President Obama Coming to Fresno to Witness Drought and Possibly Offer Solutions
Ag leaders are hailing the planned Feb. 14 visit of President Barack Obama to Fresno to view the effect of the severe drought crisis facing the state.
Manuel Cunha, Jr., President of Nisei Farmers League, told California Ag Today, “I appreciate that he is coming.” Cunha credits the President’s visit to all the efforts of elected officials, their letters, and the governor’s emergency drought declaration, but he particularly praises the Water Rally in Sacramento held on January 16, 2014. Cunha said, “The rally grabbed the greatest amount of press and importance and included all of the cultures being impacted.” Cunha believes the President realizes that things have to change and that he needs to come here to the number one food chain in the world.
“I think it’s great that the President is visiting the Valley,” said Mario Santoyo, Executive Director of the California Latino Water Coalition and Assistant General Manager of the Friant Water Authority. “Over the past several years, there has been a great need to have the engagement of the federal government, and ultimately the buck stops at the President.” Santoyo anticipates that the national media covering the President’s visit will highlight how bad the situation is in the Valley.
“Hopefully he will have the opportunity to meet with city officials, farmers and, most importantly, see the impact on the West Side in terms of fallowed land and lost jobs,” Santoyo said. “We are anxious to participate with him in whatever form he would like.”
“I find it interesting that the President’s visit will be the day after the major drought discussion at the Word Ag Expo in Tulare. One person that I know will be part of the President’s agenda is the top federal official regarding water in the state, David Murillo, Mid-Pacific Regional Director of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. Murillo will be on our panel in Tulare—the day before the President visits.”
Santoyo thinks once the President visits the Valley, he will understand the tremendous impact of the current crisis, “and it will allow him to work with the Senate and the House in coming up with some legislation within the scope of the biological opinion and some of the Endangered Species Act Issues.”
Similarly, Cunha stated, “As President of the United States, he can make things happen by issuing a federal declaration which helps all of our communities; it helps the farmers and farmworkers, and it helps to get the food moving without asking if people are citizens or not. There are a lot of things we can do now, so we don’t have to have people leaving their homes and schools because there is no food.”