Williams said the problem lies in California’s political climate and that the politicians who run the state are beholden to environmental and urban interests that don’t care about the needs of farmers to irrigate the estimated 300 commodities produced in California.

Also a hindrance to California farmers are the high taxes and costs related to regulatory compliance, Williams said. He cited a study comparing the cost to produce citrus in California versus Texas. According to the study, taxes and regulatory compliance cost California citrus growers $300 an acre more than it costs to produce a similar crop in Texas.

Once the major cash crop grown in California, cotton has seen a significant decrease in acres planted, even though whole cottonseed prices have continued to escalate

At one point California had 1.6 million acres of cotton and for 25 consecutive years cotton was grown on more than one million acres of farmland. By 2009, cotton acreage fell to 190,000 acres. Acreages increased the following year to 305,000 and last year cotton was produced on 366,000 acres of California farmland. About 65 percent of that is Pima.

Ginning operations have also seen a marked decline in California, according to the CCGGA, down from a high of 299 active gins in 1963 to 30 active gins today. Even so, ginning operations are doing well financially because of the heavy price commanded for whole cottonseed, a staple diet for dairy cows.

Williams told P.I.E. participants that California’s cotton industry and the infrastructure needed to support it can remain viable on 300,000 acres of production annually. It will be difficult to maintain if acreage falls below and consistently remains under 200,000.