California’s family farmers are adaptive and innovative, but farmers across the state have been forced to fallow cropland – meaning rural communities lose critical businesses, services, and infrastructure – due to farm-water costs and shortages. Recently, the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences reported net farm profits were down 11 percent due to higher overall costs on farms, despite rising farm income. The farms that stay in business are increasingly pressured to grow higher-value crops that can support high water costs. This reduces the diversity of crops being grown in every region of the state.
California must invest in smart water management, improving the flexibility and resiliency of diverse beneficial water uses, and expand water storage while embracing results-oriented, adaptive river management to prepare for an uncertain future.