Central California farmers brace for third straight drought year

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Spring is officially here and Agriculture experts are bracing for yet another dry year.

The lack of rain this past winter is spelling out trouble for farmers.

"We looked at a very incredible December but since then, the spigot's shut off," said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

Like last year, water allocations for farms are expected to be low.

For farmers like Paul Betancourt, who's grown almonds in the Valley since the mid-80s, this is nothing new.

"You look back historically, there are no normal years in California. There are wet years, there are dry years," said Betancourt.

He says between fuel and supply costs -- the drought is just another issue farmers are dealing with right now.

"There's never been water to waste in California and we've had to be careful with the supplies we had," said Betancourt.

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He'll have to tap into groundwater -- much like other farmers across Central California -- to make up for the lack of rain.

"Fresno County is typically the first to see drought impacts in the state - now we're starting to see it up and down the state," said Jacobsen.

Even during a dry year like this, California just can't afford to stop irrigating crops.

Betancourt is an almond farmer and when it comes to almonds -- there is some controversy among some since it takes about a gallon of water to grow one nut.

Betancourt compares it to the amount of water it takes to sustain one person's daily diet.

"United Nations food and ag organization - their global numbers, it takes 800 gallons of water per person per day to grow their food," he said.

After checking with Ryan Jacobsen from the farm bureau -- here in the U.S., it's actually more than 1,000 gallons per person per day to sustain the American diet.

Even still, compared to the rest of the world, California's farming water footprint is small. Experts say that means conservation efforts do work and prove farmers are always looking for ways to save water.
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