(OPINION) ETH – What is happening in California right now is going to affect every man, woman, and child in the entire country. Today, California has 24.6 million acres of farmland, and the state produces more of our fruits and vegetables than anyone else by a very wide margin.
So if agricultural production is dramatically reduced because of the endless megadrought that currently has the state in a death grip, that is going to be a major problem for all of us. If you visit the official U.S. Drought Monitor website, you will see that nearly all of California is experiencing either “extreme drought” or “exceptional drought” right now. Things have been so hot and so dry for so long that Governor Gavin Newsom has decided to declare a “drought emergency” in more than two-thirds of the counties in the state…
The state is facing yet another hot, dry summer ahead, and the governor has declared a drought emergency in 41 of the state’s 58 counties. More than 37 million Californians reside in these drought areas, according to the US drought monitor. “This is without precedent,” Newsom said at a news conference announcing the first two declarations in April, speaking from the bed of Lake Mendocino that had been reduced to arid, cracked clay.
Not long ago, he would have been standing under 40ft of water. “Oftentimes we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed a historic moment.” Newsom is not exactly known to be a straight shooter, but in this rare instance, he is telling it like it is. This isn’t just a crisis. This is a major crisis of epic proportions that isn’t going away any time soon.
Without enough water to function normally, many California farmers have already been faced with some absolutely heartbreaking decisions. For example, farmer Joe Del Bosque said that it was a “sad day” when he recently had to destroy 100 acres of organic asparagus… In Fresno and Merced counties, farmers are making tough decisions, abandoning thousands of acres of lower-value, high-water crops like almond and asparagus fields, for more valuable produce.
“It’s a really sad day,” Fresno County’s Joe Del Bosque told the Bay Area News Group, after destroying 100 acres of organic asparagus to divert precious water to more valuable melons. “The water is so uncertain this year. We didn’t think we’d have enough to carry it through.” Del Bosque hasn’t given up on this year completely yet.
He is still hoping to salvage a melon crop, but he openly admits that he is taking a “big risk” by planting anything at all… “We’re taking a big risk in planting crops and hoping the water gets here in time,” said Del Bosque, 72. So what happens if the water never arrives? For Del Bosque and countless other California farmers that have decided to risk planting crops, a potentially historic crop catastrophe could be looming. READ MORE