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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.