President Donald Trump was in the San Joaquin Valley on Wednesday to tout water availability for farmers after his administration last fall published new biological opinions for fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that could bring more water to the valley's often-parched orchards and fields.
The president was joined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., other lawmakers and several farmers in an airport hangar in Bakersfield as he finalized an order intended to improve the delivery of Central Valley Project water to growers.
Trump told thousands of cheering supporters that area farmland will be "green and beautiful" as a result of the revision.
McCarthy's district includes Kern County, the top U.S. agricultural county by value. He said on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo" that the coronavisu outbreak shows the need to avoid having to depend on other countries for our food supply.
"We have a real conc in California because we send most of our water out to the ocean" in addition to sending some to Southern California and to farmland in the valley, McCarthy told Bartiromo.
"This president has worked greatly using science -- not based on politics but based on science -- to have more of that water stay with Californians and America to make sure we're secure in our food supply as we go forward," he said.
Bernhardt in the valley
Trump's appearance comes after U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was in the valley Tuesday to attend a water meeting hosted by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. Trump was in Los Angeles Tuesday night to meet with officials planning the 2028 summer Olympic Games.
The visits follow opinions from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will affect water operations in the Delta and were three years in the making, as federal officials sought to update analyses of Delta smelt and other impacted fish that were more than a decade old.
In response, California water regulators in November announced plans to use their own data to operate the State Water Project rather than rely on the new federal opinions. State officials have also vowed to sue the federal government over the new rules, arguing their conclusions are not scientifically adequate and fall short of protecting species and the state’s interests.
Bernhardt said in Tuesday's meeting the administration is prepared to defend the opinions in court.
The new opinions may also be tested by the weather, as most areas of California have fallen behind their normal precipitation totals for the water year and the U.S. Drought Monitor now shows the San Joaquin Valley in moderate drought.
For more in-depth coverage of Trump's visit and his order, check back at WesternFarmPress.com soon.