The Western drought is a major issue for the food supply. This has led to higher prices in grocery stores and large-scale shortages in some regions.
The western drought 2020 is a severe drought that has been occurring in the west coast of the United States. This drought has caused many problems for people and animals alike, including food shortages.
What it means for farmers, and what it means for the country
CALIFORNIA is a state in the United States. You’ve probably seen a sign that says “No Water = No Food” if you’ve traveled through the California Valley.
These signs are leftovers from past droughts in the state, and they were never taken down due to the likelihood of another year without water.
And now we’ve arrived. California is in the midst of another another drought.
We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero
The California Farm Water Coalition (California Farm Water Coalition) (CFWC) predicts that 2021 will be critically dry, similar to the state’s previous drought, which lasted from approximately 2014 to 2016.
Worse, as of June 2, over 2 million acres—nearly a fifth of California’s irrigated farmland—were getting just 5% of their water supply.
More than half of the population receives no water at all.
Farm water supplies have allegedly been reduced by 25% or more in other parts of California, and 60,000 acres in Northern California will get no water this year.
The CFWC is a non-profit educational group that offers the public with fact-based information about agricultural water problems. It was founded in 1989.
Mike Wade, executive director of the CFWC, stated, “It’s all about helping people realize the link between farm water and their food supply.”
Farmers throughout the state have had to make the difficult choice to decrease their planted acres due to a shortage of water.
The California Water Board (CWB) shut off some farmers’ water supply by suspending their water rights, leaving them with little option except to plow under their crops.
The CWB has already suspended farmers’ junior water rights in the Russian River and in the Sacramento-San Juaquin watershed.
“This year, we’ve observed dozens of crops with decreased plantings. Farmers are fallowing annual crop fields,” Wade said.
“What it does is it doesn’t only impact the farmer, as essential as that is,” he added. It has an impact on communities. It has an impact on individuals who rely on such farms for employment. It has an impact on associated companies, especially transportation and processing, all the way down the food chain to the grocery store, where customers will notice decreased supply and increased prices.”
California had its driest year on 2015. Drought effects on California’s agriculture industry resulted in $1.84 billion in direct expenditures, the loss of 10,100 seasonal employment, and 8.7 million acre-feet of surface water shortages, according to drought.gov.
California Governor Gavin Newsom was on the Central Coast on July 8 when he issued an executive order requiring Californians to reduce their water usage by 15%, including agricultural, commercial, and residential.
As of July 13, 50 California counties, including San Luis Obispo County, have declared a drought emergency, impacting 42 percent of the state’s population.
While the drought in California is proving to be disastrous, it isn’t the only state suffering from a drought this year.
According to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-U.S. Lincoln’s drought monitor map, 11 states are suffering severe drought:
- New Mexico is located in the United States.
- North Dakota is a state in North America.
In addition, certain parts of Idaho and South Dakota are experiencing severe drought.
Wheat is the fourth most valuable commodity in the United States, with yearly sales of $5.13 billion.
Four of the states mentioned above are among the top ten wheat producers in the United States.
“This is definitely going to be the worst crop we’ve had in the 35 years we’ve been doing this,” a wheat farmer in Washington State stated in a Spokesman Review story.
Temperatures over 100 degrees are been recorded in areas where temperatures seldom exceed 90 degrees. High temperatures and a lack of water result in poorer quality wheat kernels and perhaps greater protein content, all of which contribute to less tonnage for farmers and purchasers looking for a cheaper wheat price.
California produces approximately 400 distinct products, including two-thirds of all fruit and nuts, one-third of all vegetables, and one out of every five gallons of milk consumed in the United States.
According to the CFWC, California’s water deficit has already impacted the following commodities:
- Cotton Pima
- Corn on the cob
In essence, the consequences of rising heat and drought are already hurting farmers, and we will soon see this reflected in the food supply.
Western states are unquestionably in the midst of a possibly devastating drought.
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Other forces, though, are stealing water from farms in California.
“It’s the consequence of policy shifts that have moved the water available for farms, houses, and companies to serve a wider range of environmental objectives. And when we come to a drought year like this one, the system has no flexibility left, and we wind up with a half of million acres of agriculture with no water supply,” Wade said.
