September 22, 2008

James E. O’Banion
Chairman
San Joaquin River Water Authority
P.O. Box 2115
541 H Street
Los Banos, CA 93635

Dear Mr. O’Banion,

Thank you for your letter of September 15th. It is unfortunate to realize that you are unable to see the disaster heading for the agricultural sector and that you are unwilling to consider reasonable steps to avoid it. We believe a strong agricultural sector is critical for California – indeed it was the fundamental premise of our study. But the “business as usual” thinking you represent in your letter, and pretending that nothing is, or should be changing, is going to lead to disaster.

It seems as though you failed to understand the fundamental premise of our study. Let me put it simply as a question to you: Do you believe California agriculture will have more water in the future? [Not should, but will?] If so, we do have a real disagreement. Independent of what we might want, we believe it very likely that there will continue to be constraints on water for all users. If this is the case, then what do we do?

There are two choices: ignore the ongoing reductions and let them randomly destroy farms and communities, or plan for how the agricultural sector is going to manage changes in water availability and reliability and improve production with the water that is available. We prefer the second approach, and our analysis looks at precisely that: how to grow more food with less water.

Some growers in California have already made enormous progress in growing more food with less water. Their experience and expertise are critical for helping the agricultural community as a whole. That was the purpose of the four scenarios we explored – all of which draw on experience from smart farmers statewide. […]

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