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Thousands of Acres of California Farmland Turns to Dust amid Water Crisis

The cuts to water supplies are jeopardizing the future of many farmers

 on 19th July 2022 @ 4.00pm
drought conditions are worsening  making it harder for farmers to irrigate crops © press
Drought conditions are worsening, making it harder for farmers to irrigate crops

As temperatures soar to historic highs across the west, Californian farmers are seeing hundreds of thousands of acres of their land become fallow in a state responsible for a tremendous amount of US food production.

The cuts to water supplies are jeopardizing the future of many farmers.

Drought conditions are worsening, making it harder for farmers to irrigate crops.

Josue Medellin-Azuara, an associate professor at the University of California Merced, told Bloomberg that 800,000 acres of farmland could be unworked this year.

Medellin-Azuara said the figure is preliminary as satellite imaging of California cropland continues to be examined amid the crippling droughts.

He said official estimates would be in by the end of this month or early August.

Multi-decade investments in farm production have been destroyed over new water restrictions.

A lot of the fallow land is in California's Central Valley, responsible for producing over half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the US.

Meanwhile, farmers are seeing massive reductions in surface water rights due to low snowmelt and dwindling storage.

"What's really concerning is for the first time we are fallowing at least 250,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley," Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said in an interview.

"Those are the most senior water rights holders."

Medellin-Azuara said the new water restrictions are a complicated issue:

"Last year, some California farmers were stunned to find their so-called senior water rights restricted," he said.

"Water laws in the state are governed by a complex system that dates back to the Gold Rush era. Senior rights holders, which include companies, growers and cities with claims that were acquired before 1914, and landowners whose property borders a river -- are the last to see their supplies curtailed."

California's most productive region for agriculture is turning into dust, which should concern every American.

California produces a quarter of the nation's food.

But shrinking crop output is more alarming news that reveals food inflation is becoming structural and won't abate anytime soon.

[READ MORE] Food Shortages Loom in China as Farmers Face ‘Production Crisis’ amid Pandemic

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tags: California | Food
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