Drought Has Big Impacts on California Agriculture

IN SUMMARY: California’s serious and prolonged drought is having serious and prolonged impacts on California’s agricultural industry, the nation’s largest.

As California experiences a second year of drought, with no end in sight, the effects on California’s largest-in-the-nation agricultural industry are profound and perhaps permanent.

State and federal water agencies have cut deliveries to some farmers to zero while others, thanks to water rights dating back more than a century, still have access to water.

Farmers are reacting to shortages in three, often intertwined ways — suspending cultivation of some fields or ripping up orchards for lack of water, drilling new wells to tap into diminishing aquifers, and buying water from those who have it.

All three have major economic impacts. They are driving some farmers, particularly small family operations, out of business altogether, accelerating the shift to large-scale agribusiness corporations with the financial resources to cope, changing the kinds of crops that can be profitably grown, and supercharging the semi-secretive market for buying and selling water.

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By happenstance, all of these trends are occurring just as the state begins to implement a 2014 law aimed at limiting the amount of water that farmers can pump from underground aquifers.

A couple weeks ago, the state Department of Water Resources announced that it had rejected as inadequate the underground water management plans of four San Joaquin Valley agencies, including the huge Westlands Water District, indicating that the state will be aggressive in enforcing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

“We’re not going to accept a plan to do a plan,” Paul Gosselin, deputy director for the California Department of Water Resources, Sustainable Groundwater Management Office, told the Sacramento Bee. “We’re looking for very concrete, measurable changes to address these deficiencies.”

If anything, however, farmers are drilling more wells to cope with the current drought, the Bee also reported.

“I could work seven days a week if I wanted to,” Fresno County well driller Wesley Harmon told the Bee. “In my area, everybody’s pumping. You can’t blame the farmers. They’re trying to make a living, they’re trying to grow food for everybody.”

The drought is obviously one motive for drilling hundreds of new wells that must go ever-deeper as the water tables drop from overpumping, sometimes leading to the collapse of land above. But another is that farmers know a crackdown is coming and are doing what they can before it arrives.

The Public Policy Institute of California has estimated that full implementation of the groundwater sustainability act could force 750,000 acres of California farmland out of production, or “fallowed.”

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters.org

Comments

  1. But wait the voters gave Brown and now Newsom more than enough tax dollars to expand and repair dams throughout the state.

    Where is that expanded capacity?

    There isn’t any. Why? Because the radicalized Democrats refused to do what the voters wanted and the voters are too stupid not to vote them out of office.

    You have to give the idiot Dem’s credit they are consistent, they refuse rational forest management creating massive forest fires, they refuse to have dams to help fight the fires, and they continue to hammer the energy sector making it impossible to fuel trucks and aircraft.

    Look in the mirror if you voted Democrat at any time in the past 2 decades you really are that stupid.

  2. Thanks Really???, I couldn’t have said it better, myself!

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