The state of California is in a severe drought and though we just had a drenching rain on Super Bowl Sunday, the fact is one storm does not end what still is the driest year on record. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state-of-emergency and then to exacerbate the situation and make matters worse for farmers, specifically in the San Joaquin Valley, the state has cut off all water from the State Water Project.
Essentially, the Governor and state of California are saying ‘you’re on your own’. And yet this serious situation doesn’t appear to be making the major headlines with the media who seemed more concerned with toilet fishing in the Olympics than a major food source being driven to the brink.
Farmers still taking the brunt
Many cities across the Golden State will be hamstrung for water, but those feeling the pinch the most will be farmers. The region had been already hit hard when water restrictions were imposed to purportedly save the delta smelt that had worked its way into farmer’s canals. That created unemployment figures that in some areas were 50% and produced losses in the billions of dollars for the state.
The San Joaquin Valley is or at least was considered one of the most productive food regions in the United States if not the world. However, the valley has been devastated economically by the supposed dangers to the smelt. Now, with the state denying farms any water at all, the likely destruction of farmland could be catastrophic. It should be noted that even with the cuts, Fresno County still leads the nation in farming.
The San Joaquin Valley is a large representation of what is going on all over California. With only urban cities receiving limited deliveries of water, farming communities as well as small towns could be left without. The state is leaving waters in reservoirs for fish to survive but not farmers. As was mentioned in our story last week, cities all over the state our nervously looking for water such as what sits underneath the Paso Robles ground water basin.
Nut farms which use more water than say vegetable crops will see owners prone to pull the trees for crops that don’t require as much water. Such may be the case with grapes as well. Vineyards are more efficient than nut trees but vintners are getting anxious and in some small instances, vines are being pulled.
Concerns of Californians are all about the lack of water. The question though has to be asked as to whether some fish and urban populations should take more of the brunt of this problem or are we going to risk farms and food instead.
Although there are questions about just how much more storms are is in store for the state, even if the rest of winter was steady with rain, major issues will continue, as sides are being taken between water and food … and farmers.