“Today’s announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation of a zero water allocation for millions of acres of California farmland was not unexpected. The announcement also underscores how broken the state’s water supply system has become and that significant policy decisions and investments must be made to assure food production is a viable part of California’s future.
“We estimate that more than 500,000 acres of farmland will be idled this year due to water supply shortages, said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. This is the result of multiple dry years and federal environmental policies that prevent the full use of agricultural water supplies from being used for purposes for which they were intended – to grow food.
“Agricultural water supply shortages harm more than just the farms that produce hundreds of varieties of food, fiber and nursery products, Wade added. Unemployment may hit 15,000 seasonal and full time agricultural workers if this year’s drought has the kind of impact on the economy that occurred in 2009. Water shortages then led to idling of 269,000 acres and over 7,400 workers, about half of the expected impact of this year’s drought.
“Consumers throughout the country have a right to be concerned about the safety, price and reliability of their food supply. California produces almost half of the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables and without adequate water in California, food supplies from other states or other countries may be the only option to fill the gap.”