California Fresh Fruit Association President Ian LeMay Discusses California Drought and Food Supply Integrity
CALIFORNIA - Remember to advocate California grown. You do not need to tell me twice, especially after reading a recent contributor piece by California Fresh Fruit Association President Ian LeMay. You may or may not know, but California is the home state for AndNowUKnow, and Sacramento is where we reside. We have not only witnessed the drought, but have also felt its impact and watched that reality ripple through our fresh propduce industry. The reality of the situation is both revealing and alarming, and Ian speaks to what is at risk in this recent feature in industry publication Agri-Pulse.
“Governor Newsom’s recent emergency declaration confirms what California’s agriculture industry has known for months. Drought has returned to California, in what has become a recurring theme of growing food in our state,” Ian begins. “Farmers and ranchers accept the risks that come with their way of life and have fought hard to be productive in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the state. Agriculture continues to adapt to meet evolving challenges, and now more than ever consumers need to buy California grown produce.”
While California’s growers understand the importance of implementing sustainable practices that make their products, communities, and environment more resilient, we are still at the whim of a climate that has been working against our state’s agricultural operations in recent years.
“California’s farmers and ranchers face droughts on multiple fronts. A confluence of multiple pandemic-fueled market disruptions, combined with the third-driest year on record are depriving growers of the water, labor, and raw materials we need to protect the integrity of the food supply. The livelihoods of entire communities are at stake, and farmers are being forced to make decisions with consequences that will reverberate for years to come,” Ian writes, adding that the cost of shipping goods has more than tripled over the last year, according to the Freightos Baltic Index, which tracks global shipping costs.
Additionally, Ian shares in Agri-Pulse that the U.S. lumber shortage has driven up the price of pallets used to ship produce.
“Disruptions to traditional shipping lanes have created bottlenecks at major ports across the globe. Labor shortages have resulted in additional uncertainty and delays for the shippers responsible for moving California’s produce throughout the country and the world,” he reflects. “All of this is intensified because it is happening, for the first time, against the backdrop of the state’s landmark law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Fruit trees and vines represent decades-long commitments for growers who cannot make a decision each year about what to plant or not plant. Lacking any assurances that water will be available for irrigation this summer, farmers have already began sacrificing some of their fields to save others, leaving land fallowed, eliminating jobs, and threatening unprecedented consolidation that will ultimately leave consumers with fewer locally grown options in their supermarkets.”
So, with all these hurdles working against us, where do we turn to for solutions? For Ian and CFFA, consumers can do their part by keeping California on their plates and making California produce a regular part of their diets.
“By seeking out and purchasing products that are homegrown right here in the Golden State, folks can support the women and men who grow, harvest, and produce our food and directly contribute to local economies in areas that have been disproportionality impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ian expresses. “These communities are the bedrock of our state’s rural areas, and we cannot afford to allow them to languish in the face of these unprecedented challenges.”
There have been many years and many companies who have simply let the quality of our products speak for themselves, but we must begin to raise the battle cry—from the seed to the supply chain to the consumer and to the plate.
To read Ian’s article in full, please visit this link and let’s share the message together.