Farmers In California Feeling Effects Of Drought

Farmers In California Feeling Effects Of Drought

Water restrictions, higher prices, and wildfires that are more ferocious brought on by climate change are changing the landscape of California and the lives of those who have farmed there for decades.Is California another Australia in the making?

Rancho Water to me is wrong to charge what they are charging and taking advantage of the drought to make more money. But also, farmers then need to learn to conserve water and cut down on the crops they grow that use much water. Unfortunately, having to pay more for the water may eventually help them get to that point.

Conservation is the key.

From the article:

Farmers served by the Rancho California Water District will pay more for water. It's just a question of when.

A program that allowed farmers to get cheaper water in exchange for agreeing to cutbacks in supplies in drier times could be phased out by 2013. That means farmers used to getting discounted water for crops will pay the same as the district's household and industrial customers.

That, combined with higher fuel and fertilizer costs and cheaper foreign goods, is the last thing local farmers need, said Ben Drake, a district board member who runs a farm management company.

"I may not be able to farm in the next eight to 10 years," said Drake, who has been in the Temecula Valley since the 1970s.

"None of my clients are spending any extra money on anything."

For years, many Rancho Water farmers received discounted water through the Metropolitan Water District's Interim Agricultural Water Program. Metropolitan wholesales water to Rancho, and its program gave farmers a lower rate in exchange for being first on the chopping block for supply cuts.

The program relies on surplus water; right now, there is none and Metropolitan doesn't expect to have a surplus in the next few years, said Rancho spokeswoman Meggan Reed.

About 1,700 customers take part in the program. About 48 percent of the water sold by Rancho Water goes to agriculture.

With a long-term drought and a court decision cutting supplies from the Sacramento River Delta, Metropolitan, which supplies 70 percent of the Rancho district's water, announced last year a 30 percent cut in water supplied to program participants.

Rancho Water had little choice but to pass along the cuts to farmers. To take the sting out of the cutbacks, district staff worked with farmers to find more ways to conserve water. Now, with the program gone by 2013, the district is giving farmers a chance to opt out now and pay the same rate as regular customers.

Program participants pay 65 cents per hundred cubic feet or 88 cents per hundred cubic feet, depending on where they are. With the program's demise, those customers would pay either 72 cents per hundred cubic feet or $1.88 per hundred cubic feet.

Those who opt out -- the deadline is Jan. 1 to opt out for next year -- will not be subject to the 30 percent cutback, although they face much higher charges if they exceed their water allowance.

Gene Bianchi, of De Luz, said he's not sure whether he'll opt out of the program.

Bianchi has about 1,100 avocado trees on his 12-acre parcel. He says he is spending about $11,000 to $12,000 annually on water.

Also see:

Wildfires Ravage Southern California

Drought brings wildfires, and climate change along with human waste brings drought. It is a vicious cycle that can only be broken when humans see their hand in this.

Drought Monitor-California

The entire area of California currently experiencing these devastating fires is also experiencing moderate to severe drought which only adds to its ferocity.