By Valley Ag Voice Staff
The Annual California Economic Summit took place in Fresno on November 7th and 8th. The goal of the summit is to bring together individuals who are skilled in their respective fields of knowledge. These fields include everything from fishing and agriculture to state and local representatives. This year’s theme focused on regions rising together. The summit provides an avenue for others to connect and therefore bring ideas and problem solving together, as well as to look at what is going well for the state. The ideas and goals brought forth from the summit have helped form a template for the state.
One of the concurrent sessions that took place on the 7th covered the topics of ecosystem services, land use and groundwater, and San Joaquin Valley water sustainability. The latter was its first year being discussed, whereas the other two topics had been a part of previous summits, and many commented that the sessions have helped see beneficial change for the state.
Concerning the SJV water sustainability session, the group coordinator asked broad questions to get discussion going. The focus was on pinpointing what we can do to build trust with all the parties that care about water and its sustainability in the Valley. This was discussed knowing that although those in the Valley share similar issues, the issues may vary for each interest. The group concluded that education is necessary for the general population to understand the risks. In addition, the group looked at what kind of processes would be most constructive and valuable to discuss the tough issues and come up with ideas to build support across the region. A bit of the Water Blueprint was discussed, because, as many know, Executive Order N-19-10 is in effect where state agencies need to reduce their communities’ reliance on water from the Colorado River and Sacramento Delta and to increase water storage. It was also important to look at what key outcomes are needed for the Valley to flesh out the concept ensuring it covers all critical areas addressing sustainable water supply. Many concluded that its essential to form partnerships to ensure sustainability, mainly between the various regions partnering with the State. Basically, the group concluded with a principle lesson taught in kindergarten—work together. Bringing all these ideas to the table will eventually help to form a strategy to benefit the Valley.
One voice we heard from was Cannon Michael, president of Bowles Farming Company. He addressed the SJV water sustainability group stating: “The whole state relies on water, but we’re in a particularly precarious situation with SGMA’s groundwater challenge. We owe it to others to continue to work for these better solutions, and I think we can do it. I think agriculture is in a way better place than where we were in the past, and we realize how serious the gravity of this is.”
Among other leaders in the concurrent session, Congressman Jim Costa gave a few closing remarks on where we are as a state and the necessity to further actions to ensure security. “I want to keep as much land as possible in use because food is a national security issue,” he stated.
On the last day of the Summit, the keynote speaker was Governor Gavin Newsom. Despite the many issues Californians are currently facing including a dramatic rise in the homeless population and sharp increases in the cost of living, Governor Newsom spent his time at the economic summit Friday taking a victory lap. Pointing out California’s recent surplus and commitment to paying off long term debts as sign for hope in an ever-turbulent economy.