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Faced with drought, farmers in the US choose not to plant anything

(Bloomberg) – In some areas of California the ground is so dry that farmers haven’t even bothered to plant crops this season.

Growers north of San Francisco have begun pulling out of local farmers markets and subscription box programs.

County Line Harvest, which grows more than 12 hectares in Petaluma, California, does not have enough water to grow all the peppers, lettuces and other products that it normally includes in its subscription boxes, according to a video posted on its Instagram page. Farms around are saying the same thing, highlighting the impact of the prolonged drought.

California harvests one-third of the vegetables and two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts. If dry weather hampers the potency of farm produce, that could add to food inflation that is already starting to affect the post-pandemic US economy.

“Due to the severe drought, for the first time in 21 years, we will not be able to plant this summer in Petaluma,” the County Line said in its post.

Drew Lerner, president of World Weather Inc. in Kansas, said California “had no rainy season,” so it won’t see much humidity in the next few months.

The La Niña weather pattern in the Pacific pushed winter storms north and away from the state, leaving it with less humidity than usual. With California getting most of its water from winter storms, the situation is not expected to improve before October.

That has left producers like Shao Shan Farm in a bind. The company will not be able to offer this its usual selection of Asian vegetables and Bay Area staples that it grows at its Bolinas location, according to its website.

Nearby, Green Valley Community Farm has access to only about 5% of the water it generally relies on, according to owner David Plescia. The company is in the process of seeking new land with better water availability and also has a permit pending to grow cannabis to make up for the loss of income. If the permission does not arrive, they will choose to leave the fields empty.

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“It is part of the cross of our generation, to discover how to run small or medium-scale agricultural businesses in this type of atmosphere” of highly variable rainfall, concluded Plescia.

Original Note: California Farmers Facing Drought Are Choosing Empty Fields (1)

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