Current and former state agriculture committee chairs are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue a statewide drought emergency declaration.

In a letter to the governor, the lawmakers argue that the state’s 5% water allocation “will weaken California’s food supply chain and endanger underserved communities.” The last time allocations were this low, former Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency, which provided “flexibility and commonsense streamlining to utilize our limited water in the most efficient way possible.”

The legislators argue that “all tools should be available to incentivize water conservation, minimizing red tape for water transfers, and allowing state agencies to modify certain reservoir release standards to allow for more water to go to communities.”

Interested in more coverage and insights? Receive a free month of Agri-Pulse West.

They also ask Newsom to allocate a portion of the state’s budget surplus as financial assistance to farmers, who are expected to lose more than $7 billion in annual revenue due to cuts to surface water and groundwater access.