Terra Nova Ranch
Cameron is a first-generation grower with roots in Redding, Calif. who fished as a kid in the Sacramento River. Today, he manages about 25 crops grown across 7,000 acres of farmland in western Fresno County. …
For Cameron, the necessity of preserving aquifers should be considered in concert with the state’s abilities to produce food and fiber. For instance, he once looked at food produced on his farm and discovered that it could sustain the caloric needs of 200,000 people.
200,000peoplefed/7,000acres = 39,000,000hungryCalifornians/x acres
California needs 1.365M acres of farmland to meet its own caloric needs, by whatever means Mr. Cameron used to make his calculation. I don’t know whether that includes meat and dairy. Right now, we have 9M irrigated acres. Of those, about 1.5M are in tree nuts. Nearly 1M are in grapes for wine and the table. Almost 1M are in alfalfa for animal feed.
California can make whatever decisions it does about converting our rivers into additional money for billionaires, or into towns along Highway 99. But none of those decisions are based on food security for Californians. Every time CA ag makes the argument that it uses water to grow food, it is completely valid to point out that it uses Californian rivers to grow 6.5 times more food than Californians need, a third of it completely fucking frivolous.
When you hear that SGMA may cause farmers to idle 30% of their land, dropping irrigated acreage to 6M acres, you may rest easy. They will then be growing 4.5 times more food than Californians need.
“Food security” arguments are arguments against using as much water as we do to grow as much food as we do. A reasonable food security argument would designate 2M acres of land with good water reliability, designate the food it grows for Californians, and create supports and protections for that agricultural sector. Two to three million acres should be retired to restore groundwater balances. The agricultural State Water Project lands should be retired, so a small tunnel solution to the Delta is workable. And the remaining couple million acres should be farmed in normal to wet years.