It is disingenuous when environmental groups resort to grossly misleading statements to advance their relentless case against farming in California. It is hard to fathom why there is such contempt for, and resentment against, the hard-working farm families and their employees who toil in the field to put safe, nutritious, and affordable food on all of our tables.
A recent opinion piece by an analyst from the Natural Resources Defense Council in the Sacramento Bee suggests that the agricultural community is “hobbled” by outdated systems, especially as it relates to water. It also suggests farmers aren’t doing their part to use water efficiently in the state. Both statements couldn’t be more uniformed and misleading.
Farmers and agricultural water suppliers have long been implementing state-of-the-art design, delivery and management practices to increase production efficiency and conserve water. These improvements include substantial investment in on-farm and system-wide water management enhancements. Consider the following:
- Farms use satellite weather information and forecasting systems to schedule irrigation.
- Growers employ evapotranspiration and soil moisture data to maximize efficiency.
- Water suppliers throughout the state have upgraded and automated their systems to enable accurate, flexible and reliable deliveries.
- Millions of acres have been converted to precision irrigation systems such as sprinkler, drip and micro-spray irrigation and more acres are converted each year.
- Mobile labs are used to conduct in-field evaluations of irrigation systems.
- Farms and water suppliers are increasingly utilizing geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) to improve overall farm water management.
Bottom-line: billions of dollars have already been invested, by growers and ag water suppliers to use water more efficiently and produce more food with less water. Billions more will be spent on irrigation technology and ongoing improvements.
Farmers clearly aren’t hobbled. To the contrary, they are doing their part to conserve water. More can always be, and will be, done. Unfortunately, what is hobbled is NRDC’s understanding of, and appreciation for, the hardworking farmers and farm workers who put food on our tables and the thousands of jobs the industry creates for otherwise economically challenged regions of the state.