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Gavin Newsom criticized California’s handling of drought as farms languish

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Gov. Gavin Newsom has mishandled California’s severe, long-term drought during his tenure, while the state’s farms are facing declining yields, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News.

“I think Gavin Newsom has failed on the water front,” said McCarthy, who represents a district in California’s Central Valley.

For the second time in nine years, California is experiencing a generational drought — a drought so severe it’s usually thought to happen only once in a generation, according to Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the California State Water Resources Control Board for the water. rights. The Golden State has also experienced a major drought – one lasting more than 20 years – since 2000, Ekdahl said.

“I think the state has really done remarkably well planning and preparing and implementing for the drought,” Ekdahl told Fox News.


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said California Gov. Gavin Newsom mishandled the drought in his state.
(Fox News Digital/Jon Michael Raasch)

Regardless, farmers’ returns and, as a result, their businesses suffer, said Sam Parnagian, a third-generation farmer in California’s Central Valley. More than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts are grown in California, according to the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

“You’re going to see tens of thousands of acres that used to have tree nuts, almonds, peanuts and they’re just bare,” Parnayan told Fox News. “It’s just dust.”

California saw brief drought relief in 2019, just months after Newsom took office, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Drought Center. But by 2021, the state is once again plunged into severe, widespread drought – and it could get worse.

“There is a very real prospect of a fourth year and possibly a fifth year of drought,” Ekdahl told Fox News.

Newsom, a Democrat, had to use the dry spell to prepare, McCarthy said.

“You’re going to have to store it in the abundant years to have it for future years when it comes to drought,” McCarthy, a Republican, told Fox News. “That would show you good management.”

McCarthy’s district includes part of Kern County, 70 percent of which is classified as experiencing “extreme” drought conditions, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Extreme drought, the most severe and destructive type of drought, can lead to widespread wildlife death, the removal of orchards, increased fire potential and low crop yields, according to NOAA.


97 percent of California is experiencing severe to extreme drought, according to the US Drought Monitor
(US Drought Monitor)

Newsom described a 142 step plan in 2020 to make California more drought-resilient. It included long-term projects such as construction of new water storage, topographical surveys for new water sources and dam demolition.

Many of them have not been built, according to Progress Report published in January. Ekdahl said many of the water projects could take years to complete.

“They haven’t built any new water storage, any new dams,” McCarthy told Fox News. They keep letting the water go out into the ocean.”

Newsom’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

“The Governor worked with the Legislature to invest $8 billion to implement the strategies in Water Resilience Portfoliowhich focuses on diversifying our water supplies, improving ecosystems, improving infrastructure and ensuring California is better able to manage warmer and drier weather,” Newsom spokeswoman Erin Mellon said. he told the Los Angeles Times on July.


But others agreed with McCarthy.

“These days, the Newsom administration and the Legislature have done little more than engage in water-shaming,” wrote Steven Greenhut, director of the R Street Institute’s western region. the Orange County Register. “Where are the plans to enhance water storage capabilities?”

Newsom in 2021 asked Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15%, but in March 2022, use increased by 19%. The governor threatened to make the restrictions mandatory in response.

“There is no reason for Westerners to be ashamed of their water use, but there is reason to be ashamed of our officials for not doing their part to upgrade and build new water infrastructure,” Greenhut wrote, noting that Newsom should to use almost California. A $100 billion surplus to invest in water facilities. He also blamed former Gov. Jerry Brown for inaction during another drought suspension when he was in office.

US Drought Monitor map showing drought intensity levels across the western US
(US Drought Monitor)

But Newsom has also faced criticism for not imposing stricter restrictions.

“We know it’s an election year and Newsom doesn’t want to anger voters, but the failure to mandate mandatory water shutoffs in the midst of this crisis demonstrates a stunning lack of leadership,” the Mercury News and East Bay Times editorial boards. He wrote.


About 80 percent of California’s water use is for agriculture, according to the State Department of Water Resources.

“We are one of the most fertile soils in the entire world and we should use that to maximize our industry here in California and food for the world,” Parnagian told Fox News.

However, the drought has even limited farmers’ water use, thereby reducing their economic output, according to Ekdahl.

Some breeders were even forced to do so sell their cattlea move that could send beef prices soaring, FOX Business previously reported.

California Governor Gavin Newsom stands at the edge of depleted Lopez Lake near Arroyo Grande, California. (David Middlecamp/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP, File)
(David Middlecamp/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP, File)

“You’re seeing people start to farm the water that’s available,” Parnayan told Fox News. “And by doing that, we’re limited in the crops we can grow. We’re limited in the returns we can get.”

California rice growers are weighing imports from Japan and South Korea as domestic production has fallen sharply, S&P Global Commodity Insights reported.

Former California State Water Resources Control Board climate and conservation director Max Goberg also felt that Newsom mishandled water resilience. But Goberg, who said he left his seat because the governor was not aggressive enough on climate change, felt agriculture has been given preferential treatment.

A small stream runs through the dry, cracked earth of a former wetland near Tulelake, California. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard, File)
(AP Photo/Nathan Howard, File)


“There are millions of acres of almonds and grapes. It’s not sustainable,” Goberg said. he told the LA Times. “Everyone knows it’s not sustainable, just as everyone knows the amount of withdrawals from the shrinking Colorado River system is not sustainable.”

Meanwhile, only five of California’s 17 major reservoirs, which provide water for agricultural use, are above 50% capacity and eight are below 35%. according to the California Department of Water Resources.

“What we’ve been seeing for the last nine years or so, seven of the last nine years have been dry or extremely dry,” Ekdahl told Fox News. “That just puts long-term pressure on our reservoirs, on how we use water and the ecosystems and people that depend on it.”

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