Friday, February 27, 2015

Farmers brace for another zero allocation for ag

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's initial allocations of Central Valley Project water will be formally announced within the hour, but farm groups are anticipating another zero allocation and are already starting to release statements.

From the California Farm Bureau Federation:
Continued drought and problems in water management combine to extend the suffering in rural communities, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. CFBF President Paul Wenger said today’s announcement that the federal Central Valley Project will likely deliver no water to most of its agricultural customers—for a second straight year—reinforces the need to move quickly on water projects authorized by the Proposition 1 water bond and on congressional reform of environmental laws.

“The CVP announcement is both saddening and maddening,” Wenger said. “It’s saddening because the continued cutoff of water will prolong the impact of water shortages on farmers, their employees and rural communities. It’s maddening because California still struggles to manage water wisely and flexibly, especially in dry years.”

Wenger noted ongoing conflicts in water management, specifically about how much water is repeatedly dedicated to protection of fish and wildlife at the expense of jobs and food production for people.

“In a year like this, when every drop of water is more precious than ever, we must improve our ability to store storm flows when we can,” he said. “People have real frustration about bureaucratic decisions that send excess water out to sea beyond what’s needed for the ecosystem and delta water quality, when that water could be stored for later use, both by people and in the environment.”

Wenger said the continued drought lends urgency to the current process of allocating money to be invested from the water bond approved by California voters last November.

“Farm Bureau and other organizations will continue to work with the California Water Commission to ensure that bond money for surface-water storage projects is apportioned as rapidly and as effectively as possible,” Wenger said. “We are suffering now from our past failure to improve our water system. We shouldn’t compound the suffering by studying projects to death. It’s time to invest the money that Californians voted to invest.”

He also called on Congress to move quickly “to provide relief from rigid environmental laws that have failed to balance species protections with human needs.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 57,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.
California Citrus Mutual president Joel Nelsen told me this morning the expected announcement is "flawed."

"We think the state and federal agencies and administrations have a policy that essentially destroys the food supply," he said. "We've got to be the only state and nation on earth setting policies that do that."

Watch for updates soon.

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