What is in this article?:
- High unemployment and food prices predicted in the wake of California drought
- Predictions of at least a million acres of farmland to be fallowed this year
Competing bills in Congress have lawmakers "throwing bombs" at each other
World Ag Expo Water Summit participants include, from left, panel discussion moderator Mario Santoyo, executive Director of the California Latino Water Coalition; and Joe Del Bosque, Central Valley farmer and member of the California Water Commission. Del Bosque hosted President Barack Obama the following day at his Los Banos farm during the president's tour of drought-stricken California.
Consensus may have reached a crescendo regarding California’s epic drought, but political partisanship raises concern over whether short-term and long-term fixes needed can ever be achieved.
Fifteen people participated in two panel discussions at the World Ag Expo Water Summit in Tulare, Calif. Their opinions on the impacts to California growers and communities ranged from “dire” to “catastrophic.”
The summit held on the last day of the World Ag Expo came just one day ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to drought-parched California.
Los Banos grower Joe Del Bosque participated in the water summit on Thursday of the Farm Show, and then the next day hosted the president at his western Merced County farm. Also touring with the president included both U.S. senators from California: Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer; U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno; California Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Bosque said the conditions he faces couldn’t be worse. He will get no surface water from the Central Valley Project. Available well water on a small part of his farm is not sufficient because of the shrinking aquifer and the salty water.
President Obama met privately with several ag leaders and water managers before speaking publicly from Bosque’s farm. California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger was among the group that met privately with the President. Wenger grows almonds, walnuts corn and alfalfa on 450 acres of land in Modesto.
Wenger was pleased that the president came to California because it shines a large spotlight on California agriculture and the drought. Farm Bureau gave a letter of support to a Feinstein bill aimed at providing some help to the state.
According to Wenger, Westlands Water District and the Friant Water Authority likewise support Feinstein’s effort in the Senate because it puts the issue on the table and opens up the debate.
“We need to get something going,” Wenger said. “The current version will have to go to conference once it passes the Senate, and that’s where the discussions will take place.”