California agriculture industry facing $1 billion in drought losses


California’s agricultural industry is facing $1 billion in lost revenue this year from the state’s worst drought in decades and could pay about $500 million for additional groundwater pumping, a new study said.

The UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences said in a report released Tuesday that the state’s drought has reduced river water for Central Valley farms by roughly one-third their normal level, increasing the need for groundwater pumping.

The amount of groundwater pumping is doubling in some areas, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin, the study said.


That alternative source of water, though finite and increasingly murky, has kept agricultural losses from spiraling out of control.

“California’s agricultural economy overall is doing remarkably well, thanks mostly to groundwater reserves,” said Jay Lund, a co-author of the study and director of the university’s Center for Watershed Sciences. “But we expect substantial local and regional economic and employment impacts. We need to treat that groundwater well so it will be there for future droughts.”

The study also estimated that the drought would result in the loss of 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs, equal to 3.8% of farm unemployment in the state.

California is the leading agricultural state in the nation, responsible for $44 billion in revenue.