 2014 Proposition 1 Water Bond Bait and Switch Scheme, abundant water, Agribusiness, agriculture, California Farm Water Coalition, California farms, Delta, desalination plants, drought, environmental water use, farming, growers, Pacific Ocean, Prop. 1, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), reservoirs, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, SGMA, smelt, State Water Resources Control Board, Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, urban water use, water, water reserves, water shortage

21 thoughts on “California Farm Water Coalition Warns Domestic Food Supply In Peril with State Cutting Water”

  1. Samantha The State Water Resources Board consists of just five unelected member bureaucrats–two of whom were appointed by former Gov. Brown and three were appointed by Gov. Newsom. After looking at their backgrounds, none of them seem qualified to make water allocation decisions for almost 38 million Californians and they appear to have been appointed based on their loyalty to the deep-state Democrat cabal? For example, E. Joaquin Esquivel is the Chair who has a BA degree in english and worked for years as a legislative assistant for Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer. The State Water Resources Board is a joke and has become nothing but a partisian division of the deep-state Democrat cabal to further their agenda? Reply
  2. One Fed Up Cali Girl Well, well, if I did not know any better, I would say this is a manufactured crisis that will lead to famine. 50 percent of our collected water is released into the Pacific Ocean!Build, Back, Better is going just as planned by the followers of the WEF 2030 agenda.
    They will control every aspect of our lives, that is the goal. As I write this, these elitists are in Davos Switzerland planning the next steps.
    Keep voting in creatures such as WEF young global leader Newsom, Bonta and Wiener and California will be no more. Reply
    1. One Fed Up Cali Girl Here is a compilation of all the elitists spouting Build,Back,Better!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkcaeaD45MY Reply
      1. John the Patriot Cali Girl, I call it “poop back better” after Joe’s meeting with the Pope earlier this year in Rome. Reply
  3. Mitchell G Mackenzie California Farm Water Coalition said: “The California Water Code requires ‘reasonable’ decisions among competing water uses, yet the State Board is asking for the beneficial use of water for fish to almost entirely supersede the beneficial use for agriculture, which is not ‘reasonable.’ And the Public Trust Doctrine seeks a ‘balance’ of uses, yet this curtailment is not a balance.”
    If the fish don’t get water, they will die and become extinct and that is a lot worse the big corporate farmers having to go smaller in their production and lower their profits for a few years. They are the ones that overplanted so that is their own doing. They didn’t see the water was becoming scarce when they planted more acres? This is a selfish scam on their part. Farming now gets 80% of the water. I think they can cut back a little and keep the fish alive. Reply
    1. Katy Grimes Water solutions are not mutually exclusive Mitch. And you are incorrect – farming does not get 80% of the state’s water: The first 50% of California’s water flows out to the Pacific Ocean for fish and environmental purposes – something the Public Policy Institute of California verified in 2019 and continues to state: “Water in California is shared across three main sectors. Statewide, average water use is roughly 50% environmental, 40% agricultural, and 10% urban.” Reply
      1. Mitchell G Mackenzie Thank you, Katy. Ok then I stand corrected on farming getting 80% of the water but I did read it somewhere, but I can’t find it now. Are those numbers you quoted nationwide or just CA? Nevertheless, you will have to agree that destroying a species forever because the farmers want to make more profit this year is not a good idea. They are the ones that over planted in the desert when they knew water was already scarce. Been to the Central valley lately and seen all the new plantings in the last 5 years? Yes, water must be managed in a fair way, but farmers yearly profits take a back seat to killing off a species forever no matter how much water it takes to keep the fish and the other species alive in that riverbed. What is left can be used for farming and when there is a drought, the farmer is at the end of the pipe and has to manage with what is left. The HOW or Hierarchy Of Water should be in favor or who or what was here first. I am pretty sure the fish and people were here before those farms were planted. Reply
        1. Chuck Benson Hi Mitchell, I would encourage you to do your research. 50% is for the fish, is that not enough for you? Katy is correct, She is referencing CA water usage. Releasing 50% to the Pacific Ocean seems generous. Does that number seem high to you? Reply
        2. John the Patriot Mitchell, 50% of that water going out to the sea is to save a fish that is extinct. Reply
        3. De Zaad Mitchell, your reading was correct, from a certain way of calculating. Farmers DO get 80% of the water that isn’t allowed to run out to the sea: 40% of the total is 80% of the 50% that is retained. The source you were reading from just was calculating as if the 50% being retained for use was all the water available, conveniently leaving out the rest of the information. Now you know what they were leaving out. Reply
        4. De Zaad The Hierarchy of Water should be in favor of providing the most food for the most number of people. Reply
  4. Dianna Suarez Populations of indigenous people thrived in this landscape with population numbers similar to what we have now without Western agriculture, based on salmon in the rivers, and many other available foods from the environment. The land stewardship they provided over thousands of years created the fertile Valley that has been exploited by the settlers and colonists. The water that was stolen from the indigenous people, has been transported from its natural environment, causing Forests to dry out the salmon to go extinct, and the Delta to die all over the state. This system could never sustain or survive permanently because it is built on a rotten Foundation of genocide and exploitation. It has reached its breaking point and it is breaking. It is time to do a paradigm shift and create a better way Reply
    1. De Zaad Diana: You are utterly mistaken. California has 38 million people, and the population of indigenous people was never more than a fraction of that number. Furthermore, the whole population of the U.S. relies upon the fertile Central Valley providing food. Poor people will be the first to suffer as food prices continue to rise because of shortages. The farmers may just be looking out for their profits, but denying them the means to do business will hurt starving people more. Poor people do not deserve to pay the price of what *some* of their ancestors did. You can’t turn back the clock, and you’re foolish to try. Reply
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