FRESNO COUNTY, California (KSEE) – With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves.
Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity.
Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought brings a flood of concern
“Hundreds and thousands of acres that are not going to be planted,” said Del Bosque.
Unlike past droughts, Del Bosque says this year is different.
“We’ve only got enough water to get to July.”
He says the usual transfer of water between farmers is not guaranteed.
“Right now, they are holding that water for a later period and they cant assure us we will have that water until possibly September or October and that’s too late by then our crops have died,” said Del Bosque.
Water uncertainty is forcing many farmers to make tough decisions.
This field of asparagus was just destroyed in order to save water for other crops.
“There’s been a blade that’s cut underneath and these here, they are green still but they are going to die,” explained Del Bosque.
The loss of asparagus means 50-60 farmworkers are out of a job next year.
If more crops are lost, jobs will follow.
“I don’t know what they are going to do because the whole valley is in the same situation and there’s not going to be new jobs if there’s no water,” explained Del Boseque.
He predicts the drought will lead to less produce, which will take a toll at grocery stores.
“The prices may be higher and the average person may not be able to afford them and that’s sad because everybody ought to be able to afford fresh produce,” Del Bosque said.
He says Governor Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion drought and water infrastructure plan could help repair sinking canals.
But the real help for farmers would be to invest in water storage.
“We need to find ways to store more water in the really wet years. Take storm flows and put it into storage so when we are in a drought-like today we will have that extra water,” said Del Bosque.
A water battle rooted in decades of droughts is now coming to a head in the Central Valley.