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How the mega-drought affects California farmers, food supply

Dry Farm Field, Bakersfield (FILE)
Posted at 11:38 AM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 14:38:49-04

(KERO) — With the official start of summer just a few days away scientists say a megadrought across the western United States could get even worse. Some farmers have already had their water sources cut off and the drought, which leaves more fields fallow, is also fueling devastating wildfires.

Richard Bianchi is a fourth-generation farmer in Hollister, California. His fields, farm, and family, are now facing the megadrought which scientists say is the worst western dry spell in 1200 years.

More than 90 percent of the west is in a drought and Bianchi's most reliable water source is now shut off. Bianchi says he has no choice but to pump lower-quality groundwater into his fields and he's not sure how long that'll last.

"It’s limiting the amount of ground that we can farm. It’s limiting the intensity that we can farm. Are we gonna have water in two, three years out of our aquifer? Nobody can say that."

Bianchi adds that less water availability for farmers means fewer choices for consumers at the grocery store.

Economists say less supply will likely push the cost of food even higher. And environmental experts are worried about the potential for more wildfires due to the dry soil.

Federal officials say up to 3 quarters of Northern California's farming fields could stay dry growing almost nothing this summer season and possibly furthering the spread of fires.