The Water Education Foundation Announces Four New Board Members

New Water Education Board Members Includes Sixth Generation Valley Farmer

Jennifer Bowles,executive director of the Water Education Foundation Board of Directors, announced  four recently-elected members: Cannon Michael of Bowles Farming Company, Kim Delfino with Defenders of Wildlife, Jennifer Persike with the Association of California Water Agencies and Christopher Park with CDM Smith.

Elected in December, the four will join the rest of the Foundation’s board members at its next meeting in March. Their positions were effective Jan. 1, said Bowles, who is not related to Cannon Michael and his family’s farming operation.

“The staff and current board of the Water Education Foundation are happy to welcome new board members from diverse sectors of the water world,” said Bill Mills, president of the Foundation’s board of directors. “Our new board members will bring a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm, and we look forward to their input in shaping our bright future.”

The Foundation, an impartial, nonprofit organization, is governed by a volunteer board of 33 members representing a broad cross-section of water, education, business, environmental and public interest communities. Typically, they serve three-year terms. The Foundation’s mission is to create a better understanding of water resources and foster public understanding and resolution of water resource issues through facilitation, education and outreach.

Founded in 1977, the Foundation is a vital source of nonpartisan, in-depth information about water resource issues in California and the West. Taking a steady pulse of the water world, the Foundation provides a vast repertoire of educational materials, products and services such as tours of key water sites in California and Nevada, conferences, flagship bimonthly magazine, Western Water, and Project WET (Water Education for Teachers).

The new board members are:

Cannon Michael: A sixth-generation farmer, Michael is president of Bowles Farming Company headquartered in Los Banos, CA. He oversees an 11,000-acre farm where the company grows cotton, fresh market and processing tomatoes, field crops and other commodities.

Michael’s great-great-great-grandfather was Henry Miller, a German immigrant whose partnership with Charles Lux became known as Miller & Lux and resulted in the build-up of landholdings in the San Joaquin Valley to more than 1 million acres.

Kim Delfino: As the California Director of Defenders of Wildlife, Delfino develops and directs the organization’s work across the state, including determining policy and program work in wildlife, land use, water and energy issues.

She is a gubernatorial-appointed member of the California Water Commission and serves on various coalitions and planning efforts, including the California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment, Salton Sea Coalition, the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition and the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan Stakeholder Committee. Her policy expertise lies in state and federal endangered species, land use planning, water and other natural resource laws.

Jennifer Persike: As Deputy Executive Director for external affairs and operations at the Association of California Water Agencies, Persike oversees the association’s teams that work to advance ACWA’s image/brand, issues, policies and delivery of service to members. On the operations side, she oversees the association’s functions and activities related to finance, facilities, human resources, information technology, member services/events, communications and regional outreach

During her 25-year tenure at ACWA, Persike has held the positions of director of strategic coordination and public affairs, director of communications and outreach, director of communications and human resources, and manager of public affairs.

Christopher Park: Christopher Park, American Institute of Certified Planners’ certified, is a Water Resource Planner with CDM Smith in Sacramento.

Park has nine years of experience focusing on environmental impact assessment and permitting for both local and statewide water planning projects for clients that include the Bureau of Reclamation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Cambria Community Services District.

Park joins the Foundation’s Board of Directors as the representative from the William R. Gianelli Water Leaders Class, of which he was a member in 2014.

Food donations underscore drought impact

By Kate Campbell; Ag Alert

Central Valley farmers and businesses donated and shipped about 30 tons of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts last week to help address food shortages at California food banks. A newly organized grassroots coalition, “California Water Feeds Our Communities,” was joined by the California Community Food Bank, Westlands Water District, the California Water Alliance and El Agua Es Asunto De Todos to bring valley-grown produce to those in need across the state.

Fresno County farmer Bill Diedrich said the impact of fallowing hundreds of thousands of acres of irrigated cropland in the San Joaquin Valley this year translates into significant economic losses for the valley’s small farming communities.

“It’s the people—and the communities that depend on agricultural production—that are getting hurt,” Diedrich said at a news conference in Fresno to announce the donations. “For example, the schools are being hurt. If people are moving on, there’s no reimbursement for (school) attendance and the children of those families who’ve stayed are losing out. Besides the school districts, cities and counties also are being affected and their ability to help in this crisis is reduced.”

Diedrich said that when he drives through the valley’s small towns, he sees workers standing around idle, “because there’s so much fallowed ground there isn’t the normal demand for labor. We’re looking at a disaster and we’re hoping for regulatory relief,” noting that Congress will be considering drought-relief bills in coming weeks.

Kym Dildine with Fresno-based Community Food Bank said one in four people in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Kern and Tulare counties copes with food insecurity, a situation made worse by the ongoing drought.

Prior to the drought, she said the agency was serving about 220,000 people a month. With the drought, that number has increased by another 30,000 people a month in the five-county area.

“Every food bank we’ve spoken to is really grateful to be receiving an entire truckload of fresh produce grown right here in the valley,” she said. “Because less fruit is available, they’re having a harder time accessing it.”

To help address the problem, 15 trucks were loaded with boxes of fresh produce at Simonian Fruit Co. in Fowler before heading to food banks in Fresno, Merced, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Watsonville, Salinas, Santa Maria, Oxnard, Riverside and San Diego.

“The food we grow here extends far and wide,” said Gayle Holman of the Westlands Water District. “In fact, most people don’t even realize the food they may be eating in other parts of the state, or across the United States, actually originates here.”

The Fresno County Farm Bureau, along with many valley farms and businesses, supported the food donation effort, as did irrigation districts and service groups such as the Girl Scouts of Central California-South and the Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as California State University, Fresno.

