Agriculture Secretary Addresses CGA Board

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross addressed the CGA Board of Directors on Thursday, April 10, on the impact of California’s ongoing drought.

Secretary Ross said the state is going to have to make “some very hard decisions in this very serious time.”

Ron Fong, CGA President; Secretary Karen Ross; CGA Chair Joe Falvey, Unified Grocers, Inc.
Ron Fong, CGA President; Secretary Karen Ross; CGA Chair Joe Falvey, Unified Grocers, Inc.

She said California should look to countries like Australia to better understand the impact of long-term droughts, including the critical importance of water conservation. She said Australians, who have endured an ongoing drought for nearly two decades, would be shocked by California’s lack of sustained water conservation, saying “drought fatigue” coupled with some rain this past month has created a false sense of water security with many Californian’s abandoning their water conservation efforts. The latest monthly statewide water conservation numbers were at their lowest levels since the drought began.

In developing solutions to California’s drought and ever-growing water challenges, entities involved in water management and usage will need to better understand how it is used and the multiple benefits of every water molecule.

She told the Board there needs to be more cooperative agreements between groups with different water priorities, singling out the adversarial relationship between farmers and environmentalists. She called on California’s rich history of cooperation to help fuel the innovation needed to prepare and reduce the impact of future droughts.

Secretary Ross recognized the importance of the grocery industry, saying it is “a critical part of our food chain.” She said her department wants to partner with the grocery industry. She thanked grocery retailers involved in the state’s California Grown program and encouraged all retailers to participate.