The drought is leading to a painful year for Northern California’s rice growers. During an event last week for the Public Policy Institute of California, Montna Farms CEO Nicole Montna Van Vleck said it will be even more difficult for related businesses.

“It's going to have devastating impacts,” said Van Vleck. “We've never had this little surface water in the Sacramento Valley.”

Alvar Escriva-Bou, a PPIC engineering and policy researcher, anticipates the amount of land fallowing statewide this year will eclipse that of that last drought, which peaked at 600,000 acres in 2015. 

Looking for the best, most comprehensive and balanced news source in agriculture? Our Agri-Pulse editors don't miss a beat! Sign up for a free month-long subscription.

With 370,000 acres to go fallow in the Sacramento Valley alone, Van Vleck said the situation is worse than last year and will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs. While most farmers have crop insurance, she worried about the hundreds of suppliers serving farmers and ranchers who will be without work.

“The impacts to the communities and our third parties—our dryers, our storage facilities, our mills—there isn't any type of protection there,” she said, adding: “Nor is there for the habitat.”