Retailers, and, in turn, consumers, haven’t seen much effect from the drought in California this year.
Fresh fruit and vegetable supplies and prices are in a pretty normal range.
But that merely hides the problem. A recent report from the University of California-Davis says the drought will cost the state’s growers more than $800 million in lost crop revenue this year.
The total statewide economic costs are $2.2 billion, with losses to fruit and tree nuts estimated at $277 million and vegetables and non-tree fruit at $47 million. Well-water supplies continue to drop, while surface water prices are as much as 30 times higher than pre-crisis levels.
About 70% of the crop revenue losses are in the San Joaquin Valley, which will affect grapes, tree fruit and nuts.
Many growers predict enormous losses if 2015 has similar rainfall to 2014.
California growers have been warning of a water crisis for many years, and it seems it’s now here.
The state government’s response this summer has been threatening citizens with fines of $500 for lawn and car washing violations.
That’s small-time thinking.
California leadership wasted years concentrating on conservation and environmental issues instead of investing in reservoirs, wells and other water management options.
But it’s not too late.
If California wants to keep its title of top agriculture state, it needs to start finding water for agriculture right away.
If it keeps up with fines and conservation talk, those crops and jobs will move to other states and countries.
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