When Governor Brown visited the World Ag Expo, there wasn’t time to say much to the throng of media who chased him around Median Street like a pack of hounds in pursuit of a fox. Arriving an hour late, Brown’s entourage had already been rerouted to land in Fresno because of fog at Visalia Municipal Airport, then further delayed in long lines of traffic waiting to get in the gates on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
Likened to “Daniel in the Lion’s Den” by one expo official, when Brown finally answered one of dozens of questions being hurled his way, he had this to say: “This is a drought of biblical proportions… we have to have rain, we have to have storage and use the water efficiently… there will be droughts and plagues, and we have to learn how to live with them,” Gov. Brown said. “I’m here to build partnerships and help balance all the interests.”
Gov. Brown departed as suddenly as he had appeared, and it was business as usual at the 47th annual World Ag Expo, now billed as the largest annual agricultural exposition on the planet. No one seems to know for certain what criteria is used for that lofty claim but it could easily be the fact that World Ag Expo includes a plot of land large enough for 45 football fields.
It could also be that more than 100,000 paid admissions are tallied for the three-day event, or maybe it’s the 1,500 exhibitors. The 2014 Expo featured exhibitors from 46 states and 18 countries.
And here’s a fun fact. More than 790 dozen doughnuts were consumed, and that’s just by the volunteers.
It’s a farmer’s amusement park with carnival atmosphere out there on 260 acres of show grounds where those who are serious about farming can get down to business. In this year’s show, the most engaged booths were the ones that dealt with water.
Irrigation drip systems, soil sensors that tell when and what to water, crops that use less water, new pumping technology, alternative energy sources to efficiently pump out groundwater, water recycling and storage systems, water testing and delivery applications… in other words all the latest products to help the farmer and the rancher to get through these times of drought.
One booth depicted a rancher sitting on a fence orchestrating the production of his entire spread with his iPad.
“That was the future and but the future is now,” said one of the booth’s attendants trying to attract a few more folks to stop and listen to what the company has to offer.
Livestock and dairy farmers had their usual pavilion and acres of display space too. Several seminars were devoted to irrigation techniques, how to breed higher quality stock, improve forage, and how to turn manure into diesel fuel. One seminar coached ranchers and farmers how to deal with negative publicity through social media.
Thursday’s Water Forum held in the SCE Education Center adjacent to the expo grounds from 12:30 to 3 p.m. attracted lots of attention and a host of civic officials, all facing the prospect of water shortages. The forum was emceed by Rich Rodriguez, KMPH news anchor.
“The only way we can solve the problem is to create more storage and divert Delta water to Central Valley farmers,” Rodriguez said. “The feds prefer to throw money in the form of relief programs at all those who are hurt by the shortages. That won’t help solve the problem.”