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California Agriculture And Water Use

President's Message

Friday, November 20th 2009

CFFA President,

Welcome to the California Fresh Fruit Association’s website. We hope you find the information here valuable and we encourage you to contact us with any suggestions or questions.

Welcome to the California Grape and Tree Fruit League’s website. We hope you find the information here valuable and we encourage you to contact us with suggestions on how to make it even better. With the recent passage of a series of bills related to California’s water future, for this week’s message here are some thoughts in regard to how agriculture deals with the needs to be efficient with its water use.

California farmers produce approximately 400 different commercial crops on an annual basis that are worth between $37 and $38 billion of raw product value. These growers are able to accomplish this amazing feat in spite of the fact that much of California could technically be classified as a desert and the reality that the state has not invested in major above ground water storage facility projects or conveyance systems for decades. And at a time when water is getting more scarce and costing up to $400 an acre foot in some regions, how are they able to continue to feed the state, nation and world?

The answer is that farmers in California utilize advancements in technology to use water more effectively and efficiently. Efficiency has been increased through various practices including: improved plant varieties, laser guided leveling of land, water recycling programs and other advancements like drip irrigation. Likewise, water conservation has been an important goal for California water users. Farmers and farm water districts have long practiced water use efficiency programs that result in conservation. The decision to adopt water use efficiency practices is based on local factors relating to soil, climate, cropping patterns, finances and other factors. What is beneficial and works for one farmer or water district may not be suitable for others as there is no single agricultural practice that results in the same savings when employed in different areas of the state. Hence, it is important to recognize this very important fact when considering the potential for increased water use efficiency.

And what about the common claim that agriculture consumes 80 percent of the state’s water? In fact, according to the California Department of Water Resources, the state’s developed water supply is 78 million acre-feet. Of that, 46 percent is used by the environment, 43 percent is used on farms and 11 percent is used in homes and businesses. The reality is that California farmers use that 43 percent to provide the food products that consumers want and demand, and they do so in the most efficient manner possible. They have to, because in order to be truly sustainable, which we define as being environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable, there simply is no other choice. So when you hear of concerns about how agriculture uses its water supply, rest assured that California farmers are doing all they can on behalf of the environment and their consumers.

Thank you for visiting our site and we sincerely hope that you will visit again soon.