LaMalfa: Farmers Need Maximum Water Allocations to Ensure Stable Food Supply Chain

Apr 10, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, DC) — Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after sending a letter to President Donald Trump asking that he use his emergency powers to maximize water allocations to farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin, Sacramento Valley, and San Joaquin Valley. LaMalfa reiterates the importance of a domestically grown food supply as part of our national security. In order to alleviate temporary shortages due to hoarding and panic buying, limits on imports from foreign countries trying to feed their own citizens, and interruptions on farmers’ ability to use their acreage, maximizing water allocations to our farmers in the West will ensure the stability of our food supply chain during the coronavirus pandemic.

LaMalfa said: “The President has been a strong leader during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and the numbers show that his strategy to mitigate this virus are working. Despite this, some Americans continue to panic buy at the grocery store, fearful of the stability of our food supply chain. For similar reasons, foreign countries will likely limit their exports to America as they experience their own uncertainty and try to feed their people. The American farmer is the best solution to keeping food on the shelves in the United States. Yet Klamath Basin, Sacramento Valley, and San Joaquin Valley farmers are falling victim to environmental regulations and allocations that prevent them from receiving a rightful, ample water supply. Many crops have one planting window per year. Dithering on allocations during that timeline means those acres are not planted and that opportunity is lost. If fallowed from lack of water, they lose a full year’s production and employment as does the nation’s domestic food supply. If we want to keep America fed and supplied, and not rely on questionable quality and quantity of imported food, our farmers need the greatest possible water allocations to maximize production and national food security. Customers standing in long lines in markets, rationing short food supplies as billions of gallons of usable water escapes to the ocean is an insult to them and places people in unnecessary risk of harm.”

The full letter to President Trump can be found below.

President Donald J. Trump 
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW 
Washington, DC 20500 

RE: Emergency Water Allocations for West Coast Farmers to Enhance Agricultural Production 

President Trump: 

Thank you for the leadership you and your administration have shown throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As you well know, the American people are nervous about the future and the stability of our food supply chain. At no time since World War II has it been more important to maximize American farm production to ensure we have the domestic capability to feed our citizens and our allies in need. 

A domestically grown food supply is a necessary part of our national security. Today, Americans are facing temporary shortages due to panic buying and limits to the supply chain. Soon we will likely see significant reductions in agricultural imports as foreign countries, also facing COVID-19 uncertainty, try to ensure their own citizens have enough food. Considering the dangers our country faces in the coming weeks and months, we need to ensure our farmers, ranchers, agricultural workers, and support businesses are producing the needed amounts of quality food and fiber. The planting season doesn’t wait. Once the plans are in motion and crops are planted, there’s no making up for the lost opportunity of that crop year. 

As you know, the American farmer is innovative and can out-produce any other farmer in the world if allowed to use all the tools at their disposal. The problem here in the west, specifically critical food-producing regions of the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, and the Klamath Basin, is that environmental concerns and regulatory actions are artificially reducing the amount of water available to agricultural producers. Millions of acre feet of usable water are being sent to the Pacific Ocean, with dubious environmental results, instead of being utilized to strengthen and grow a safe and reliable domestic food supply. 

Your Presidential Proclamation emphasized our nation’s need for food security and the fundamental importance of domestic agriculture as a part of our national security. Therefore, I urge you to use your emergency powers to waive any and all roadblocks that prevent restoring the maximum water allocations to farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin, Sacramento Valley, and San Joaquin Valley. This is essential to produce the food and fiber needed by the American people, both here at home and serving overseas. Currently many areas will only receive a scant 15% of their historic water allocations, severely restricting production of a huge quantity of unique-to-California, high value crops. These crops will have to be replaced by lesser value imports, if even available. In the Klamath region, farmers are facing 30% or greater fallowing of agricultural lands. 

Nothing will further our country’s crisis like a lack of food on store shelves across our great country as we’ve seen with hoarding and panic buying. American farmers can and do feed our nation and help our strategic allies if they are allowed the water once again to produce. The major growing season in the Western U.S. is about to begin and you now have the power to ensure farmers are empowered to plant the maximum acreage. Hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland will be idled, due to misguided environmental requirements taking the water from these productive lands. This will only harm our economy these next months, and shake up the food supply chain all the way to our store shelves, interrupting our country’s amazing ability to produce. Your immediate action is needed. 

I ask that you direct the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of Commerce to waive any restrictions on granting 100% water allocations to farmers and water districts, along with waiving outdated Endangered Species Act requirements. 

Thank you for your time and attention to this desperate need in this crop year’s narrow window of time to enhance our nation’s food and economic security. 

Respectfully, 

DOUG LAMALFA 
Member of Congress 

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