October 22, 2019

Western Growers Statement on Revisions to Federal Biological Opinions

IRVINE, Calif. (October 22, 2019) – In response to the Trump Administration’s new plan that will guide the federal management of the Central Valley Project (CVP) in California, Western Growers President & CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:

“We are encouraged by the federal government’s willingness to expedite revisions of the biological opinions that have governed water project operations in much of California for the last decade. Those rules – intended to recover threatened and endangered fish populations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – have caused serious and lasting economic and social damage to hundreds of communities without producing the desired results.

“The proposed revisions introduce a refreshing new commitment to flexible management based on real-time data, allowing water deliveries when protected fish species are not in danger and restricting deliveries when they are. This is a common sense improvement over the status quo in which water managers’ hands are tied by inflexible calendar-based rules that ignore real-time changing conditions in the Delta. Other elements of the revised biological opinions similarly reflect the benefit of updated research and experience.

“Those who immediately condemn these revisions because they may help farm communities or cities are attempting to distract from the failure of the current regulatory regime. We suggest that protecting the status quo by any means is equivalent to consigning the endangered fish species to extinction while simultaneously extinguishing the economic future of thousands of communities. The status quo has failed; change, based on new research and practical experience, is desperately needed.

“The Newsom Administration has made thoughtful commitments to environmental protection and better water resource management through Voluntary Agreements between the State Water Board and the communities that depend on the watersheds of the Delta. It is imperative that this proposal be analyzed in the same thoughtful manner, that is, on its merits and as part of the larger Voluntary Agreement construct.”

About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. Some members also farm throughout the U.S. and in other countries so people have year-round access to nutritious food. For generations, we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.