climate in crisis

California Drought Causing Significant Increase in Unplanted Farmland

NBC Universal, Inc.

California has seen a significant increase in the amount of farmland left unplanted, mostly due to the drought, according to a recent report.

U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows there are more than 531,000 acres of unplanted land in the state, an increase of about 36% from a year ago. While some of the land is fallow -- left unplanted to rejuvenate the soil -- natural disasters such as drought are responsible for most of the unplanted acreage.

Here's how the problem has progressed over the past three years, according to data from the USDA:

  • 2020 -- 102,800 acres fallow; 74,200 acres prevented
  • 2021 -- 166,800 acres fallow; 188,800 acres prevented
  • 2022 -- 118,800 acres fallow; 384,200 acres prevented

Experts say the issue will only get worse if drought conditions persist.

The drought has had an alarming impact on California agriculture, and that impact carries over to the consumer and the U.S. economy. According to California Farm Water Coalition, the drought will cause more than $3 billion in negative economic impact this year.

In terms of the consumer bottom line, a recent USDA report is projecting lower supply and higher prices in the U.S. for grains like wheat and corn due to drought conditions.

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