Opinion of the California Farm Bureau Federation and Nisei Farmers League

Twenty days from the election, Jerry Brown just remembered that water is important to Californians.

For a former governor of our state seeking the job again, it’s mind boggling to us that Jerry Brown has refused to take a position on the water bond and only now puts out a vague statement about his thoughts on water.

That is not leadership. That is political cowardice in the face of crisis.

Meg Whitman, in contrast, very early in her campaign showed herself to be a real leader on the issues that concern us most, jobs and water. More than a year ago, she laid out a comprehensive plan to rebuild our outdated water delivery system. On top of that, she showed courage by getting behind a controversial water bond early, and has pledged to campaign for it.

Meg is practical and has loads of common sense and she is determined to fix a system that is built for a population half our size. She acknowledges the water bond isn’t perfect, but status quo Sacramento politicians have dallied far too long and farmers and the ag industry are being left out to dry. She agrees with us that now is the time to act. Should the bond win voter approval, Meg has vowed to cut out any wasteful spending that does not provide a real fix to the crisis.

We are speechless that Jerry Brown, who has been running for governor for well over year, has barely uttered a word about our water crisis and at the eleventh hour throws up a wish list on his website, without offering a way to pay for major infrastructure improvements.

The so-called environment-friendly Brown only offers the vaguest outlines for improving the health of the Delta, a critical step in order to build new conveyance systems. Those systems and new storage facilities are necessary to supply a safe, affordable supply of water to the millions of Californians who rely on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system.

The future of our state without an up-to-date water system is doomed. More jobs will be lost, Central Valley communities will dry up and residents and businesses from Redding to Redondo Beach will face uncertain supplies and higher costs.

Meg has proven herself a quick and smart study on the critical water issues facing all of us. And she responds with more than just talk. She has a plan and is showing the leadership skills to finally solve this tremendous challenge.

Jerry Brown would rather hide from tough decisions and stick with the status quo.

For us, that simply is unacceptable.

The California Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest farm organization, represents more than 80,000 members throughout California. The Nisei Farmers League, which is based in Fresno, represents more than 1,000 growers and food processors, and their 90,000 employees, in several western states.