Date: May 11, 2021

IRVINE, Calif. (May 11, 2021) – In response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s expansion of the emergency drought, Western Growers President & CEO Dave Puglia issued the following statement:

“Governor Newsom took a measured step in the right direction, but caution is needed in implementation of this proclamation. The declaration provides regulatory flexibility for water transfers to mitigate water shortages, and parallel executive action allocates $200 million to repair some damaged sections of key water delivery systems as proposed by Senator Hurtado’s Senate Bill 559. However, the emergency authority granted to the State Water Board to curtail water deliveries should give all water users pause.

“Water curtailments disproportionately impact rural and disadvantaged communities. During the last drought from 2014-2016, regulatory restrictions on water deliveries resulted in the fallowing of half a million acres of productive San Joaquin Valley farmland and cost farms nearly $4 billion in economic activity. With many South-of-Delta farmers slated to receive between zero and five percent of their water allocations, 2021 is shaping up to be another catastrophic year for rural farming communities in the Valley.

“In implementing the Governor’s proclamation, we urge state water officials to lead with voluntary transfers and curtailments, giving our smart and capable public and private water agencies the space they need to maximize limited water supplies and achieve balance between the environmental and economic needs of the state. Beyond the immediate crisis, state agencies must help mitigate the impacts of changing hydrology by removing the red tape that has long prevented meaningful investments in water storage infrastructure.”

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.

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