The California economy could lose $2.2 billion this year because of the drought. That’s according to a UC Davis study that shows the agriculture industry alone could lose $1.5 billion.
The study says California will have to make do with a third less water this year and that could lead to 430 thousand acres of fallow farmland. The study’s authors say the pain won’t be spread evenly throughout the state.
“On average, people will get their fruits, nuts, raisins, vegetables and wine,” says former UC Davis Economist Richard Howitt. “But there are pockets of extreme deprivation where they’re out of water and out of jobs.”
Howitt estimates 17,000 seasonal farm workers could be unemployed. The report recommends California adopt statewide groundwater pumping rules and keep regular track of groundwater levels.
The drought is expected to continue for at least another year. US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be in Fresno on Friday to announce the next phase of federal drought relief.