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Gov. Jerry Brown defends drought order that spares farmers

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown is defending his order of mandatory water cutbacks statewide that doesn’t restrict farmers.

Brown said in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that farmers have already been denied irrigation water from federal surface supplies, and they’ve had to leave hundreds of thousands of acres unplanted. As California endures a fourth year of drought, Brown this week ordered the restrictions of 25 percent statewide compared with water use in 2013.

Brown says California’s agricultural industry make up less than 2 percent of the state’s economy, but the state grows most of the country’s fruits and vegetables.

He says many farm workers are going without work.

Brown’s order comes as the mountain snowpack amounts to just 5 percent of historical average, the lowest in 65 years of record-keeping.

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