Editorial: Calfiornia’s Farm-Water Scapegoat

“Between 1993 and 2006—normal years for precipitation—Central Valley Project allocations averaged 75% for farmers and 94% for urban users south of the Delta. (Those in the north get more in part because they aren’t affected by pumping restrictions.) During the subsequent three-year drought, agriculture was cut to 33% and cities 70% on average. Since 2012 agriculture has averaged 15% and cities 55%. Supplies for wildlife refuges were only recently curbed to 75% this year. Farmers are getting zip.

. . . Farmers have adapted to this undeclared water rationing in part by fallowing land. Between 1992 and 2012, about 900,000 acres of land was removed from production, according to the USDA. More than 500,000 acres have since been fallowed. One result is double-digit unemployment across the Central Valley—11.8% in Tulare, 13.1% in Fresno, 13.2% in Merced and 14.4% in Porterville.”

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