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Droughts Impact on CA Agriculture Industry

By Denise Valenzuela

Posted in

Will the water use restrictions impact the states agriculture industry?  While governor Jerry Brown insists that the agriculture industry will not be impacted by the recent legislation changes.  None of the recent legislation will directly impact the industry but the same cannot be said about the drought.  But some experts believe the drought will take a toll on the state’s agriculture industry and will get heavier – also U.S. consumers outside California may feel it, too, when they notice some supermarket favorites seem less plentiful.  Less supply with equal demand means increased prices for the average Joe. About half of the fresh produce consumed in the U.S. and one-third of the nation’s organic produce is grown in the state’s fertile Central Valley.

About 1 million acres are now idle due to the drought, according to the University of California-Davis.  Retail price spikes are unlikely because of the drought, however. Only a small portion of what shoppers pay is based on what farmers get for their crops — shipping, handling, packaging and marketing expenses are collectively bigger. Plus, food prices are often set on a global scale of supply and demand, so in a vast world marketplace.

Already, 17,000 jobs have been lost in the Central Valley, says Steve Lyle of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. California employed 348,900 people in agriculture in 2013.  The major part of one of America’s most productive farming regions could run out of all water and be unable to farm in the next number of years. That’s what the future looks like, which is why people are so scared.

Researchers are still calculating this year’s potential impact. The economic hit to the state in 2015 could be $3 billion, compared with $2 billion last year, says an agriculture and resource economics expert at the University of California-Davis.  He estimates that another 20,000 jobs could be lost, including in agriculture and food production.

 

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