Still, Ylarregui believes most farmers will weather the drought, thanks in part to higher commodity prices.

But a lingering concern for lenders and others is what will happen – to both short and long term loans – if 2015 is also dry and there are no carry-in supplies of surface water.

Ylarregui said he agrees with the forecast that the greatest impacts will be on dairy and beef cattle. And he and other speakers said it’s likely that government will regulate even more strictly the monitoring and use of water.

“When is the government going to say, ‘That is not your water?’’” he asked.

 

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The meeting opened with an update on the state’s regulation of water use on irrigated lands and included presentations by Terry Bechtel, environmental scientist with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board; Parry Klassen with the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition; and Rick Hoelzel with the Kings River Water Quality Coalition.

Bechtel said “a lot of almond and grape growers” have not enrolled in coalitions. He said it “makes sense” to join a coalition, which costs much less than seeking individual compliance with rules on surface water and groundwater.

Hoelzel and Klassen said all growers must either join a coalition or must contact the region board to apply for an individual water discharge permit by May 19.

Bechtel said that, in a sense, the added monitoring is a “good news, bad news” proposition: “Having to do the monitoring may be bad news, but the good news is that the results have been good.”

The meeting concluded with a presentation by Jonathan Alexander, with Pinnacle Claims Management Inc., on the Affordable Care Act. He said it’s especially important for growers to tally workers’ hours and determine whether they fall in the small or large employer category, and he discussed “pay or play” penalties.

 

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