California’s agriculture industry helps feed the world. California grows more than 400 food and fiber products including a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts. In fact, 99.9 percent of our nation’s commodities, including peaches, artichokes, olives, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and so many others, are grown right here in the Golden State. Further, we lead the nation in the supply of 75 total foods, such as broccoli, mandarins, carrots, corn, strawberries and more.
Food security for families depends on the ability of California farmers to continue producing. Growing food successfully depends on countless risk factors, such as weather changes, water allocations, labor availability and trade stability.
Some of these factors are unpredictable, like when Mother Nature brings a late freeze, an extended heatwave or an early rain that results in unexpected crop losses. However, other factors are more predictable, like burdensome governmental policies and regulations imposed on farmers at the local, state and federal levels.
While the current federal administration has prioritized ensuring food security in the long run, state leadership, current and in the recent past, has continually attacked farmers. An attack on our farmers is an attack on our food supply.
These attacks come in many forms, such as the California Water Commission underfunding water infrastructure projects approved by voters when they passed 2014’s Proposition 1, or the state legislature passing unrealistic groundwater management standards.
There is also the imposing of stringent labor policies and wages that put other states and countries at a competitive advantage over California farmers. Overly strict labor policies have closed the doors of many small farms and businesses.
There is a strong contrast between the progress the federal administration is making, and the regressive actions of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration. Just weeks ago, we witnessed the president of the United States come to the San Joaquin Valley and keep his promise to fight for California farmers and ranchers.
President Donald Trump didn’t just make a promise to help; rather, he took action by signing new measures to restore a modest proportion of water to the valley, thus safeguarding food security for our nation.
This action, and this kept promise, are clear signs that the president understands food grows where water flows.
Like clockwork, within 24 hours, Gov. Newsom sued the federal government over these measures, despite the serious consequences this lawsuit would have. The new scientific opinions on which President Trump’s decision was based even included input from members of the governor’s own administration.
This lawsuit is far more important than being just a political symbol for Gov. Newsom — it has the ability to decimate the valley in a drought year, disrupt the American food supply and inhibit water from flowing to tens of millions of Californians.
California, and this governor, truly are blessed to have an abundance of freshly grown food available at our doorsteps. However, the actions the governor and his fellow Democrats in leadership continue to take put our home-grown food supply on the line. When times like these are tough, San Joaquin Valley farmers cannot simply pick up their land and leave the state — California’s Mediterranean climate and class one soil makes it one of just five prime regions for food production in the world.
We remain committed to working with the governor and his staff to solve this problem, but we cannot stay silent when his actions endanger our nation’s food security.
During his recent trip to Bakersfield, the governor declared that he recognizes our region is disproportionately affected by the decisions he makes in Sacramento and admitted, “we ought to own up to that.”
Well, governor, if your words are true, it is well past time you own up to the actions you have taken that put our food supply in jeopardy. Take positive actions to help our food producers — restore the balance of water to the valley, and defend the ability of California farmers to continue providing America’s food security. Don’t just talk about it, do it.
The food we pack for school lunches, place on the dinner table, or that provide nutritional balance and goodness to Californians is at risk. Let us move toward a California with enough water for people, food and the environment alike.
State Sen. Shannon Grove represents California’s 16th Senate District and is the Senate Republican Leader. Kristi Diener is a third generation San Joaquin Valley farmer and the founder of the California Water for Food and People Movement.