California Gov. Jerry Brown defends drought order that doesn't limit farmers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Local growers are responding to criticism over their water usage, as Gov. Jerry Brown defends the agricultural community on national television. Brown spoke on ABC's "This Week" with Martha Raddatz following a new wave of water restrictions for Californians.

In a heated debate, Brown defended farmers of California and his decision to not restrict their water use, despite mandatory cutbacks for everyone else in the state.

"They're not watering their lawn or taking long showers; they're providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America," said Brown.

The order requires communities across the state to use 25 percent less water than 2013 levels, and if they don't, people could face mandatory fines.

"I can tell you from California, climate change is not a hoax; we're dealing with it and it's damn serious," said Brown.

But the governor's order didn't come without opposition. ABC's Martha Raddatz argued that farmers, who consume 80 percent of the state's water, aren't facing any constraints from the new cutbacks. Raddatz also asserted the farming industry only makes up 2 percent of the state's economy.

But Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League says the agriculture industry is the backbone of California that is struggling to evolve with the water crisis.

"We've got 53 small cities in the San Joaquin Valley under 25,000 people, and those people are losing their jobs," said Cunha.

Brown says it'll be up to local water districts to implement fines for the historic mandate.

In addition to water use restrictions in the home, the order also calls for cutbacks at campuses, golf courses and other large landscapes.

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