Rain is expected to give way to partly cloudy to cloudy skies with no rain forecast for the final two days of World Ag Expo. A high of 60 is predicted for Thursday.

The rain was steady and moderately heavy at times Tuesday. Water was running down the alleys, but the crowd was surprisingly large for a cold, blustery day. By noon, the parking lots around the World Ag Expo grounds were full.

Obviously, the buildings were packed with attendees getting out of the rain. Outside traffic was sparse.

Dave Davis, sales manager of Actagro, manufacturer of organic acid-based nutrient products said traffic was good at the Biola, Calif., company’s Pavilion C booth.

“It was a good opening day,” he said.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his third visit to World Ag Expo since he became California’s governor, offering praise for agriculture and promoting the controversial $11 billion water bond issue on the November ballot.

In visiting with exhibitors, the governor said he is “not running for office.” He said his “love for agriculture” drew him to the Expo on a cold, wet day.

He praised the “environmental progress” agriculture has made in areas like water conservation.

His agriculture secretary, A. G. Kawamura, head of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, acknowledged during a presentation at an international trade seminar that the November water bond package lacks full agricultural support, but he warned that unless it passes, the future for the state’s water collecting system could be placed in even greater peril.

He also warned that the above average rainfall and snowpack California is experiencing should not lull the state’s populous into believing the water crisis has subsided.

“The drought is not over,” said California’s agricultural leader.

He pointed to Australia that is in the throes of a 12-year drought. “Three out of those 12 years there has been normal rainfall, yet over the 12-year period farm gate income has gone down 50 percent.” California’s agriculture is very much like Australia’s.

Climate change could be responsible for what is happening in Australia and California, he said.

Kawamura is a third generation Orange County, Calif., produce grower and as a farmer he said the technology available at World Ag Expo helps to take the unpredictability out of farming.

“Farmers want no surprises,” he said and in California’s temperate climate a producer has a good chance of using technology to give even more predictability to farming.

The unpredictable part of farming in California can come from invasive species, disruption of markets from food safety scares and the vulnerable Bay Delta.

He likened California’s Delta to the Netherlands where huge ocean-surge floods devastated the country in the past. Now there is a water protection system for that one-in-10,000 year flood event.

That may seem like overkill, but Kawamura said that kind of protection builds in predictability for the country and its agricultural future.

He said California’s agriculture is challenged by a “sloppy” federal inspection system at the borders and ports which is allowing in invasive species that California is challenged to detect and eradicate.

This effort to keep invasive species out of the state is frustrated by state budget restraints to detect these invasive species early enough for eradication to work.

Today’s Expo activities include a major seminar on California’s water future and what growers can do in a short water supply year.

There are seminars on Beef production, as well as developing and marketing biogas for energy generation.

Gates open at 9 a.m. today and tomorrow.

email: hcline@farmpress.com