Effects of California’s Drought on Agriculture

9585107660_9581e5c6e8_kCalifornia is in the third year of one of the state’s worst droughts in the past century, one that led to fierce wildfires, water shortages and restrictions, and potentially staggering agricultural losses. California’s severe drought is expected to put pressure on consumer prices for fruits, vegetables and other goods. California, the country’s largest producer of dozens of items found in grocery stores — including grapes, kiwis, olives, avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, tree nuts and dairy — is entangled in its fourth year of a crippling drought. California’s drought has had a national impact on food prices, as the cost of some U.S. produce grown exclusively in the Golden State, such as almonds, artichokes, olives, persimmons, pistachios and raisins, marches upward. Consumers this year are expected to pay about 3 percent more for fruits and vegetables. The scarcity of water has already forced growers in the nation’s most populous state to abandon thousands of acres or pay more to water the land they keep in production. No one is more nervous about the drought than California’s growers. Agriculture consumes about 80 percent of the water used in California. The lack of water is forcing some California farmers to spend huge sums of money to keep their crops irrigated and growing. And the scarcity of water is also affecting the value of some farm land. Analysts have found that the drought had directly cost California $2.2 billion in 2014.

                              Lake Oroville 2014                                                                     Lake Oroville 2011

Photos © NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY 2.0), NBC News (Justin Sullivan, Paul Hames, Getty Images), Article National Geographic

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