Agriculture reacted positively to California Governor Edmund Brown’s Drought State of Emergency announcement Jan. 17 amid water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history.

California’s chief executive directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for extreme drought conditions.

“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Governor Brown said.

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California agriculture and water leaders responded in a positive fashion to the official announcement.

Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Nassif is grateful for Governor Brown’s action, acknowledging that dire drought conditions are wreaking havoc on California growers, especially in the San Joaquin Valley.

“We look to the Governor and the Obama Administration to take emergency actions to ensure speedy approval of any water transfers that are still possible,” Nassif said.

Members of Western Growers produce about half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables.

Nassif continued, “Just as importantly, if we are fortunate and California receives even a moderate amount of precipitation this year, we look to the Obama Administration to allow the state and federal water projects that convey water from the north to the south, to operate at the highest end of their discretion within the existing rules limiting water exports to protect fish species, when pulse flows reach the Delta.

Governor Brown’s announcement was lauded by Westlands Water District (WWD) General Manager Tom Birmingham.

“The Governor’s declaration recognizes that the State of California is facing unprecedented drought conditions,” the Westlands leader said.

“After several consecutive dry years, compounded by regulations that have restricted water deliveries through the federal Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project, the people who live and work in agricultural areas of the Valley are facing a disaster,” said Birmingham.

Westlands expects to fallow one-third of its 600,000 acres in the coming year since water is unavailable. Westlands is located in western Fresno and Kings counties along the western side of the San Joaquin Valley.