What is in this article?:
- More water than 1977 drought but less allocation?
- Bulldozing citrus?
- This year's California drought has more available water than the 1977 drought yet some growers this year are receiving zero percent surface water allocation.
- The drought is not solely an agricultural issue - it's a people issue, says Joel Nelsen of California Citrus Mutual.
- Some citrus growers face bulldozing trees from orchards due to the lack of water.
Due to the unwillingness of the National Marine Fisheries Service to cooperate with state and federal lawmakers and agencies, an estimated 50,000 acres of citrus in the Central Valley is at risk of being forced out of production.
“We can guarantee that if this situation continues to persist, at the very least we will have a reduced crop next year which will undoubtedly create a ripple effect for employment and the economies of many rural communities in the Central Valley,” Nelsen said.
“This is not solely an agricultural issue - this is a people issue.”
Dave Roberts has farmed his family’s citrus acreage since he was a child, and now hopes to pass along his legacy of farming to his own young children.
His dream and the future of his family business are now at risk. A lifetime of dedication and investment into his ranch will soon be lost if he does not receive water. Already his trees are beginning to wilt - a sign of worse damage to come.
Matt Fisher, a fourth generation citrus grower, has received zero surface water allocation for his ranch in Terra Bella. Like many operations in the Friant service area, Matt applied for emergency water through the Terra Bella Irrigation District.
At the steep price tag of $1,200 per acre foot - roughly $1,000 more than the normal per acre foot cost - he hopes to produce a crop this season and at the very least keep his trees alive.
If he does not receive any water, it will be only a matter of weeks before he has to decide which citrus ranches he can continue farming and which will be bulldozed out.
“As a farmer, I have an inherent nature to take risks,” Fisher said. “Each year brings about a new set of challenges, but those are risks I have accepted as part of the job.”
He added, “I deal with freezes and pressures from invasive pests, but what I cannot deal with is having my ability to continue farming put at risk because bureaucrats in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. (who) do not see the value in the work I do and the food I provide to consumers around the world.”