Water has always been an important concern in agriculture. According to Jim Beck, Kern County Water Agency general manager, in 2009 California water issues will be more important than ever.

“I can’t emphasize enough that we really are at a turning point for California water,” Beck said. “I think we are currently enduring the worst crisis that water users have ever faced and how we face this crisis over the next two to three years will not only shape agriculture but the whole state’s economy.”

As the Agency’s general manager, Beck has been instrumental in many programs that have placed the Agency at the forefront of water management statewide. He has been with the Agency for 24 years and works closely on the State Water Project, which is a major source of water for irrigated farmland in California.

Beck will be one of the featured speakers at the 2009 Central Coast Cotton Conference, which will be held Jan. 21-23, 2009, at the Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach. The annual meeting is a continuing education course for California growers, agronomists, crop consultants, pest control advisors and educators. Beck will be addressing a variety of water-related issues including the water supply outlook for 2009 and beyond.

According to Beck, water users are facing a three-front battle and should be preparing for what could be one of the worst water years in the past 30 years. His goal for the meeting is to help arm growers and others in the ag industry with information they can use to combat some of these problems.

Beck will also discuss the potential actions growers can implement in the short-term, the ways agriculture industry members can help ensure supply issues are addressed, and the recent report issued by the Pacific Institute that criticized growers for their water use in California.

Beck believes it is now more important than ever for growers and members of the California agriculture industry to get involved, and meetings like the Central Coast Cotton Conference are a great place to do it. The sixth annual meeting also provides members of the cotton and field crop agriculture community an opportunity to come together to learn about these and other important topics.

The theme for 2009 Central Coast Cotton Conference is “New Frontiers: Innovative production strategies for a changing industry.” The meeting’s newly expanded focus will include other field crops such as corn, wheat, alfalfa and processing tomatoes.

Three half-day sessions will include topics to help growers maximize production while minimizing costs; adapt new technologies such as precision farming; implement integrated farming solutions; and address water issues. The conference also features production and agronomy sessions with topics such as soils and pest management.

For more information about the Central Coast Cotton Conference or to register, please visit www.cottonconference.com or call (805) 239-8200.