General Produce Co. LP

07/13/2021 | News release | Archived content

High & Dry

Cal­i­for­nia grows one third of the veg­eta­bles pro­duced in the United States. It grows two-​thirds of the nation's fruits and nuts.

Last winter's La Nina weather pat­tern in the Pacific left Cal­i­for­nia with less rain­fall and mois­ture than nor­mal or needed.

Many farm­ers saw the impend­ing water short­age and drought con­di­tions as good rea­son to opt out of plant­ing for the this sea­son.

The cur­rent drought is on pace to be one of the worst ever on record. Cal­i­for­nia, home to about 70,000farms and ranches, with a com­bined AGpro­duc­tion of about $50bil­lion a year, is suf­fer­ing severe con­se­quences.

The dairy indus­try accounts for the largest chunk of the state's agri­cul­tural rev­enue, fol­lowed by almonds and then grapes.

The State Depart­ment of Water Resources and the Fed­eral Bureau of Recla­ma­tion, declared that 'the Water Year 2021is cur­rently the dri­est on record since 1977'.

Drought con­di­tions inten­sify long-​standing water allo­ca­tion con­flicts among farm­ers, munic­i­pal­i­ties and envi­ron­men­tal advo­cates. Even in years when the state has had good rain­fall and snow­pack lev­els, Cal­i­for­nia has never had enough water to sat­isfy all demands.

Cli­mate change has shifted rain pat­terns and increased tem­per­a­tures across the planet. Record-​setting tem­per­a­tures in June were an early start to a very long, hot summer.

These hot, dry con­di­tions have all kinds of neg­a­tive impacts to our food sup­ply chain.

A lim­ited grow­ing sea­son and low crop yields are just the begin­ning. Low crop yields can result in ris­ing food costs, and food short­ages.

The severe con­di­tions encour­age insect infes­ta­tion and crop dis­ease.

Cur­rently, Amer­i­can farm­ers are fac­ing a large-​scale grasshop­per pop­u­la­tion. They are attack­ing crops and eat­ing their way through prof­its. Drought years pro­vide ideal con­di­tions for grasshop­per eggs to hatch and sur­vive into adult­hood.

The USDAis engaged in a mas­sive spray­ing pro­gram to erad­i­cate the grasshop­pers. Mean­while, organic farm­ers in the same regions are fight­ing to pro­tect their OGcer­ti­fi­ca­tion due to the spray­ing pro­gram.

Drought also affects the health of live­stock raised for food. Dairy cows are reluc­tant to pro­duce milk dur­ing extreme tem­per­a­tures and heat waves.

Wild­fires rage through the land­scapes out west. Due to weather-​related inci­dents or man­made man­age­ment, the fire sea­son is nearly year-​round, instead of just a few months.

The crip­pling heat is a long-​term cli­mate issue, one that requires seri­ous long-​range goals. Likely, leg­is­la­tion is required to dou­ble down on con­ser­va­tion efforts, more Farm Bill fund­ing and research to nav­i­gate the tough deci­sions ahead.

Future gen­er­a­tions depend on a robust and resilient food sup­ply and local farms.