From: Steve Fleischli, Sacramento Bee
President Barack Obama visits Fresno today to highlight federal efforts to confront California's epic drought, possibly our worst in 500 years.
Sitting in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno symbolizes the mounting stakes in this crisis - both for our state, where agriculture accounts for 80 percent of our freshwater consumption, and for the nation, which gets nearly half its fruit and vegetables from California.
Coalition response... According to leading irrigation researchers at the Center for Irrigation Technology and CSU Fresno, the actual amount of conservation potential from California agriculture is about 300,000 acre feet, or about 1 percent, not hundreds of billions of gallons as Steve contends. To get more water from farmers would require massive land fallowing, which has consequences for our food supply, jobs, economic stability and our quality of life.
Read the report here: http://www.californiawater.org/cwi/docs/CIT_AWU_REPORT_v2.pdf
From: Gerald Haslam, Sacramento Bee
Over a mirror in a beer bar in my hometown, Oildale, hung a sign: "We don't care how they do it in L.A." It revealed a truth in that little San Joaquin Valley hamlet, because folks really didn't care. Just north in Fresno, President Barack Obama will be entering a part of California today that plays by its own rules and expectations - Los Angeles and San Francisco (and maybe Sacramento) be damned.
The view in the state's midsection is that the coastal communities are mere ornaments. Local folks are tough, contrary and certainly self-serving, but also kind, generous and innovative in equal turns. They are not easily impressed.
Coalition response... Unemployment in the Valley is at its lowest when the water projects deliver the water they were built to deliver for the purpose stated in the Reclamation Act: To irrigate the arid lands of the West. People seem to have forgotten that over time.
From: Jennifer Medina, New York Times
Fields that in any other year would be filled with broccoli, melons and onions are instead dusty patches of dirt. Farmers are calculating losses that add up with each arid day. Thousands of farm workers who rely on paychecks for tending the fields are expected to go unemployed this year.
"It's as worse as I've ever seen it, I'll tell you that right now," said Bill Chandler, who runs a nearly 500-acre farm, growing raisin grapes, peaches and almonds.
From: David Castellon, Visalia Times-Delta
With water so heavily on the minds of California farmers and ranchers attending this week's 47th Annual World Ag Expo in Tulare, it seemed appropriate that one of Thursday's final events was a forum to discuss the state's drought.
A group of Valley farmers and leaders from some Valley communities lead off the event by stating how dire the outlook is if the drought - the worst ever recorded in the state - doesn't end soon.
President Barack Obama is bringing additional drought aid with him Friday, as he arrives in California's stricken San Joaquin Valley.
The new assistance includes sped-up livestock disaster assistance for California producers, provided under a newly signed farm bill, as well as targeted conservation assistance, watershed protection funds, additional summer feeding programs and emergency community water grants.
From: Staff, San Diego Union-Tribune
Hallelujah: The White House, House Republicans and Senate Democrats could finally act to help the water-starved farmers of California's Central Valley.
The galvanizing force is the state's severe drought. President Barack Obama arrives in Fresno on Friday for a firsthand look at farmers' misery.
When President Obama visits Fresno this afternoon to discuss California's historic drought, he will open the federal government's checkbook and make tens of millions of dollars in aid available to struggling farmers and communities.
Obama will unveil a $183 million aid package that includes money for ranchers in California who have lost livestock, communities that are running out of water and farmers that need help conserving scarce water resources.
From: Scott Smith, Redding Record-Searchlight
President Barack Obama will visit California's drought-stricken agricultural heartland Friday to meet with community leaders, farmers and others and to announce initiatives to help the Central Valley.
Obama is scheduled to meet with a round table of farmers, a group that has accused the federal government of putting rivers and fish above their crops and livelihoods.
From: Staff, San Jose Mercury News
Unless the president has found a way to issue an executive order to make it rain, the residents of Fresno are largely in for disappointment Friday when President Obama comes to town to discuss the drought. There are no easy answers.
The president doesn't favor California House Republicans' plan to destroy the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to give Central Valley farmers water for their crops. Nor should he. The better option for Obama is to back the proposal pushed by Senate Democrats to provide a limited amount of additional water to help Central Valley farmers through the crisis.