Western Growers has financed an economic impact study to quantify the harm to California growers associated with reductions of water supplied by state and federal Delta operations.

The study's findings have been introduced in federal court hearings taking place this week in Fresno, Calif., on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The court is weighing proposals that include cutbacks to Delta pumping in order to protect the Delta smelt population. The economic impact study, Agricultural and Regional Economic Impacts of Reduced State Water Project and Central Valley Project Water Supplies Due to Pumping Reductions, illustrates both the short-term (one year) and long-term impacts on California agriculture should the court accept the proposed remedy put forth by state and federal officials.

"California farmers are already feeling the affects of an extremely dry year and the 10-day Delta pump shutdown. Western Growers made the decision to finance this economic impact study to provide credible evidence of the additional harm that would be done to California agriculture if the proposals being considered before the federal court this week are adopted," said Stephen Patricio, chair of the Western Growers Board of Directors and president/CEO of Westside Produce (Firebaugh, Calif.).

"However, the harm would not stop with California farmers," he said. "Entire communities that rely on a healthy agriculture economy would see job losses in transportation, distribution, finance, insurance, equipment and other industries.

"This court case is one of many indicators that California is in desperate need of a comprehensive water solution that includes new surface water storage, alternative Delta conveyance and conservation," said Patricio. "The California fresh produce industry is at a point of intolerable uncertainty, and we cannot afford to wait for a solution any longer."

Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose nearly 3,000 members grow, pack and ship 90 percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and 75 percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half the nation's produce.