Vilsack Tours California… an Answer in the Future?

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and California’s senior senator Dianne Feinstein promised farmers they would work towards a solution for the ever-growing water crisis that has hit California in recent years.
Vilsack toured the state on Wednesday listening to concerns from farmers, meat packers and other producers. These concerns ranged from trade tariffs to problems in the citrus industry. However, the biggest concern was California’s failing ecosystem.
California producers have faced a drought for the last three years. The restrictions on delta water deliveries, to protect native fish, have caused farmers to lose more than a quarter-million acres of land as well as left thousands of people without jobs.
“I understand these are serious issues with serious consequences,” Vilsack said. “I will tell the President it’s not just about California, but it’s about the country and the world.”
Feinstein began a water summit following Vilsack’s visit in Coalinga. Major growers from Sacramento Valley to Los Angeles made the journey to be heard.
“We are the largest agricultural state in the union and if agriculture can’t function here, it means more and more of our food will be brought in from other countries,” Feinstein said. “I think we need to stay out of the courts and sit down around the table … to find solutions.”
Recently there have been a number of legal battles over the slim water supply causuing reduced irrigation flows to the valley. Drought has resulted from the low level of rainfall, leaving delta and rivers for the soul purpose of housing native fish. For the past two years salmon season has been called off due to the drought as well.
Water managers are looking to take steps to prevent harm to the fish by presenting the “Two Gates Proposal.” Water management has $27 million available to finance a gate that would keep fish from being killed by the pumps.
During his tour, Vilsack said this problem may just be affecting California now, but it should be a wake up call for every other state.
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