The Bad News: California’s Farmers Are Not Over

Another California exodus: Dairy cows leave for greener pastures in Texas, Arizona as farms squeezed by drought, heat, and floods (AP)

For many farmers, the news has not been pretty.

California’s drought isn’t over, nor are any of the drought’s worst-hit agricultural regions (the San Joaquin Valley, for instance, is still facing double-digit drought). And if anything, the drought has grown more intense over time, especially since last summer.

But this year’s drought is different, a lot different, and has turned out to be far worse for California’s farmers, many of whom have been suffering through long, hard years. For much of the past year, the drought has been so deadly, it’s impossible to separate how it’s affected farmers from how it’s impacted the environment.

As if the drought wasn’t bad enough, we’re now experiencing what may be the worst heat wave in California’s history, with temperatures in some parts of the state topping 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) in some months.

To complicate things some more, the drought and the heat have created a perfect storm for California’s remaining agribusiness interests: as the weather gets even drier, many of the state’s largest farms are beginning to get squeezed by fierce competition, reduced demand, and a growing risk of bankruptcy. This, in turn, has forced many other smaller farms to close.

When these factors combine, it’s not hard to see why food prices, as well as some of the state’s biggest industries, are seeing their worst year on record in just a few short months.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

The good news: the state’s major crop producers will continue to be able to feed their expanding global populations as long as they keep working harder and longer, producing more and better food in a changing landscape.

The bad news: they may not have much time left.

To those who love the land, the idea that America’s farmers could be driven to extinction by what’s happening with our national food supply is deeply disheartening. To us, it’s an opportunity to make a difference.

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