Drought conditions are worsening, making it harder for farmers to irrigate crops.
All eyes have turned to Californian farmers as hundreds of thousands of acres turn fallow in a state responsible for a significant portion of US food supply while much of the Western US experiences a severe drought.
Unprecedented water supply reductions are putting many farmers’ ability to continue growing crops in jeopardy. Farmers are finding it more challenging to water crops as the drought conditions intensify.
Josue Medellin-Azuara, an associate professor at the University of California Merced, told Bloomberg that 800,000 acres of farmland could be left unworked this year, more than twice the amount from the previous year, as fields dry up and agricultural production declines.
California’s historic drought may leave the state with the largest amount of empty farmland in recent memory as farmers face unprecedented cuts to crucial water supplies https://t.co/3paxJIjdye
— Bloomberg Green (@climate) July 16, 2022
The full Colorado River system supplies water to 40 million people in seven western states as well as Mexico, and irrigates more than 5 million acres of farmland from Wyoming to the Gulf of California.https://t.co/4AzukYTuaf
— Mike Huck (@IrrTurfSvcs) July 19, 2022
It’s Idiocracy playing out in real life.https://t.co/7L00VpaVOW
— Cyprian (@cyprianous) July 19, 2022
According to Medellin-Azuara, the estimate is provisional while further research is being done on farms in California using satellite imaging. By the end of this month or the beginning of August, he expects official projections.
New water limitations have devastated farm productivity investments made over several years.
The Central Valley of California, which supplies more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts farmed in the US, contains a significant amount of fallow land.
On some roads near livestock auctions, cattle trailers are lined up as far as you can see. Ranchers are selling cattle because of drought-stricken pastures, a shortage of hay and lack of water.
Read more: https://t.co/sugXXQAnFA
Photos by Emory Livestock Auction, Inc. pic.twitter.com/IkXTjmENdH
— Texas Farm Bureau (@TexasFarmBureau) July 13, 2022
Meanwhile, farmers are seeing massive reductions in surface water rights due to low snowmelt and dwindling storage.
“What’s really concerning is for the first time we are fallowing at least 250,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley,” Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said in an interview.
“Those are the most senior water rights holders.”
Medellin-Azuara said the new water restrictions are a complicated issue.
Here’s what Bloomberg reported:
Last year, some California farmers were stunned to find their so-called senior water rights restricted, Water laws in the state are governed by a complex system that dates back to the Gold Rush era. Senior rights holders, which include companies, growers and cities with claims that were acquired before 1914, and landowners whose property borders a river — are the last to see their supplies curtailed.”
The most agriculturally productive area of California is converting to dust, which should worry every American. One-fourth of the country’s food is grown in California.
However, declining agricultural output is more worrisome information that shows food inflation is structural and won’t go away very soon.
Watch it here: Youtube/NBC News