A new University of California, Merced study estimates the agriculture sector lost $1.1 billion and nearly 9,000 jobs last year directly from the drought. CDFA funded the economic impact analysis.
Beyond agriculture, the total economic impacts reached $1.7 billion and more than 14,000 jobs. The report identifies nearly 400,000 acres of farmland idled last year due to water cutbacks. The crops hit hardest were rice in the Sacramento Valley, cotton in the San Joaquin Valley, and grain and field crops statewide.
Yet the impacts were not as severe as the peak of the 2012–16 drought, according to the researchers. Strong commodity prices, particularly for milk, helped mitigate some impacts, along with feedstock alternatives like almond hulls.
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“Sadly, we are going to see more and more droughts like this,” said co-author Alvar Escriva-Bou, an engineering and policy researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California. “So we need better tools to anticipate and minimize the socioeconomic impacts.”