Former California Governor Jerry Brown was interviewed by Channel 3 News in Sacramento on April 15, 2015. California was in the midst of the worst year of the drought, which lasted from 2014 to 2016, and farmers in the California Valley had their water rights terminated.
“Fifty percent of the water in California goes to preserve the environment,” Brown said in an interview with Channel 3. Agriculture receives 40% of the funds, with the remaining 10% going to urban and commercial uses.”
Brown’s claim is backed up by the California Public Policy Institute (PPIC).
“Water consumption per sector is approximately 50 percent environmental, 40 percent agricultural, and 10 percent urban statewide, but the percentages vary significantly between areas and between wet and dry years.”
In terms of water usage in the environment, the PPIC states:
“Water in rivers designated as “wild and scenic” under federal and state laws, water required for maintaining habitat within streams, water that supports wetlands within wildlife preserves, and water required to maintain water quality for agricultural and urban use” are the four categories of environmental water use.
Another California regulation that threatens agricultural water is the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
The SGMA was established to prevent overdrafts and restore balance to groundwater basin pumping and recharge. Local authorities must also develop sustainability plans for high and medium-priority groundwater basins, according to the SGMA.
According to David Sunding and David Roland-Holst of UC Berkeley’s Blueprint Economic Impact Analysis: Phase One Results:
“We estimate that up to one million acres in the San Joaquin Valley may be fallowed over the next two decades as a consequence of decreased ground and surface water availability, based on a study of SGMA and other projected water supply limitations. This quantity of fallowing accounts for about one-fifth of the Valley’s total cultivated land. The annual agricultural income loss due to this fallowing is $7.2 billion.”
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“Counting indirect and induced employment losses with direct job losses, the SGMA and future surface water limitations will result in up to 85,000 job losses and $2.1 billion in lost employee pay annually,” according to the study.
“It will be impossible to continue farming at the scale that we are today in most of the Central Valley in California because of the shift in groundwater accessibility–it may result in half a million acres or more farms being pulled out of production,” Wade says.
The CWB issued a “emergency curtailment” order on July 23. Thousands of farms would be shut off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins as a result of the decree.
The ruling would apply to pre-1914 appropriative water rights claimants as well as certain riparian water rights claimants.
The CWB voted 5-0 on Aug. 3 to approve the emergency curtailment order.
Because the drought is quickly depleting California reservoirs and harming endangered fish, state officials announced farmers would have to cease diverting water from rivers and streams flowing into the Sacramento and San Juaquin Deltas–the state’s two biggest river systems.
Water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, sanitation, and producing power, among other purposes, are exempt from the curtailment order, which will not take effect for another two weeks.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems together drain 40 percent of California’s land and provide at least a part of the state’s roughly 40 million people with water.
“The reality is that water resources throughout the State are very limited, and we are running out of options,” Ernest Conant, regional director of the United States Bureau of Reclamation, who supports the new regulation, stated.
According to Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the division of water rights, the state has also recruited 15 employees to assist in enforcing the emergency order. The regulation empowers state regulators to enforce it, including the imposition of penalties for violation.
“In general, farmers understand drought, and they recognize lean rain years,” said Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau. “We’re in the business of that,” he said. “However, they are unaware of the systemic decline in water dependability that we are seeing in California.”
To be followed by a narrative on the new curtailment order, its impact on farmers, and the broader public.
Drought Map of the United States
California Farm Water Coalition
Wheat Production in Washington in 2021
Water Use in California
David Sunding and David Roland-Holst of UC Berkeley’s Blueprint Economic Impact Analysis: Phase One Results
Order of Emergency Curtailment
Bees in Sacramento
Vote for Curtailment
As an example:
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The severe drought, worsened by climate change, ravages the american west is a problem that has been present for a while. In order to combat this issue, one must understand how it effects the food supply.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does drought impact food production?
Drought is a natural process that occurs when there is not enough rain to water crops. The lack of water can cause crop yields to drop significantly, which in turn will result in less food being available for people.
Why is there a food shortage during a drought?
The food shortage during a drought is due to the lack of water.
Are we in a drought California 2021?
No, we are not in a drought.
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