The holiday season is upon us and I want to extend three wishes to everyone: Good health, successful ventures, and reservoirs full of rain! Does one need more? Well…
I was recently at Blue Diamond Growers’ annual meeting in Sacramento and a most interesting discussion broke out among those seated at my table. The dialogue centered on how farming in general, and nut cultivation in particular, have vanished from the good graces of the general public and lawmakers and now our agrarian economy is seemingly considered the root of all problems, especially when the issue is water!
One of the attendees seated next to me then started citing a variety of statistical evidence that refuted the claim that farming is at fault for our water crisis. She later provided me these statistics in writing, including:
–Less than half of California’s water goes to farming—in fact, on average, agriculture accounts for about forty percent total. Fifty percent goes to environmental uses (including rivers, streams, wetlands and wildlife preserves) while ten percent goes to urban use, all of which are important.
–Even though the acreage of perennial crops in California, including almonds, increased during the 2000’s, the total of amount of water that went to farms held steady—so a shift in crops grown hasn’t meant more total water going to agriculture.
–In the last twenty years, almond growers have reduced the amount of water they use per pound of almonds by thirty-three percent.
–California farmers have steadily done more with less. Between 1967 and 2010, farm revenue in the state grew by more than eighty-eight percent while the total applied water-use to crops was reduced by twenty percent.
So maybe there is one more wish I want to put on my list this year—a true appreciation for farming. I’m not talking about a slap on the back from kindred spirits but both an understanding and value placed on a farmer’s hard work and stewardship of resources by the population at large and our governing bodies alike. We can all agree that there are great challenges in terms of water in both Madera County and California. The facts as listed above show that farmers know how to solve water problems. Let those that don’t farm quit pointing fingers at us and instead join with the farming community to solve our water challenges.
‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’ to one and all!