Drought in California: Farmers Already Forced to Abandon Crops as Additional Water Restrictions Loom; Dave Puglia, Jared Plumlee, Ross Franson, and Joe Del Bosque Comment
IRVINE, CA - Western Growers has taken a unique step in the fight against widespread drought, with California seeing unprecedented challenges this year. The association is aiming to educate its fellow industry members, recently launching a series of videos called “No Water = No Crops,” in which three California farmers show the impacts across their own operations, as well as the cascading losses that result.
President and CEO Dave Puglia expressed the urgency of this issue in a recent press release, explaining that the regulatory uncertainty of water deliveries to farms is jeopardizing the future of agriculture in California, and threatens to change the state’s landscape in fundamental ways.
“Is that really what you want? Do you want a bunch of dust blowing through the center of the state interrupted by fields of solar panels, which don’t employ many people?” he said. “It is a question that needs to be posed to Californians, generally, and their political leaders. Is that what you want? Because that is the path you are on.”
Joe Del Bosque, CEO of Del Bosque Farms, made the difficult decision to sacrifice his asparagus field amidst drought-related challenges, which still had five years’ productivity left.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in a long time,” Del Bosque said. “Seventy people are going to lose their jobs here. Next year, there will be no harvest here. Those 70 people lose two months of work. It’s a very difficult hit for them.”
Another contributing farmer, Ross Franson, Vice President of Strategy at Woolf Farming, has started knocking down almond trees in the grower’s 400-acre orchard.
“Around this time of year, we’d normally be prepping for harvest,” Franson explained. “But due to the dire drought that’s going on in the state of California right now, we made the decision to pull these trees out simply because we didn’t have the water to irrigate them.”
Jared Plumlee, Vice President of Farming Operations at Booth Ranches, which produces citrus in Orange Cove, California, discussed how the company has had to destroy 70 acres of trees as a result of the drought.
“These trees are all dead, and they shouldn’t be,” said Plumlee. “It’s just a shame. This block had probably 20 years of productive life, and we were forced to push it out.”
To hear more from these farmers, please check out Western Growers’ new video series here.
AndNowUKnow will keep you informed as we follow the impacts of California’s ongoing drought.