Farm Leader Calls for Quick Negotiations on Drought Bills

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Paul Wenger, President, California Farm Bureau Federation

Paul Wenger, President, California Farm Bureau Federation

Welcoming passage of a U.S. Senate bill to address water problems caused by the severe California drought, California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger urged congressional leaders to immediately begin negotiations to reconcile the bill with legislation passed earlier by the House of Representatives.

“Now, the real work begins,” Wenger said. “Water shortages are causing widespread suffering for California family farmers and those who depend on them for jobs and environmental stewardship. Now that each house has passed drought measures, we need to meld the two in ways that provide the swiftest, most effective relief possible.”

Wenger praised Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her authorship of the Senate bill and Central Valley Reps. David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Jim Costa and Jeff Denham for their work on the House measure.

“Congress recognizes that California’s water system is outdated, and so is the way we operate it,” Wenger said. “The House and Senate bills set the stage for long-overdue discussions of how to make the system work better for farms, cities and the environment—particularly in droughts like we’re experiencing now.”

Wenger said Farm Bureau and other organizations will monitor the upcoming negotiations closely.

“One reason the drought has hit California so hard is that we have failed for the past 30 years to modernize our water system,” he said. “California cannot afford another 20 or 30 years of inaction. Drought and water shortages hit farmers first and hardest, but they will cause losses that ricochet throughout the wider economy and the environment. Congress must act quickly to ease the pain by finalizing effective drought-relief legislation.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 78,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.