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Who'll Be Harmed By Drought? Everyone, Experts Say

Joe Moore
Valley Public Radio

With record dry conditions across the state and Governor Jerry Brown’s drought declaration today farmers and other agriculture leaders in the San Joaquin Valley are predicting a grim economic forecast for 2014.  

“People are really worried about protecting their trees and vines; they’re worried about their profits,” says Vernon Crowder a senior analyst for the Food & Agribusiness Research Advisory Group at Rabobank in Fresno. “Then you also have the third parties that are involved be it the lenders, such as ourselves, be it the chemical and fertilizer applicators, labor processors that are worried about the fact that there is going to be less production.”

He says the issue of drought needs to be thought of on a larger scale.

“Farmers are going to have to learn how to better manage their groundwater supply and there is going to have to be more flexibility in the future about how you move water back and forth to another where there is need,” Crowder says.

Gayle Holman with Westlands Water District, which encompasses over 600,000 acres of farmland in the Valley, says the drought is going to run farmers dry.

But Holman adds that perhaps "citizens will be some of the hardest hit."

“When you’re faced with an almost zero water allocation for the initial allocation it is a pretty dire situation,” Holman says.  “I think we’re going to see a lot more fallowing, more than we have, and probably more than we saw in 2009 – the first time ever we received a zero allocation.”

Holman says that the droughts reach extends beyond the farmer.

“There’s so much agricultural production that is indirectly linked to an actual field,” Holman says. “That people don’t even realize that we have everyone from the banking industry to different businesses that rely on crop production that feed into the goods and services in the trucking industry that haul all the goods that are produced from this area.”

But Holman adds that perhaps “citizens will be some of the hardest hit.”

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