The California drought has caught the attention of the general public.

I surmise this because our church “small group” met last night and one of the guys asked me several questions about the drought. What will happen to the fruit this summer? Is desalination a possibility?

Of course, folks know I write for a produce publication and may be paying more attention to fruit and vegetable topics than the typical Joe because of that connection.

Still, I have to believe more and more consumers are aware of the California drought and are beginning to wonder what it will mean this summer. This coverage from The Mercury in California quotes experts who say this drought could be long-lived. Time magazine also tells how the drought could be much, much worse .

Other coverage talks about how the Republicans may want to cast the drought as a political ally in the fight to win election contests with California Democrats.

The California drought is also being injected into the farm bill at the 11th hour. From a news release that just sailed into my inbox today:

 Washington, D.C. – At the request of Speaker of the House John Boehner and California Congressmen David Valadao, Kevin McCarthy, and Devin Nunes, Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has presented a legislative fix in a bicameral conference committee to relieve the water crisis in the South Valley. The proposal, meant for inclusion in the Farm Bill that could pass Congress as early as this week, calls for two main actions:

· Turning on the Delta pumps this year and next year to capture future rain events.

· Ending restoration flows in the San Joaquin River for this year and next year in order to stop wasting water.

 In a joint statement, the three California representatives declared, “We’d like to thank Speaker Boehner and Chairman Lucas for their leadership and for acting quickly on this urgent issue. With more than 50,000 acre feet of water about to be flushed into the ocean, this is the last chance to make a difference for tens of thousands of Central Valley farmers and residents whose water supplies are running critically low. We urge California’s senators to support this language and cooperate with the House to get it passed into law as soon as possible.”

Probably the bottom line of what the public wants to know is this: what will the drought do to produce supply and prices?

The deficit in moisture may cost untold millions to growers, workers, marketers and retailers. Just how bad will it be?

Is the drought bound to be the biggest challenge in 2014? Check out the LinkedIn poll on that question here.