Californian Drought: What does it mean for farmers and for you?

06/05/2014 § 2 Comments

Kit Gambill, Campus Garden Coordinator

Image For the past three years, California has been suffering from a serious drought. In January, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the state, also laying the blame for the drought in part to climate change. The drought hasn’t only affected unessential sectors such as recreation, but has severely affected the drinking water of communities as well the access to vital irrigation sources for farmers.

According to the USDA, California ranks number one in the country for total agricultural production. California also produces half of all fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the US. However, many fields currently lay fallow and unproductive due to the present water crisis. According to the Reuters news agency, this could result in the loss of the jobs of nearly 14,500 full-time and seasonal farmworkers. Farmers themselves are suffering due to the loss of production as well as resorting to more expensive methods of irrigation.

Thus far the drought has yet to affect food prices in a drastic way. This is because farmers have been relying on backup water supplies from water aquifers, but these supplies are running low and will not last forever. Additionally, the drought has not affected all of the state in uniform severity. Farmers have still been able to produce enough to export to the rest of the US in a way that has kept prices stable. Despite this, consumers should expect food prices to rise as the drought continues and farmers’ groundwater supplies dwindle.

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