Participants said the coalition hopes not only to bring attention to the impact of the drought and how far-reaching it is, but also to set the stage for future food donation drives as the crisis deepens during the winter. Diedrich said the effort also brings attention to the fact that an unreliable water supply jeopardizes everyone’s food security.

“The drought has impacted California’s food banks because they can no longer adapt to the spike in food prices resulting from a lack of water for farmers,” said Cannon Michael, president of Los Banos-based Bowles Farming Co. “This campaign has been launched to feed the needy and raise awareness about how the drought hurts the most vulnerable people in the state.”

Drought-related land fallowing brings “many unintended consequences,” Michael said.

“We hope raising awareness about the drought will bring all stakeholders together to find short- and long-term solutions,” he said.

Westside farmer Sarah Woolf said the coalition will continue to support food banks.

“This was just one small aspect of how we’re trying to help,” she said.

When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a zero water allocation for farm customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, Mendota Mayor Robert Silva said his community knew it was facing “a terrible situation.” But he said the city learned from the drought in 2009 and immediately began preparing.

“We got service agencies and utilities to come in and set up assistance programs right away,” Silva said. “We’ve added recreational opportunities for our youth to keep them busy and we’ve been finding ways to support our schools.”

In 2009, Silva said water shortages led to severe social problems such as domestic violence and higher school dropout rates that might have been eased with adequate social services. The unemployment rate in Mendota today is in the range of 35 percent, he said, compared to 50 percent at the same time in 2009.

“Unemployment is still high, but not as bad as we feared,” Silva said. “But we’re not out of danger yet. I understand it’s going to be a short growing season this year, harvest is nearly over, and that means more people will be unemployed for a longer time. We haven’t seen the worst yet.”

He said Mendota residents have been planning ahead and “trying to get the resources they’ll need to get by until they can go back to work next year,” and more agencies are prepared to help.

“But it’s going to be a long winter,” Silva said.

 

Central SJV Growers Frustrated Re: 100% Water Allocations in Northern California

Cannon Michael: There is a Complete Lack of Common Sense

Water Allocations Unfairly Distribute Suffering in the Central Valley

 

Feather River growers in Northern California have 100 percent water allocations and it’s very frustrating to Central Valley Farmers.

“True, it’s a drought year but there have been opportunities to get water south of the Delta that have been completely blown by mismanagement, over-regulation, a complete lack of common sense, and lack of understanding what the real needs are,” said Cannon Michael, a 6th generation California farmer in Merced County.

“The California Water Resources Control Board, and the Bureau of Reclamation have sent more than 1.8 million acre feet of water out the Golden Gate only for a possible need for fish. When you have such a dramatic need for humans, it’s just insanity; and at a some point, it all has to catch up with a lot of people,” said Michael, who has had to set aside 15 percent of his farm due to no water.

“The people who are regulating and the people who are legislating have insulation from this for a little while, but it eventually is going to catch them,” Michael said. “The problem for me is that these regulations hurt the poorest of the people and the minority community, who are already having a tough time.”

“These regulations and low water allocations are taking away valuable fresh food and milk, and all the things people need for life. It’s taking away jobs and will displace thousands of workers who will have to get in food lines to survive. And this is completely unnecessary,” said Michael.

“There could have been way more water allocations exported safely this year. There were no fish at the pumps and we have the data to prove it,” said Michael.

“We had good storms in February, March and April, but the majority of that water went out the Bay; it wasn’t even close,” said Michael.

“There are too many left-leaning decisions from the California Water Resources Control Board to the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco, which made a recent ruling that hurt agriculture, agreeing that the Bureau of Reclamation did not consider the safety of the Delta Smelt several years ago when it exporter water south. And then on top of everything, Governor Brown pulls the funding from ag education. It is a constant barrage against agriculture, and when will it ever be enough?” asked Michael.

“There is no respect for California agriculture. There are so many people spinning lies about our industry. Do they want all the specialty crops that they enjoy eating coming from other countries? Again, it’s insanity,” he said.

And Michael said the farmer is always, always held accountable while the environmental community is never held accountable. “There is no accounting for what they use the water allocation for when it’s released it to the ocean. There is no report on what good it’s doing. They are not at all held to the same standards as California Farmers.”

Cotton ELS Prices Good, While Upland Cotton is Bleak

Upland Cotton Prices Down; Extra Long Staple Types Are Up

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

 

Upland cotton prices are still bleak, falling 10 cents per pound over the last month, and are now in the .85 to .95 cents a pound range. However, there is a glimmer of good prices ahead for extra long staple (ELS) cottons on the open market.
Many growers forward contracted the just-harvested crop that might have returned a decent price, but the Pima and other ELS types are still holding a good price,” said Cannon Michael, V.P. Bowles Farming Co., in Los Banos Calif., who farms more than 11,000 acres of row and field crops, including cotton throughout Merced County.
“I know some guys that have booked some pricing of ELS for 2014 at $1.60 to $1.70, but that’s a market that operates in a different world,” said Michael. “There has been good demand, the world crop is down, and California does not have that much Pima this year due to an overall decline in cotton acreage.”
In 2013 California growers planted 90,000 acres of Upland cotton, down 37 percent from last year. ELS plantings in the West declined nearly 14 percent to 206,000 acres with largest decline -35,000 acres in California.
“There is more optimism on the ELS side due to higher prices,” said Michael. “But there is so much pressure on Upland cotton as far as what China and other areas of world can grow, so the prices are on the depressed side.”
Michael noted that farmers in his area grow the Hazera type of ELS, an Israeli hybrid type which is not as strong as Pima, but has the staple length and other properties. “It performs like an Upland type in terms of yield in the north end of the Valley, but pays about 10 cents less than Pima.

“While the Hazera seed is more expensive and does not have any Roundup Ready traits,” Michael commented, “it has a better quality fiber that the mills are looking for right now.”