California drought ‘to cost farmers $1.7 billion’

May 21, 2014- AFP

Drought Severe On Agriculture

One of California’s worst droughts in decades could cost the US state’s farmers $1.7 billion, a study warned Monday, a week after alarmingly early wildfires forced tens of thousands of homeowners to evacuate. The drought could leave 14,500 workers without jobs in California’s Central Valley, known as America’s food basket for providing vast supplies of fruit, vegetables and meat.

The new study, by the University of California’s Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, found that farmers in the Central Valley would get only two-thirds of their normal river water this year. Some six percent of irrigated cropland will have to lie fallow, while groundwater pumping will cost $450 million, more than a quarter of the estimated $1.7 billion the drought will cost the farming industry. “Without access to groundwater, this year’s drought would be truly devastating to farms and cities throughout California,” said Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences.

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