Calif. ag is an example of tax and water issues
“So our surveillance has been reduced dramatically, and from when the APHIS inspectors were absorbed into Homeland Security and during the first two or three years at airports and ports of entry, those programs were not running very well. We feel that some of the infestations we are finding today are the result of things slipping through. You don’t know what has slipped through until several pest generations later. We have extensive trapping in the state, but my biggest fear is that people don’t feel it hard right now because it is in the surveillance. The rapid response system that has always been there isn’t there now.
Ross also spoke to the water issue in California, which is becoming more of an issue throughout the U.S. and the world. Water is the issue for the 21st century, no matter the type of agricultural production, she said.
“The availability and quality of water are huge, huge issues. So, it is in the best interest of all of us to figure out the most efficient use of water. I think the renewed understanding of local food security and how that plays into civil unrest and all the issues that we have seen in recent years will put more attention on water, how we use it and making sure that we have water available to grow food because of the fast growing global population. Two hundred twenty thousand new mouths added to the global population every day rapidly gets us a 9 billion population,” Ross noted.
“Here in Calif. we have a couple issues. One is the extreme population growth that we’ve had. We’re number one as the most productive agricultural state and number one most populous state, and we have all these urban centers,” she said.
“Our farmgate value is right at $38 billion and our population is right at 38 million. We were originally projected to be at 40 million people, but the slowdown in the economy has stopped some of the relocation of people to California, and most of our growth is now coming from new births, which is an unusual trend for us compared to the last 20 years.
“We’ve had competition from urban centers, but the most significant change in the last decade in particular has been some of the court decisions around endangered species and water flow issues. That has taken water out of the equation so that it isn’t available to move and give us some flexibility. It is a hard number, and that loss of flexibility has prevented water, even in better years, from going to the Central Valley, unless we have surplus rainfall and snow pack. Two years ago we did. This past winter not so much, but because last year was such a robust year we filled our storage,” she said.
Ross summed up the water issue with one final statement. “Our problem is that we get ample moisture, but it all happens north of here (Sacramento) and it is all needed south of here. So, 25 million people in the Los Angeles basin are dependent on water, and we have all that farming dependent on water, that is the challenge of California water.”