News / Economy

California Drought Will Lead to Higher Food Prices

California Drought Will Lead to Higher Food Pricesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
March 14, 2014 12:09 AM
California is a major farming state, and a serious drought is hurting its farmers and raising the likelihood of higher food prices throughout the United States. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from California's Central Valley, where water-starved farms are cutting production.
California Drought Will Lead to Higher Food Prices
Mike O'Sullivan
California is a major farming state, and a serious drought is hurting its farmers and raising the likelihood of higher food prices throughout the United States. In the state's Central Valley water-starved farms are cutting production.

Last year was the driest on record in California, and this year may be just as dry.  

Some reservoirs are empty and the Sierra mountain snow pack, which melts and fills rivers in the springtime, is at dangerously low levels -- just one quarter of normal.  

Farmers warn of another "Dust Bowl" -- referring to the drought and dust storms that ravaged American farmlands in the 1930s.  

California produces nearly half of the United States' fruits and vegetables, and much of it comes from the state's sprawling Central Valley.  

Dan Errotabere is a third generation farmer who grows tomatoes, walnuts, garlic and other crops in Fresno County. The federal agency that controls the water released from dams and the river system has cut his water supplies to zero.

“The last couple of years, dry years, coupled with severe environmental restrictions, has now presented us with a zero allocation year," said Errotabere.

More than 200,000 hectares of prime farmland may go unplanted in the Central Valley. Errotabere will let more than 20 percent of his farm lie fallow and lay off 10 of 25 workers.

“Right now, we're completely depending on wells to finish these crops off, but I'm going to be fallowing [not planting on] 1,200 acres [485 hectares] of our operation. There won't be anything growing on there,” he said.

Even years with good rainfall have seen reduced water allocations, as federal and state officials supply water to the Sacramento River Delta, home of delta smelt and other endangered species.  

Errotabere -- and other farmers -- say the water system is mismanaged and that his high-efficiency drip irrigation system offers little help without supplies of water.

Ryan Jacobsen of the Fresno County Farm Bureau said the shortage is forcing hard decisions. “The severity of this drought will be seen for possibly a decade to come because of the effects it's going to have on permanent crops and the likelihood that many of these permanent crops may have to come out of the ground.”

Those permanent crops include citrus, walnuts and grapes.

The effects have not hit the nation's consumers yet, but inevitably they will, as shortages lead to higher prices.  

Jon Murga of Fresco Community Markets in Los Angeles said politicians need to come up with an answer to the water crisis.

“Because that, at this moment, seems to me to be the most important thing that we need to be addressing. Long term, short term, intermediate term, however you choose to look at it,” said Murga.

Murga said rising food costs in California will affect the entire country. And since California is a major exporter of food, it also will affect markets overseas.  

Long-term solutions include conservation and recycling waste water, building desalination plants and -- farmers say -- better management of the state's water system.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9118
JPY
USD
124.31
GBP
USD
0.6420
CAD
USD
1.3048
INR
USD
64.136

Rates may not be current.