Kim Chipman | | Bloomberg
California’s worst drought is facing $3 billion in losses for growers in the top US farming state, just as growers brace for wider cuts in water supplies.
According to a study commissioned by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, between 2021 and 2022, growers will experience the driest on record in the state after leaving a total of 1.3 million acres of farmland uncultivated, compared to 2019. Crop income has decreased in the three years since It’s the most neglected area in recent memory, and its effects spill over into the food industry.
The Central Valley, which grows about a quarter of all US food, including 40% of all fruits and nuts, has bore the brunt of the losses so far. Agricultural areas in the southern part of the state depend on water from the shrinking Colorado River and are likely to see more fallow in 2023, according to Josue Medellín Azuala, a professor at the University of California, Merced who led the analysis. so the situation could get even worse.
“Strategic short-term land idling was the most common adaptation of cropping decisions during this drought,” the researchers said in their report. “Some crops such as rice and other field and grain crops showed widespread idling,” while beef and milk production “was lower than before.”
In 2022 alone, an estimated 752,000 acres of fallow land will represent nearly 10% of California’s irrigated land examined by researchers. Producers also faced extra energy costs due to the need to pump water. The survey is based on the “water” year, October through September.
California’s so-called advanced water rights are helping protect Colorado River dependent farmers from severe water disruptions.
But as the basin, which supplies water to 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, is battling a major drought, states have been ordered by the U.S. government to develop plans to conserve water. . Federal officials are also considering measures that would allow regulation to be mandated.
“There is pressure to cut,” Medellín Azuala said in a telephone interview. In Southern California and Arizona, looming agricultural water restrictions are of particular concern, as growing lettuce and other vegetables relies heavily on the entire country during the winter months.
Studies show that at least 70% of the irrigated land in the Colorado River Basin is used to grow livestock feed, and drought is already driving up prices for such crops.
The report’s findings were not all grim. The statewide economic impact on farm income has been “substantially mitigated” by measures such as increased groundwater pumping, crop switching, water trading and insurance payments.
—Researchers estimate first crop income losses of $1.3 billion in 2021 and $1.7 billion in 2022, with the Central Valley accounting for the largest share.
— vines and vegetables were the main sources of revenue loss.
— Shortages of crops such as tomatoes and rice hit food processors.
—Surface water supplies declined by nearly 43% in the Central Valley between 2021 and 2022.
—California collectively “lost more than a year of rainfall” in the 2020-2022 period.
— Temperatures will be 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average from 2020 to 2022, helping to reduce snow cover.
https://www.dailynews.com/2022/11/23/california-farms-face-3-billion-loss-from-historic-drought/ California farms face $3 billion in losses from historic drought – Daily News