California, one of the most populous states on the West Coast, continues to suffer serious and significant drought conditions. Amid growing concern over water resources, farmers in the state of California were recently informed they would be getting little, if any help, in the form of water relief, from the U.S. government. This has caused many experts to predict a drastic rise in commercial food prices in the coming months.
Farmers in California’s Central Valley, home of some of the best soil conditions for growing crops in the United States, now face difficult decisions in which crops to grow, or whether to consider growing crops at all. With a drastic reduction in supply, the demand for fresh produce will more than likely result in a sharp increase in commercial food prices, not only for Californians, but for the entire nation. Are you growing your own food to combat the potential increase in commercial food prices?
“Central Valley farmers took a crippling blow Friday when U.S. officials made the unprecedented announcement that they would get no irrigation water from the federal government this year because of the drought.
But growers in a region with the country’s most productive soil said the loss of one of their chief water supplies won’t be their problem alone: Consumers will be hit hard in the form of higher prices at the produce market.
California’s unusually dry weather is forcing producers of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains to make tough decisions about which crops to plant, and which ones not to plant due to a lack of water, leaving harvests that are likely to fall short of demand.
A recent estimate by an industry group, the California Farm Water Coalition, suggested that as much as 600,000 acres of land, or about 8 percent of the state’s total, could be left fallow in the coming year.
“Before, when people asked me whether prices would rise, I’d say no,” said Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. “But over the last two to three weeks, things have gotten so severe that it’s got to affect the market.”
While the announcement wasn’t unexpected, it was more bad news for an agricultural industry in California that is the nation’s most valuable, and is still reeling from last year’s low water allocations.
The state’s agricultural yield was estimated to be worth $44.7 billion in 2012.
In 2013, most Central Valley farmers who contract for federal irrigation water got just 20 percent of their normal water allowance. This year, their allocation is projected to be zero for the first time.
Growers will have to rely on local wells and stored water. Farmers in some parts of the state are in a better position to do this than others.
Officials at the State Water Project – which provides a lesser amount of irrigation water – said last month that they were also likely to provide nearly no water to farmers.”
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.