Farm Progress is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Serving: West

Can California find a common voice on water?

Sacramento Capitol Building

That didn’t take long.

Several months after California voters approved a multi-billion dollar bond measure to fund water infrastructure and storage projects a group of folks are gathering signatures for a new initiative that some say will muddy the water and eliminate any gains achieved by the passage of Proposition 1 (the water bond).

In short, the new group has stirred up a hornet’s nest within the industry.

The Fresno Bee apparently invited a small group of agricultural and political leaders to weigh in on the issue. Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley and Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League are interviewed for the article, saying that it will do more harm than good.

Isn’t that how most political decisions go these days?

It’s not just them. The board of the Northern California Water Association, an organization whose mission focuses on water issues in the Sacramento Valley, calls the effort “misleading” and is opposing the effort.

The California Water4All website has the actual language of the proposal. Read it for yourself and see what you think.

One can’t blame proponents of the idea. After multiple years with curtailed and severely-limited water allocations to farmers and decades of court decisions that have drained irrigation ditches in favor of fish and wildlife, growers have had enough. They’re fighting now for their very existence.

Is a knee-jerk ballot initiative process the way to go? Sadly for many in California these referendums are seen as the only recourse as California’s elected leaders are well-known for kicking the proverbial can down the road to avoid making the decisions we pay them to make.

The blame falls uniformly on both sides of the political aisle, though California’s political winds have blown from the same direction for decades.

As I understand it, the roots of California’s water woes tap into the federal Endangered Species Act and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which set in motion later court challenges and decisions from the bench that did not support production agriculture.

According to the Fresno Bee, the measure is put together by the California Water Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about water issues. It is being supported by State Sen. Robert Huff, R-Diamond Bar, and George Runner, a member of the State Board of Equalization.

My early thoughts on this have less to do with who is right and who is wrong in this debate; rather, my concerns are directed at the division and infighting, something that is painfully too common among agriculture. I’ve said this before: the internal bickering needs to stop, for the good of industry.

I support agriculture, but when I see infighting like this it’s not difficult to agree with political leaders I personally oppose who have told high-placed agricultural leaders that agriculture’s infighting is evident to outsiders and until agriculture gets its ideas and voice in sync they’re not going to win the big battles.

What do you think? Let’s have an honest discussion.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.