CDFA’s Karen Ross: Water and Labor are Big Issues for California
October 19, 2017
CDFA Secretary Says State has High Water and Labor Standards
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, spoke to California Ag Today recently about the two big challenges regarding California agriculture.
“[The] two biggest challenges we have are labor and water. Some days, labor's number one and water's number two, but they're both always right up there,” she said.
Ross spoke at the recent California Citrus Conference in Visalia.
“I think for the future, water is very key to how we'll grow. I think it's important for people to think about how we farm in this state," she said. “We farm to extremely high environmental standards, and extremely high labor standards. Those are responsibilities that we have taken on. I certainly hope that people will continue to buy California to reward that kind of stewardship, because it comes with a price.”
Ross noted that investment is key with labor, automation and water.
“We just have to get through a couple of really big, challenging issues,” she explained. “Automation's going to definitely be more of our future, and as we invest in that automation, we have to make sure we're concurrently investing in the workforce skills development to go with it, because they will be different jobs.”
“When it comes to water, the renewed focus on how do we do intentional groundwater recharge as part of making the sustainable groundwater management actually work in our basins is going to be an exciting opportunity for us,” she said.