A new study has found that the economic impact on agriculture of California’s 4-year and counting drought will grow $500 million to $2.7 billion in 2015.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis released preliminary results of the study this week, which they will update in July.
The scientists told officials during a briefing for the California Department of Food & Agriculture that the drought will lead to 32 percent more land fallowed for a total of 564,000 acres, and 18,600 jobs lost.
Surface water will be reduced by 8.7 million acre-feet. While a significant portion of that loss will be compensated for with groundwater pumping, state farmers will still face a water shortage of 2.5 million acre-feet of water over their historic usage.
According to the authors, California’s farmers will experience $856 million in lost crop revenue, while dairies will be hit with a $250 million shortfall and other livestock industries will face a $100 million revenue loss.
Some regions of California will feel the drought more sharply. For instance, the San Joaquin Valley will lose many more agriculture-related jobs than other regions, with more than 1,500 fewer jobs during irrigation season.
The report was released the same week that mandatory water usage restrictions went into effect. California governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order in April requiring statewide reductions of 25 percent on average. The order went into effect June 1.
Reduction requirements for different water agencies vary greatly, ranging from 8 percent to 36 percent. Water agencies can fine property owners up to $500 per day for failing to abide by the restrictions.
Before April, Brown had asked for voluntary reductions of 20 percent, but the state repeatedly fell short of that target. Californians had their best showing in April, when they cut water usage by 13.5 percent, a huge improvement over March’s 3.9 percent reduction and February’s measly 2.6 percent reduction, but still short of governor’s goal.