Feb 20, 2020
Trump’s action to coordinate California water projects supported

The (Feb. 19) signing of a record of decision coordinating federal and state water projects offers a hopeful sign, according to California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson.

Johansson, who attended the ceremony (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-signs-memorandum-diverting-more-water-to-california-farmers) in Bakersfield, California where President Donald Trump announced the signing of the document, said the action will add much-needed flexibility to operation of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project. He also thanked the president for signing a memo directing federal agencies to coordinate efforts to store more water, offer regulatory certainty and improve protection of protected species.

“Farmers are optimists and this is a day for optimism,” Johansson said. “The federal agencies have taken a holistic look at the California water system and offered an alternative that promises to improve the health of the environment without devastating people whose communities and livelihoods depend on reliable water supplies.

“We should embrace this new approach and give it a chance to succeed,” he said. “We know all too well that the policies of the past 25-plus years haven’t worked.”

Johansson said better coordination and improved flexibility of federal and state water project operations would benefit people throughout California.

“Federal and state officials need to be pulling in the same direction to assure the most efficient use of California water for fish and people,” he said. “We hope people at all levels of government can cooperate on plans to enhance the environment, accommodate a growing population and maintain productive farms and ranches.”

Johansson expressed disappointment in reports indicating the state government will sue over today’s federal actions, and said solutions to California water problems will be found in constructive discussions, not in courtrooms.

“We have to get off the merry-go-round of endless litigation,” he said. “No one benefits from that. Fisheries continue to suffer. Productive farmland goes unused. It’s not a sustainable path for anyone. Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for practical, reasonable, cooperative ways to address California’s water supply needs.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation has nearly 34,000 members statewide as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.

Western Growers statement on approval

President and CEO Dave Puglia issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s approval of new federal biological opinions in a Record of Decision that updates regulatory policies governing water storage and conveyance.

“The Record of Decision approved by President Trump yesterday presents a long-needed break from the inflexible regulatory regime that has restricted water storage and conveyance since 2008. That regime has failed all interests – urban and rural communities as well as endangered and threatened species – by every objective measurement.

“We hope the Newsom Administration continues to approach this matter with objectivity and pragmatism. In his commitment to negotiating effective voluntary settlement agreements that would commit significant water flows and funding for habitat programs, the Governor has moved past ideologically-driven conflicts, usually in the form of litigation, that have beset water policy in California for decades. That is a hard trail to blaze, but it’s the only true path forward. Given the inherent linkage between Delta operations under the revised biological opinions and the prospective voluntary settlement agreements, it is even more critical that our elected leaders seek practical and effective outcomes for all interests. ”

Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. Some members also farm throughout the U.S. and in other countries so people have year-round access to nutritious food. For generations, we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) statement

Max Teplitski, PMA’s chief science officer, has provided the following statement.

“USDA is rolling out an initiative that will take the next bold step that will reshape agriculture.  By focusing research and data efforts in agricultural sustainability, the USDA will seek to support American farmers to adopt new technologies and practices while lessening industry’s environmental footprint. Just as the healthcare industry benefited from tens of billions of dollars of federally supported research each year, it is time to afford an opportunity to do the same for agriculture.

We applaud USDA’s efforts to streamline research efforts and develop new tools that will increase sustainability of agricultural production.  At PMA, sustainability means first of all, that commercial operations are economically sustainable. This gives our industry the time and means to focus on responsible stewardship of land and water that will allow farmers grow crops with minimal environmental footprint while feeding our growing world. We foster creative solutions that will allow to minimize packaging waste and promote wise energy use; we continue to support ethically responsible labor practices.  We recognize a need for smart scientifically-validated tools to assess the positive impacts of horticulture on the environment.  

While we welcome efforts to promote agricultural sustainability, our production practices are distinct from those of row crops and our industry is unique in another important way: produce and floral are highly perishable. Market fluctuations and even minor weather events mean million-dollar losses.  Sustainability and viability of our operations critically depend on demand creation and predictable opportunities to sell produce and floral at fair market values.  Conversations about sharing data have to include provisions for responsible data management so that the industry has real incentives for sharing proprietary data with our federal partners.  Importantly, we need to be clear-eyed about the fact that the implementation of new practices will have a real cost.  Without a doubt, conservation practices will benefit the environment and the generations of urban and rural dwellers alike. Because we will step up, we need to know that the financial burden associated with the implementation of these practices is not ours alone to carry.  Everybody along the supply chain, who plays their part, needs to know that their efforts are incentivized through responsible government programs. PMA welcomes the USDA announcement and recognizes it as an investment not only in our industry and our environment but also in our consumers who deserve fresh, delicious and healthy fresh produce all year round.”

Photo: Lake Oroville in California


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