The conditions are so dry; Mendocino County leaders have already declared a drought emergency. Valley growers say our area also deserves a break from state lawmakers.
Water, the lifeline for farmers throughout the Valley is in short supply. The first Sierra Nevada snow survey of the season found water levels in the statewide snowpack to be just 20% of average for this time of year. At a meeting in Sacramento, water managers lobbied Governor Jerry Brown to declare an emergency. So far the Governor has formed a task force to study the shortage. But local leaders want more. "We can wait and take another snow survey in February or March, but I can tell you right now we're headed into a possible year that's even worse than 1977," said Gary Serrato with Fresno's Irrigation District.
The Westlands Water District is preparing growers for a very dry 2014. They predict about 200,000 acres of agricultural land in the area will remain unfarmed this year. That's well over twice the size of the City of Fresno. "This year is going to be very, very difficult - what we are looking at is growers having to leave fields unplanted. Just completely barren," said Gayle Holman.
Among the farmers who may get hit the hardest is, Joe Del Bosque. "I have got to try and do everything I can to try to get water to plant them but if I can't it's going to be a terrible loss and I have to tell our customers across the united states that we don't have any food for them," said Del Bosque.
The West Side farmer may get out of the cantaloupe business altogether this season. He told us it could cost him too much money to water the crop and still employ hundreds of workers. "It hurts a lot because melons are my primary crop and that's the crop that's most likely to be fallowed," added Del Bosque.