California’s Fallow Farms – First Stage of Food Crisis

10491447_sThe San Joaquin valley of southern California is often referred to as the nation’s breadbasket.

Chances are the fruits and vegetables you buy at your grocery store, regardless if you’re in Ohio or Maine, were grown in this far-reaching valley that lies between Los-Angeles and Sacramento.

One of the world’s most fertile areas of land, it currently provides over 50 percent of the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables.

But all that could change in the next 12 months.

For the past few years the valley’s farms have seen far less rain then they’re used to receiving.

Large sections of land remain unused, and the state has issued water usage warnings since much of the state is experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions.

When interviewed by The Weather Channel, Gene Errotabere said:

“It’s really depressing for us to leave ground out. We’re still paying taxes and payments on everything that’s non-production… I mean, it’s this whole valley. It’s just a breadbasket of our whole country here, and to see this much ground being fallowed is not something I like to see.”

Errotabere and his family have been farming in California sine the 1920s.

Errotabere says his farm is in uncharted territory and on the verge of catastrophe. Thirty percent of his fields have been fallowed this year, and if these conditions continue, more growing operations could be shut down.

“If we have one more year like we had these past two years, it’s going to be devastating out here. We’ll probably have 60 to 65 percent of our production out next year.”

Part of the reason food production is so low is because the severe lack of rainfall has led farmer’s to tap into water held deep down in natural aquifers.

And since farmers in the area have seen consistently lower amounts of rainfall than they’re used to, it’s led many to form an unhealthy reliance on the aquifers… especially now that they’re drying up too.

In a process known as subsidence, groundwater levels have begun to decrease in correspondence to lower levels of rainfall.

As the aquifer levels lower, so does the ability of farms to produce what’s needed to feed the nation.

This certainly could signal the first stages of a severe food crisis.

But what’s interesting is California’s refusal to entertain ideas for sustainable change in the area.

Many solutions to augment water levels have been proposed, but it seems the California government would rather stay true to pinning the blame for the drought on man-made global warming rather than search out solutions that could stave off disastrous food shortages.