From the Environmental Defense Fund (Ann Hayden):
During times of water scarcity, like California’s recent drought, it’s tempting to take on a binary view of the world. This was definitely the case with agriculture, which appeared to be at odds with everyone: farms vs. fish, farm vs. cities, farms vs. regulators. As a dominant water user in the state, they were easy targets.
But when one digs deeper, it’s obvious that many in the agricultural community want to move beyond this debate and do things differently. Yes growing food and fiber takes water, but there are plenty of farmers laser-focused on improving efficiency, maximizing multi-benefit solutions and striking a balance between growing crops and preserving the environment.
I recently visited with Cannon Michael, president of Bowles Farming Company, which oversees an 11,000-acre farm near Los Banos in California’s San Joaquin Valley. He is the great, great, great grandson of Henry Miller, “the Cattle King of California,” so farming is in his blood. He has senior water rights, and while he still had to make difficult management decisions during the drought, he ended up with more water than many of his neighbors and found ways to share it, a tremendous display of collaboration in the farming community…
It’s important to remember that there are intelligent and motivated people on both sides. The environmental community brings a lot of information and expertise on habitat and riparian restoration. Farmers know how to get projects done, and they know the local context. So there’s a really great synergy happening between the two groups. At the end of the day, we all want a vibrant and healthy environment in California and a reliable and safe food supply.