Water cuts in California are devastating farms in the region, with thousands of acres of prime U.S. farmland literally turning to dust, according to reports.
While California is currently suffering a major drought, farmers and industry officials say the current water shortages are due to poor water management in the Democrat-controlled state.
The news is another severe blow to America’s struggling food supply chain as California’s Central Valley provides approximately one-quarter of the nation’s farm output.
The state, which is world-famous for its orange, almond, peach, apple, and olive trees, to name some, normally has a rich landscape at this time of year.
However, fields are dry and bare this year, with California’s harvest looking to be less bountiful.
“The size of fields intended for almonds, rice, wine grapes, and other crops left unworked could be around 800,000 acres, double the size of last year and the most in at least several decades, said Josue Medellin-Azuara, an associate professor at University of California Merced (UC Merced),” Bloomberg reports.
“Mile after mile of farmland reveals whithered crops next to fields of lush green plants, a testament to the tough decisions growers are forced to make on how much and what to produce, and whether to keep farming at all,” the outlet added.
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
California has roughly 9 million acres of irrigated land.
“What’s really concerning is for the first time we are fallowing at least 250,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley,” Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross told Bloomberg.
“Those are the most senior water rights holders.”
Bloomberg explains that this year’s sharp water cuts to farmers are due to critically low snowmelts and depleted water storage from last year.
Most of the state’s reservoirs are, on average, below half capacity, when traditionally this time of year they are closer to two-thirds full, The Los Angeles Times reports.
California’s largest reservoir, Lake Shasta, is at 38 percent capacity.
Meanwhile, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the country’s largest reservoirs, in neighboring Nevada and Utah, are at 27 percent and 26 percent respectively.
This level is, again, way below the approximately 60 percent they should be at this point in the summer.
These lakes hold a significant amount of the Colorado River, which is used in southern California.
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
California Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle’s district is in the northern part of the Golden State.
Dahle, who is currently running for governor, says the current water shortages are due to poor water management by state officials.
“The sad truth is that California has allowed trillions of gallons of precipitation to run into the Pacific Ocean during these last two years,” the farmer and businessman wrote in a piece in October.
“Now, water districts and cities throughout our state are beginning to implement mandatory water rationing measures.
“If it were managed properly, California receives enough rain and snow to serve its 40 million residents and 4 million acres of farmland for several years,” Dahle added.
He pointed out that Californians have voted multiple times since 1996 to upgrade their water infrastructure and improve their storage capacity.
However, the projects have remained tied up for years due to “woke” environmental impact studies and other regulatory roadblocks.
It's Idiocracy playing out in real life.https://t.co/7L00VpaVOW
— Cyprian (@cyprianous) July 19, 2022
Had even some of the proposals been greenlit, the state would be in a much better place.
“At one time in our history, California’s water system was state of the art and admired around the world,” Dahle wrote.
“It drove an economic engine that allowed our state to thrive and grow, bringing prosperity never before seen on earth.
“Sadly, the neglect shown over the last 40 years threatens to end this ‘Golden’ era.”
The news about California’s lower-than-normal farm production comes on top of stories out of Kansas and Texas about thousands of head of cattle dying or having to be slaughtered early due to drought conditions.
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
Americans are so used to having plentiful food supplies year after year.
But poor management, supply chain issues, and out-of-control inflation are adding to the pressures leading to food shortages.