With nearly 100 percent of the state considered to be in a severe drought, the California State Board of Food and Agriculture will host a drought forum on Tuesday to both unite and elicit comments from all farmers, ranchers and stakeholders throughout the state.
“Having the opportunity to hear from our state’s farmers, ranchers and farm workers provides perspective for all us,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. “With all the information and misinformation that has developed in the last several weeks, we need to keep in mind that all Californians are in this together.”
Prior to the opening of public comment session, the board will hear an update from Director Mark Ghilarducci, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and Bill Croyle, drought coordinator for the California Department of Water Resources, on drought response and current statewide water operations.
Currently, 92 percent of California is considered in ‘severe drought’ by the U.S. Drought Monitor, with more than 44 percent of the state experiencing ‘exceptional drought’ — the highest designation. Last year, more than 400,000 acres of farmland were fallowed and approximately 17,000 jobs were lost at a cost of more than $1.5 billion to the state’s economy. This year the ongoing drought will have a larger impact in the Central Valley and other communities of the state.
“This drought will have lasting impacts to cities, farms and the environment,” said Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. “Farmers and ranchers across the state have made significant strides in water conservation and efficiency, reducing overall water use and producing more food and fiber than ever before. These conservation and efficiency efforts are only even more critical in times of drought. We must ensure that we as farmers are making every drop of water count.”
The California State Board of Food and Agriculture advises the governor and the CDFA secretary on agricultural issues and consumer needs. The state board conducts forums that bring together local, state and federal government officials, agricultural representative and citizens to discuss current issues of concern to California agriculture.
The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday in the Industry Commerce Building at the Big Fresno Fair, 1121 S. Chance Ave. Members of the public, farmers and ranchers, as well as community stakeholders are encouraged to attend and provide comments.