Posted May 28, 2014
The California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) applauded the U.S. Senate’s passage of bill to address water problems caused by the drought and urged Congress to begin negotiations to reconcile the bill with legislation passed earlier by the House of Representatives, according to an article on AgAlert by Christine Souza available here. AgWeb and SFGate also reported on the story here and here.
CFBF President Paul Wenger urged congressional leaders to promptly reconcile the newly passed Senate bill with the House bill that passed in February.
“Now, the real work begins,” Wenger said. “Water shortages are causing widespread suffering for California family farmers and those who depend on them for jobs and environmental stewardship. Now that each house has passed drought measures, we need to meld the two in ways that provide the swiftest, most effective relief possible.”
Wenger applauded Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her authorship of the Senate bill and Central Valley Reps. David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Jim Costa and Jeff Denham for their work on the House measure.
Feinstein described her Emergency Drought Relief Act as a short-term solution that would provide federal and state water agencies with additional flexibility to deliver water where it is most needed during the drought.
“My hope is that this process can proceed quickly and bypass many of the controversial issues that have been raised in the past,” Feinstein said. “While we do need long-term solutions to the state’s water problems, the bill the Senate passed authorizes immediate actions to help California, and I think that’s what we must focus on and reach agreement quickly.”
Farm Bureau and other organizations will monitor the upcoming negotiations closely, Wegner said.
“One reason the drought has hit California so hard is that we have failed for the past 30 years to modernize our water system,” he said. “California cannot afford another 20 or 30 years of inaction. Drought and water shortages hit farmers first and hardest, but they will cause losses that ricochet throughout the wider economy and the environment. Congress must act quickly to ease the pain by finalizing effective drought-relief legislation.”
Last week a preliminary report issued by the University of California, Davis, estimated that water shortages, caused by the drought, would result in the fallowing of 410,000 acres in the Central Valley.  This would lead to the loss of 14,500 jobs and an economic impact of $1.7 billion.


For background on the California drought, previous posts from this blog are available here and hereFor more information on water law, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.