In a campaign aimed at publicizing the threat to the nation’s food supply, the California Farm Water Coalition partnered with the Family Farm Alliance and Klamath Water Users Association to show consumers how water policies are contributing to food shortages and rising prices.
Beginning April 2 with a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal, the campaign progressed over the summer with paid social media posts aimed at consumers aged 18 to 44. Ads were written to inform readers that food supplies are at risk and that prices are expected to rise, which they did- to record levels.
Readers were also encouraged to click a link to learn more at a special landing page on the CFWC web site with information on the connection between water and food security. https://www.farmwater.org/food-security-and-water/
To date, the campaign has generated over 7 million impressions with almost 210,000 people clicking the link to visit the web site where major points with supporting information included:
By refusing to recognize the importance of a safe, affordable food supply and restore balance to their water policies, bureaucrats are endangering America’s food supply chain.
Western agriculture cannot simply be moved elsewhere. The unique combination of climate, soil, and other factors give it the ability to provide a diverse array of crops in quantities that cannot be replicated in other regions.
Current water policy is creating deserts where food used to be grown, which helps perpetuate the cycle of drought and wildfires, and makes climate change worse. Irrigated farmland helps slow the effects of climate change.
We can do something about it. We must move quickly to build new infrastructure that has been funded at both the federal and state levels to capture additional water in wet years to make available during the next drought.
“This campaign has been a huge success by helping drive the public discussion on the risk to our nation’s food supply through policies that deny water to our farms,” said CFWC Executive Director Mike Wade. “We will continue hitting this issue through the election and beyond, with the goal of holding elected officials and government appointees accountable for their actions.”
The war in Ukraine and all the global unrest it is causing has focused American’s attention on just how uncertain a world we inhabit.
Inflation was already wreaking havoc on family budgets and now gas prices are also skyrocketing.
Which is exactly why our government should be doing everything it can to reduce reliance on foreign sources for our basic needs, especially food.
Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what is happening.
Through out-of-balance regulatory policies and a failure to prioritize western farming, our government is putting our safe, affordable, domestic food supply at risk.
Over 80% of our country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown west of the Rockies and simply cannot be moved elsewhere. Without that supply, Americans will see shortages at the store, even higher prices, be forced to rely more heavily on increasingly unstable foreign sources, or all of these at the same time.
When you make a salad, have fruit for breakfast, eat a hamburger with cheese, or put tomato sauce and garlic on a pizza, odds are that at least some of those products came from California.
But without a reliable water supply, that farmland simply cannot produce what our country needs.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
In some western states, the government is holding on to existing water supply, rather than release it to farms to grow food. In California, we must move more quickly to build and repair infrastructure that will help us store more water in wet years for use in dry ones like this one. And in general, water policy has become unbalanced in ways that penalize the farms trying to produce our food supply.
California farmers are doing their part and have reduced water use by double digits since 1980. Throughout the West, farms are also important in the battle against climate change because crop production helps remove carbon dioxide from the air. If things continue the way they are, our government is essentially creating deserts instead of food production, which will only perpetuate the cycles of drought and wildfires we’d like to avoid.
Food price increases in 2022 are now expected to exceed those observed in 2020 and 2021. Without changes in water policy, it will continue to get worse.
It has never been more important that U.S. consumers insist on domestically grown food in our stores.
CFWC Executive Director, Mike Wade, appeared on China Central Television (CCTV) recently to talk about California’s drought and the need for further investments in California’s water supply infrastructure. Also appearing in the story were San Joaquin Valley farmer, Joe Del Bosque,, Almond Board of California President and CEO, Richard Waycott, and Caitlin Boyer of the Department of Water Resources. A transcript of the voice-over is below. Images and video clips from the story are here: https://bit.ly/3D4k7Y0
VO:Recently, the western region of the United States has experienced continuous high temperature and dry weather. California, located in the western United States, is an important agricultural state, where the production of various crops accounts for an important proportion in the United States and even the world. The continued high temperature and drought this summer have brought severe challenges to local agriculture. Recently, a CCTV reporter visited farms in central California.
VO:Joe Del Bosque’s farm is located in Joaquin County, California’s central valley. This farm was founded in 1985 and now has 2,000 acres (about 810 hectares) of land. Due to the continuous high temperature and dry weather and the shortage of agricultural irrigation water, the planting situation here is quite bleak this year, and many vast fields are left fallow. Joe’s farm is often able to grow at least five crops every planting season, but due to the severe high temperature and dry weather this year and the lack of water storage the previous year, he only planted three crops this year: melons, almonds and cherries.
