Report: More than Half of California Rice Fields Left Barren in Drought
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Report: More than Half of California Rice Fields Left Barren in Drought

Report: More than Half of California Rice Fields Left Barren in Drought

More than half of California’s rice fields have been left fallow this year due to the ongoing drought and a lack of allocations from state and federal water projects, leaving the Sacramento Valley, normally inundated with water this time of year, dry.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports: Normally, by September, the drive north from Sacramento on Interstate 5 showcases vast stretches of flooded rice fields on both sides, farms bustling with tractors and workers preparing for fall harvest. ... As drought endures for a third year with record-breaking temperatures and diminishing water supplies, more than half of California’s rice fields are estimated to be left barren without harvest — about 300,000 out of the 550,000 or so in reported acres, provisional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. This year, rice is estimated to account for just 2% of total planted acres across the state. Farmers in the Sacramento River Valley received almost none of their usual water allocation. However, farmers on the east side of the Central Valley, which use water from Lake Oroville, were able to receive about 75% of their allocation.

The result, the Chronicle reports, is that despite the general decline in rice cultivation, farmers on the east side were able to plant more: “Meanwhile, in Butte County, lush green fields can still be seen from space, as shown in the imagery above from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellite. Butte County farmers actually planted slightly more acres of rice than last year.” Farmers are worried that the current La Niña condition, which is partly responsible for the drought, could persist into a third year, with little or no rain in the coming 2022-23 winter. That, in turn, could mean more water restrictions and economic ruin. Critics of the state’s Democrat-run government point out that California has not expanded water storage capacity in decades, despite the severity of the recent 2011-2017 drought and the approval by voters of water bonds to improve water supplies. Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak. Photo: file.

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