Effects of the drought on the communities dependent on agriculture will be devastating this year. Businesses that support growers will provide fewer services, handle less crops and employ fewer people, as farmers idle their fields.
“We applaud inclusion of the California Small Agricultural Business Drought Relief Grant Program in the Governor’s May budget revise as an important first step in ensuring the resiliency of our food supply and recognizing the value of the habitat provided on our farms,” said California Rice Commission President & CEO Tim Johnson.
“Our suppliers and support businesses from the mill and dryer to agricultural pilots are critical to our farms. Without them we cannot survive. We must do everything possible to make sure that when it rains again and farming returns to normal that our business partners and communities are still there,” Johnson said.
The drought will affect the entire Central Valley, but be felt especially hard along the Sacramento River, due to historically low rainfall in the Lake Shasta watershed. The Northern California Water Association estimates nearly $1 billion in impacts in the Sacramento Valley. For rice, more than $251 million in impacts will be felt by mills, dryers and service providers to the industry, along with a loss of an estimated 1,500 jobs.
In a time where each drop of water could be the key to survival, rice fields are also a critical lifeline to nearly 230 wildlife species, providing vital surrogate wetlands as drought conditions shrink the available natural habitat.