New research offers clarity on actual water use by agriculture

Recent scientific work by the California Bountiful Foundation, the 501(c)(3) science and research arm of the California Farm Bureau, has found that California farmers and ranchers use only 15 percent of the total water the state receives.

These findings, now available on the California Bountiful Foundation website under Research and Studies, offers a data-based analysis of water use of California agriculture, the largest food producing sector in the U.S. The data contradicts stereotypes often repeated on the share of water used for agriculture.

A policy brief and peer-reviewed scientific publications will follow to memorialize this work, said Dr. Amrith Gunasekara, director of science and research for the California Farm Bureau.

“We set out to understand how agriculture water is allocated, portrayed, and presented,” Gunasekara said. “What we found out is that commonly expressed beliefs over water use by farmers and ranchers are simply not supported by actual data on how much water California receives.”

The California Bountiful Foundation, in collaboration with the Governmental Affairs Division of the California Farm Bureau, has started to release policy briefs to educate policy makers and stakeholder groups.

“For an agricultural sector that leads the nation in food production and provides a diverse, nutritious, affordable and safe food supply, this data shows that California agriculture is highly efficient,” said California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson. “We are working hard to educate our policy makers to bring understanding to California’s critical agricultural food production.”

The California Farm Bureau works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 29,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of 5.3 million Farm Bureau members.