Assemblymembers Robert Rivas of Hollister and Rudy Salas of Bakersfield introduced a bill Friday that would create a program for newly fallowed agricultural land.
As the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is implemented, experts estimate as much as one million acres of farmland will be fallowed in the San Joaquin Valley alone due to the loss of irrigated water. The proposed pilot program would support repurposing those lands for groundwater recharge, cattle grazing and ecological restoration projects.
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“If we don’t take action, farmland will be taken out of production in a patchwork that will create hotspots of invasive pests, weeds and dust,” said Rivas.
The bill has the support of the Environmental Defense Fund, which has played an active role in on-farm conservation and water trading projects in the Central Valley.