Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, world leaders across the globe have been concerned over looming food shortages. Ukraine has been dubbed the “breadbasket of Europe”; collectively, both country’s account for nearly 30% of global wheat exports and nearly 20% of corn exports. Unfortunately, both countries are also among the top fertilizer-producing countries. Without their fertilizer exports, coupled with the price increases of energy here in the U.S., input prices will increase followed by even higher food prices at the grocery store. Even crops getting planted could be curtailed due to availability.
With such a large percentage of our global food producers entangled in war, it would be wise for the largest agriculture-producing nation, the United States, to begin bolstering food and energy production, and exportation. Unfortunately, the exact opposite has happened. Many farmers in California, the top agriculture-producing state, won’t receive the water needed to grow food this year. Only last week, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that they would only be delivering 50,000 acre-feet of water to roughly 1,200 farmers from the Upper Klamath, a small fraction of what they're legally entitled to. This year's allocation is less than 15% of what the Klamath Project would receive during a typical irrigation season, and the second-lowest irrigation supply ever. The farmers own the stored water in Upper Klamath Lake, not the federal government. Over 340,000 acre-feet is stored there for the farmers’ use. Yet, the federal government is violating the Reclamation Act and taking the vast majority of the farmers' water for the federal government's Endangered Species Act and tribal obligations.
Farmers in the Klamath Basin can produce nearly half a million bushels of wheat a year, but only when they have water. I, along with Oregon Congressman Cliff Bentz, urged President Biden to release more water for the farmers in the Basin. Our national food security depends on it.
LaMalfa presentation to the Klamath Water Users Association
The Project was created to ensure farmers get their water. With Ukraine unable to produce crops at their usual levels due to Putin's unprovoked attacks, American farmers must step up. Without their water allocation, over 60,000 acres in the Klamath Basin will sit dry, produce prices will go up, food shortages will be commonplace, and people will go hungry.