While the foreign trade climate continues to stay heated, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spent a few days touring farming operations up and down the state making several stops within the San Joaquin Valley. His visits were met by agriculture industry professionals who chatted about major industry topics during roundtable discussions. The topics included tariffs, export markets, market access and relief programs, accessible foreign workforce and reliable water supplies.
Accompanying Perdue were Congressmen Jim Costa, Jeff Denham, Steve Knight and David Valadao.
After thanking the secretary for taking the time to visit with local farmers, in a statement, Costa said, “As a third-generation family farmer, I know first-hand how vitally important trade, water and access to labor are to our Valley’s agricultural system. Agriculture is different in every region of the country and it is important to understand these differences. California exports over 40 percent of its products and tariffs are already beginning to negatively affect access to foreign markets. No one wins a trade war and this one will hurt Valley communities and our families. I look forward to working with the Secretary to address these concerns.”
During Perdue’s stop in Kingsburg, representatives from California industries — some of which lead the nation in production– including nuts, stone fruits and dairy made sure the state didn’t get overlooked. Perdue reasoned with folks around the table, bringing up his roots in the ag industry and that he relates to their concerns. Those gathered reiterated the diversity of California’s farming Valley and how it differs from other ag producing regions the Secretary may be familiar with. Perdue continued to listen and assured he is working with the administration to develop policy.
Also discussed — water.
As overseas tariffs continue to concern American ag producers, California farmers and ranchers also have concerns on their home turf as water restrictions continue to build. “There is no issue more important to the future of the San Joaquin Valley than ensuring reliable water supplies,” Representative Costa said. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the Administration in a bipartisan way to bring more water to our Valley.”
Perdue seemed to be on the same page as farmers when it came to unimpaired water flows and other water-related topics. Though he won’t be able to make the water rally on August 20 at the state capitol, he wished he could be there to support the ag community. Perdue added the proposed unimpaired flows are “one of the silliest things I’ve heard of.”
While he joked that back in Georgia where there is more water than they could use, some states still argue over it. He suggested the solution be a simple one, though. “The fact is, it’s a matter of how we all get together to work as one team—Americans,” Purdue said. “Environmentalist and those who care about our fish and endangered species also care about eating every day and if the farmers don’t have water they are not going to get food to the United States.”
Listen to the interview with Perdue below.