It’s the first time the state has been hit by a drought of its own.
But the first three months of this year have been particularly brutal.
With the drought continuing, a new report says California agriculture could face a prolonged and severe food shortage, with the state at risk of losing up to $30 billion worth of crop production in the coming years.
“The state has not produced as much in recent years,” says Matthew J. Richey, senior vice president for economic development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“There’s going to be a shortage of water and food.”
And with water shortages already at a record high, it could be even worse.
A key driver of California’s severe drought is a long-term trend called a “slowdown,” which has led to less water and less rainfall.
While the overall rate of rainfall has been falling for decades, the drought has caused water levels to fall and farmers have less water to plant, to grow crops, and to use for irrigation.
“California is the largest agricultural producer in the United States, and we’re now in the middle of a water crisis,” Richeys said.
The drought is not a new phenomenon, but it’s also not the first one.
In the 1970s, a drought wiped out millions of acres of farmland, causing water shortages that lasted for decades.
The last major drought in the U, in the mid-1990s, caused an estimated $40 billion in damage.
“We’ve been in a prolonged drought for 30 years,” Rachey said.
“So this is a huge blow to the economy.”
For California, the report says it is already at risk for a prolonged period of drought.
“Without a sustained drought, the economy will be in serious trouble,” said Mark Zukin, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. “And there’s no way we’re going to recover from this.”
It is estimated that the average annual loss in water for a typical family of three would be about $30,000, while the average loss in annual income would be $80,000.
California is also facing a massive food deficit, which is already the highest in the country.
The report also highlights the fact that California has a very high water demand.
It needs about 50 billion gallons of water a year to meet its needs, and that is projected to rise to 80 billion gallons in 2030.
With California’s water supply at about 75 percent of its demand, the state could be at risk to run out of water before the end of the century.
“This is a really big issue, because it’s not just California,” Zukinsaid.
“It’s the entire world.”
California’s drought has already impacted farmers across the state, including a massive drought in central California that has led many of the state’s farmers to pull out of the drought.
Zukini says California’s farmers will continue to be pushed to their limit because they don’t have enough water.
“A lot of farmers are just going to have to be very selective about what they grow, and I’m not sure how that’s going.
We’re going back to what we used to do,” Zuikin said.
While California’s agriculture has suffered, farmers have been able to take advantage of some of the help they’ve been given by other states.
New Jersey has become one of the most successful states in terms of cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions by shifting from gasoline to biofuels, and by using natural gas to power its power grid.
California’s dairy farmers have also been able use the state to push for carbon-free food, such as using drought-reliant dairy products.
“In California, we’ve had an abundance of drought-resistant products, and the state is a big market for them,” Rachia said.
With more than one-third of California in arid or semi-arid conditions, and California farmers still struggling to adapt to the drought, it’s important that California farmers continue to take actions that help them adapt to a situation that is so extreme, Richeesaid.
And, for the first-time in years, he says, the federal government has also been stepping up to help California farmers, with a drought relief package worth $7.6 billion.
That package is now the largest package of aid to California farmers in the history of the federal Department of Energy.
Racheysaid says the federal package is not the end.
“They’ve already done more than enough,” he said.
That means the state will continue pushing for more assistance from the federal level, and he says the drought situation will continue on its path of worsening.
“Every single day we get a new one, and it’s really hard for farmers to deal with,” he added.
“With all the things that are happening, it really is very difficult for the farmers to survive.”
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