VO: Due to factors such as uncontrollable natural precipitation and insufficient popularity of rainwater harvesting technology, agricultural planting in California generally relies on the snow pack of northern mountains, and in the coming year, the agricultural irrigation water is obtained according to the advance allocation.
Standup: Due to the continuous reduction of water storage in the upstream reservoir, the water level of the canal called St. Louis, which is mainly used for agricultural irrigation, has been below the safety line, and eventually the diversion canal that flows to the farmland is also seriously short of water.
Standup:As indicated on the farm side sign, no water means no job, as is the case with Joe’s farm, which has suffered from a shortage of water for agricultural irrigation due to extreme heat and drought this year. The number of workers can only be one-third to one-half of previous years, which has caused many people to lose their jobs.
VO: We drove about 50 kilometers north to the St. Louis Reservoir, which provided water for Joe’s farm. This is the largest reservoir in the United States that has no tributaries and is completely converged by artificial water pipelines, providing agricultural water for thousands of farms in central and southern California and other downstream areas.
VO:We can see the dire situation California agriculture is facing this year in a chart that records the annual water storage capacity of the St. Louis Reservoir, which is only 47% full. With less than half of the water in the reservoir, many farms are left to find their own solution.
VO:Almonds are one of the representative crops of California agriculture. The annual output of California almonds accounts for 80% of the world’s total. The California Almond Association has been established for more than 70 years and has been helping growers better connect with the market and sell their products to worldwide. Association CEO Richard said California agriculture, which has a long tradition, has faced unprecedented difficulties this year.
VO:In addition, because the continuation of the new crown epidemic has brought severe challenges to global logistics, for agricultural products, the value of agricultural products accumulated in warehouses or in containers at port terminals can only be depreciated again and again. The impact is particularly severe for crops such as California almonds, which are exported in large quantities.
VO:The 2022 drought will cost the U.S. economy more than $3 billion, according to the California Agricultural Water Alliance. The inflationary pressure brought by the tight global supply chain to various countries is also directly reflected in all aspects of agricultural production. Transportation and packaging costs are increasing, which will eventually be passed on to consumers, allowing consumers to directly feel the price increase.
With adequate and dependable water supplies,
one acre of California farmland will grow
50,000 9-oz. salads.
That’s A Lot!
Status of the water needed to grow our food
Water shortages that continue to plague California are increasingly affecting the number of acres devoted to growing our food. Farmers are making tough choices on which crops and how much to plant in the face of crushing water supply cuts. The state could see as much as 691,000 acres taken out of production this year, a 75 percent increase over last year and 151,000 acres more than the previous high in 2015.
Critical for consumers are the crops that won’t make it to the grocery store because of insufficient water supplies. Fresh fruits and vegetables, along with processing tomatoes, strawberries, citrus, peaches, broccoli, and rice are among the crops impacted when farm water supplies are cut off. It’s estimated that up to 40 percent of California’s irrigated cropland will receive little or no surface water this year.
For 112 years Oakdale (OID) and South San Joaquin Irrigation districts (SSJID) have been the senior water right diverters on the Stanislaus River. In 1972, an agreement was struck by the two districts with the Bureau of Reclamation on how the district’s water will flow-through the New Melones Dam facility after it being constructed. Since then, the district’s water gets stored behind New Melones Dam annually and used when called upon by the districts. Under this agreement with the government, any water left behind New Melones Dam at the end of the year would be relinquished to the federal agency.
For more than two decades, both districts have had the opportunity and taken advantage of transferring portions of their
annual water supply through willing buyer/willing seller transactions. Transferred water has historically gone to other water districts in the area, to out-of-area districts, releases to the California Department of Water Resources, and even sales to the Bureau of Reclamation
Recently, however, Reclamation changed its interpretation of the 50-year-old contract, insisting that water transfers out of the basin are now no longer allowed, despite a history of such. Any water destined for a transfer
this year that could be a lifeline to other federal water contractors south of the delta would be relinquished to Reclamation and used for other purposes, such as bay-delta water quality enhancement or fish flows, not for agriculture. South-of-delta farmers and 1.2 million acres of farmland hoping for transferred water are anxious for these supplies because their current allocation from Reclamation’s Shasta Reservoir is zero.
Reclamation should adhere to the historic interpretation of its contract and allow water transfers, ESPECIALLY in a year like this, when so many farmers, rural communities, farm-related businesses, and federal wildlife refuges, are suffering under near unprecedented drought.
Read more: Modesto Bee: https://www.modbee.com/opinion/editorials/article252267888.html