A bipartisan group of Central Valley lawmakers and elected officials are calling for more drought action from Governor Gavin Newsom. During a news conference in Fresno County, the group of lawmakers from Fresno, Madera, Kings, and Tulare counties declared a regional drought emergency. The action corresponds with other recent efforts encouraging Governor Newsom to announce a statewide drought declaration. Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen participated in the event and told AgNet West that conditions in the Central Valley absolutely warrant action from the governor.
“This group is trying to highlight the reasons why we should be more proactive in trying to prepare for what’s coming this summer versus being reactive and waiting until the worst of it hits us,” Jacobsen noted. “We understand the governor not wanting to do a statewide approach. We understand there are unique circumstances throughout all the different parts and regions of the state. But we also know that not taking immediate action to do something in the Valley is absolutely wrong at this point.”
Governor Newsom recently took drought action in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, announcing a targeted emergency declaration based on the hydrology of the area. The dry conditions in the Central Valley are also being felt by farmers and ranchers. Jacobsen detailed instances of productive orchards being pulled out. Some growers are also shaking their current crop to reduce water needs and save the trees for next year. Concerns were raised regarding how dry the area already is in the beginning of May and what that will mean in the coming summer months. While a statewide emergency will not create more water, it would increase the flexibility for water transfers and deliveries.
“We know that the stroke of a pen on a declaration doesn’t solve anything. We need to find those answers. We need to find those solutions that truly will make a difference to help us patch this work together,” said Jacobsen. “Right now, we don’t know if we’re in year two of a two-year drought, or year two of a five to 10-year drought. So that is our big question mark when it comes to the planning process. We know that getting in front of it earlier though is going to help.”
Listen to the interview below.