California Rep. Jim Costa says his state needs short-term funding and long-term investments to support farmers struggling with drought.

In an appearance on Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, the House Agriculture Committee Democrat said Congress has provided resources in last year’s American Rescue Plan and the recent bipartisan infrastructure package, but more needs to be done. "We have a broken water system," he said. 

“We need short-term funding to deal with immediate impacts of the drought in the [Central] Valley, which is taking place last year and this year,” Costa said. “Then we need long-term investments to provide additional storage, additional groundwater recharge, and to make sure that our water conveyance facilities are capable of moving water from where we have it to where we don't. That’s balancing our water needs for agriculture and California, for urban needs, and for the environment.”

The Almond Alliance of California is another organization dealing with water shortage issues. President Aubrey Bettencourt said she has heard the current drought described as the worst of the millennium. 

She said the West's water levels have reached "deadpool," meaning the water levels in the reservoirs are so low, the system's pumping mechanisms cannot move the water out. 

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“There really is no water,” Bettencourt said. “In a drought scenario, it's about survival, and what is the plan for when it rains. That really has become our focus at the Almond Alliance, working not only with our state partners who operate half of the system, but also our federal partners who operate the other half of the system. It now is about recovery and resilience in the long term.”

Newsmakers panelists also included Paul Bleiberg of the National Milk Producers Federation and Ethan Lane with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

To hear more from Costa and panelists about the drought and other subjects, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposal to require public companies to report their progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the future of cattle market reform bills in Congress, watch this week’s episode of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers

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