Through this program, resource conservation districts, non-profit organizations, University of California, California State University campuses, California community colleges, and California and federally-recognized tribes are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in funding to provide technical assistance to California farmers.
California farmers who struggled to make it through record-breaking drought and heat in 2021 are bracing for another bad year, this time without any additional water from the state.
The state said it won’t give any water from the State Water Project to farmers unless drought conditions improve. That could mean even higher food prices at a time when consumers are struggling with an ongoing pandemic and inflation across the board.
As California experiences a second year of drought, with no end in sight, the effects on California’s largest-in-the-nation agricultural industry are profound and perhaps permanent.
State and federal water agencies have cut deliveries to some farmers to zero while others, thanks to water rights dating back more than a century, still have access to water.
LAKE MEAD, WHICH provides water for 25 million people in the American West, has shrunk to 36 percent of its capacity. One rural California community has run out of water entirely after its well broke in early June. Fields are sitting fallow, as farmers sell their water allotments instead of growing crops, putting the nation’s food supply in peril.
As the West withers under extreme drought, legislators in the US House of Representatives have introduced HR 4099, a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to create a program to fund $750 million worth of water recycling projects in the 17 western states through the year 2027.
California farmers and ranchers are preparing for a difficult growing season as the state faces drought conditions. The California Board of Food and Agriculture met on Tuesday to discuss ways to help farmers and ranchers, as well as to discuss the proposed $5.1 billion included in the governor’s budget to address drought challenges and water infrastructure. After back-to-back dry years, the state’s water supply is strained, forcing farmers like Joe Martinez in Solano County to figure out ways to get the most out of their water.
In wetter times, these feathery beds of asparagus would produce generations of tender green spears, reaching for the vast San Joaquin Valley sky.
On Monday they were disked into the dry dirt, their long lives cut short by unreliable and expensive water.
“It’s a really sad day,” said Fresno County’s Joe Del Bosque, who has destroyed 100 acres of organic asparagus so he can divert precious water to more valuable melons. “The water is so uncertain this year. We didn’t think we’d have enough to carry it through.”
With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves. Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity. Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought brings a flood of concern “Hundreds and thousands of acres that are not going to be planted,” said Del Bosque. Unlike past droughts, Del Bosque says this year is different.
San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities are facing different but equally daunting water challenges. For Valley farmers, the requirement to achieve groundwater sustainability in coming years has heightened interest in expanding water supplies to reduce the need to fallow irrigated farmland. For Southern California, falling demands since the early 2000s have reduced water stress during normal and wet years, but a warming climate makes future droughts a major concern.
The coronavirus pandemic has touched nearly every corner of California’s society and its economy — including the state’s nut farmers, who are blessed with a bounty of ripe fruit but cursed by plummeting demand for their product.