California residents are witnessing what could be the worst drought their state has ever seen, but the effects don’t stop at brown lawns. Very soon, people will experience grocery price hikes in the produce, dairy, and meat sections, reports Modern Farmer.
Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition, tells Modern Farmer that customers can expect to see produce price hikes as soon as tomorrow.
Why? Because many Mediterranean products in the United States can only be grown in California’s sunny, warm climate. The list includes “almonds, dates, figs, plums, raisin grapes, olives, clingstone peaches, pistachios, pomegranates, sweet rice, walnuts, and kiwis.”
This drought presents unfortunate challenges for many fig, date, and olive farmers. Many were forced to let their vines die in order to save more immediate crops. Without those vines, this drought will effect United States production for several years.
Amazingly, there is no end in sight. Forbes reports that “the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service forecasts that the drought will ‘persist or intensify’ at least through April.”
Forbes thinks the solution lies in the development of new crop varieties that can tolerate periods of drought and other water-related stresses:
“Even where irrigation is feasible, plants that use water more efficiently are needed. Because irrigation for agriculture accounts for roughly 70 percent of the world’s fresh water consumption, the introduction of plants that grow with less water would allow much of it to be freed up for other uses. Especially during drought conditions, even a small percentage reduction in the use of water for irrigation could result in huge benefits.”
And California’s drought problem is getting so serious, some CA cities are prohibiting restaurants from serving drinking water unless diners request it.
For now the drought is only affecting farmers, but soon you and your grocery bill will feel the effects, too.