Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) and Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), along with a bipartisan group of Valley legislators, are requesting Governor Gavin Newsom address the abysmal water allocation crisis for Valley food producers. The request comes after the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced a slim five-percent water allocation for farmers and growers on National Agriculture Day.
In March of 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline workers in the agricultural industry stepped up to keep food on the table for the state and nation. The pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of California’s food supply chain and highlighted the importance of food and water security to prevent the state’s reliance on foreign imports.
“As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I have repeatedly stressed how water and food security is a key component of our national security,” said Senator Borgeas. “This bipartisan request from Valley legislators demonstrates the dire need for the Governor’s administration to take action and deliver more water to farms and rural communities.”
The letter requests Governor Newsom do the following:
- Issue a statewide emergency declaration and give agencies the flexibility to increase water allocations;
- Allow Valley lawmakers to meet with DWR officials; and,
- Create a financial assistance program for farmers given the state’s unanticipated revenues.
Approximately 1 million acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland are expected to be fallowed over two to three decades because of reduced ground and surface water availability. California is also expected to shed approximately 85,000 jobs lost as a direct result of reduced water access – not including indirect job loss from supporting industries.
In addition to Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Andreas Borgeas and Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Robert Rivas, a bipartisan coalition of Valley legislators also signed the letter: Senators Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) and Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) as well as Assemblymembers Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals), Heath Flora (R-Ripon), Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) and Adam Gray (D-Merced).
Read the full letter here.