A new report by CoBank says California farmers face up to $1.5 billion in losses due to persistent drought conditions.
CoBank says despite nearly normal rainfall and snowpack during the 2015 – 2016 rainy season, the drought’s lingering effects will lead to another round of water restrictions for farmers through the remainder of the growing year and beyond. A CoBank researcher says although California farms “are less parched today than they were a year ago, water remains in short supply.” That leads CoBank to predict California farmers will fallow up to 350,000 acres this year. The report says crops that yield the highest returns on investment, like permanent plantings of tree crops and vines, should be impacted the least. At the same time, the report expects a significant reduction in acreage for field crops that require significant amounts of water, including corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa. However, despite a projected decline in farm income, the report says California’s agriculture sector remains strong enough to manage through another year of drought.