Poll affirms Americans’ support for farm water
Americans have confirmed their support for farmers’ use of water to produce food and fiber during times of scarcity in a recent poll by AP-GfK.
The drought now affecting California and other Western states has captured the public’s attention, with the majority of those polled (56 percent) noting that they are following news about the drought somewhat, or extremely/very closely. With the eyes of the nation on California’s problems, the public recognizes that our states’ farms are being threatened-with 74 percent believing that water for agriculture should be a priority, more than any other water use.
This renewed focus provides a unique opportunity to share the care and effort taken by farmers in growing our farm products. California’s farmers are committed to producing food and fiber in ecologically-sensitive ways, investing heavily in improvements in water use efficiency systems like soil moisture sensors, irrigation scheduling and automation, and precision drip irrigation.
Farmers recognize that water is precious, and recycle and reuse water whenever possible. For decades farmers in California have captured unused water from one field for reuse on nearby fields. As technologies improve, other emerging opportunities for water recycling also show promise. Farmers are already using purified urban runoff and wastewater that has been treated to remove impurities to supplement fresh water, and expanding use of solar stills to desalinate water and remove other troublesome minerals is already in the works.
Recent criticism of consumers’ food choices has argued that growing food in California using these and other sophisticated agronomic practices demands vast sums of water to be grown in California, but the truth is, for many crops, California is exactly the right place.
California is unique in our ability to grow more than 400 different types of food and other farm products. This variety comes courtesy of California’s sheer size: Roughly 800 miles north to south, California is home to a diverse range of growing conditions. Making sweeping generalizations about California’s suitability for agriculture ignores just how diverse the state really is.
The years of water supply instability prior to the drought challenged farmers’ ability to produce our food Overcoming the challenges of nature require us to identify solutions that benefit us all. Right now, however, we are struggling against bureaucracies and regulations that are contrary to the will of the people.