The California State Board of Food and Agriculture held another public comment session last week in Fresno to hear concerns regarding the development of California’s water resilience portfolio. The input provided through the series of public comment sessions will help the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the Natural Resources Agency, and the California Environmental Protection Agency craft recommendations for Governor Gavin Newsom to address his plans for ensuring healthy waterways.
CDFA Secretary Karen Ross said the meeting was productive and highlighted the cooperative spirit that the industry has adopted in addressing water issues moving forward. “I was very impressed by how many folks are engaged in what they’re calling the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint. Really watching the water, farm, community leaders work together on a shared vision for the entire valley I think that’s going to be a really strong suit for them moving forward,” Ross noted.
Back in April Governor Newsom enacted an executive order, setting in a motion of a series of actions to develop a water resilience portfolio to address current and future challenges for managing the state’s water supplies. Much of the discussion during the meeting centered on working towards amicable solutions for water management that will not require the fallowing of usable farmland.
“We need to look at how we make decisions, we need to strengthen partnerships, and we need to bring in all the perspectives and collaborate. That’s not an easy thing,” said Ross. “I think Dave Cory said it best, ‘these stakeholder processes are tedious and painful sometimes, but we always achieve better results by going through that process.’”
Representatives from several agricultural groups including the Nisei Farmers League, American Farmland Trust, and the Western Agricultural Processors Association took the opportunity to contribute to the water discussion. A number of farmers and ranchers also provided some feedback during the comment session, highlighting concern about the future of farming in California amidst a regulatory environment that continues to become more stringent.
“These are desperate times. Farming is not getting easier. There’s a long list of issues and water is the heartbeat of how we do what we do,” Ross noted. “We cannot succeed if we don’t work together and that’s what I saw here today. I’m very impressed with the leadership that’s here.”