More than 1,000 frightened and frustrated residents – farmworkers, growers, tractor dealers, attorneys, allied industry leaders and the like – joined in one voice Wednesday evening at the International AgriCenter in Tulare, Calif., over the single-most important commodity to the San Joaquin Valley.
The lack of it for irrigating crops has ignited a growing concern that can be seen in the eyes of many. From the Terra Bella citrus grower who said he will likely lose his farming operation this year because he has no water for his trees, to the multi-generational farmworker who told the story of her grandfather refusing food in years past because he wanted his children and grandchildren to be able to eat what little they had, people are frightened. And rightly so.
A Kern County tractor dealer told the audience his business won’t be necessary if growers can’t obtain the water they need to produce and harvest the crops with the big machines he sells. It won’t just be his tractor dealership; others will go out of business as well, putting even more people out of work.
Indoor space for the rally was donated by the International AgriCenter, which also stands to lose if businesses that exhibit at the World Ag Expo every year are unable to remain open and rent space during the three-day agricultural exposition every February.