State-Wide Drought Expected To Drive Up Food Prices

Fresno, CA Fresno city officials are asking you to reduce your water usage by ten-percent. You can do that by fixing broken sprinkler heads and not washing the car so often at home.

With less water to go around, you'll soon pay more for what is harvested from our fields.

The sweet corn grown and sold at Fresno State is snapped up quickly at four for a dollar but experts say, by July, you can expect a jump in produce prices at local supermarkets. Mickey Paggi of Fresno State's Center for Ag Business said "I'm afraid food's gonna go the way of gasoline. Its gonna be that experience you had where it goes up for a sustained period and then it starts to come down but it never goes back down to where it was."

With farmers on the valley's west-side forced to ration their water supply, they're making tough decisions on which crops to save. Permanent crops like almonds will take precedent over many vegetables.

Less produce plus same demand equals higher prices. Paggi said "Geez almost everything comes from here. Summer squashes. The yellow and the italian squash, tomatoes, leafy greens, pretty much everything."

The water shortage is just one more factor driving up our food prices. Rising diesel costs have already led to sharp increases in the check-out line. Paggi added "Everything we eat in the food store, in doesn't matter if it's the local guy or whatever, it had to get there and the increase in transportation is going up. It's all coming together at one time unfortunately."

Fresno city officials are now asking you to voluntarily cut back on your water usage by ten-percent. Lon Martin, the Assistant Director of the Public Utilities department, said "Over 70-percent of the eater consumed by our customers goes to landscape irrigation so we're really going to be watching out for folks that have irrigation that's flooding the sidewalks and going into the curb, broken sprinklers and people that are out hosing off the driveways and sidewalks."

Martin says the city will step up its effort to enforce watering rules. Residents will also soon receive mailers offering conservation tips.

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