What is in this article?:
- Over-regulation amazes south Plains farmers.
- Taxes and regulatory compliance cost California citrus growers $300 an acre more than it costs to produce a similar crop in Texas.
- About 85 million acre feet of water is available in California.
TEXAS COTTON growers Austin Harwell, left and Wade Klepac stand amazed at the quality of irrigated cotton grown by Terranova Ranch general manager Don Cameron, right. Across the road from the cotton stand is lettuce Terranova Ranch grows for seed production.
If there was one thing that struck a chord with a group of cotton growers from the southern Plains states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas touring California recently it was the incredible amount of regulations California farmers must deal with on a daily basis to produce food and fiber.
Hosted by the National Cotton Council, cotton growers from various regions of the United States are touring other cotton regions this summer to see what their peers are up to. Sponsored by Bayer CropScience through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, the Producer Information Exchange, or P.I.E. Program, is now in its 25th year of helping U.S. cotton producers maximize on-farm efficiency programs.
The California leg of the tour brought about a dozen growers and other industry participants to California’s San Joaquin Valley to view a variety of growing operations and hear from industry leaders on the state of agriculture in America’s leading farm state.
“This is just incredible what you all have to deal with out here,” said Susan Everett, a National Cotton Council of America member services representative based in Lubbock, Texas. “It blows my mind the regulations these guys have to deal with.”
For instance, visiting growers heard about California’s water woes and how farmers who depend on irrigation water from the California State Water Project receive a scant 20 percent of their promised allocation of water to produce crops. The result of that is no more evident than in the vast amount of fallow land tour participants saw along the western side of the San Joaquin Valley.
“Farmers in Texas wouldn’t tolerate this,” said Donald Kirksey, a cotton grower from Lorenzo, Texas.
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Ironically, the dryland farmers of the southern Plains were nonetheless amazed at the vast amount of irrigation water that appears available to California growers through the State Water Project and other means.
Earl Williams, president and chief executive officer for the Fresno, Calif.-based California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA), told P.I.E. participants that California agriculture’s issue isn’t a lack of rain and snow: about 85 million acre feet of water is available in California. Much of the water that falls on California winds up flowing out to sea through the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Delta rather than being captured and used to irrigate crops, restore ancient rivers, promote environmental restoration and provide for a variety of recreational uses.