UC team: California ag “positioned to weather this drought”

The latest analysis by a University of California team has concluded (pdf) that agriculture in that state is doing pretty well in the current drought, all things considered: The current drought is causing large economic losses but given innovative responses by farmers and others, those losses have been manageable and California agriculture is positioned to …

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Water policy and the West’s housing market

One of the intellectual frustrations with trying to wrap my head around water policy in the western United States is that it’s really sort of everything policy. There’s climate science and hydrology and history and law and agricultural economics. And, the subject for this afternoon, there’s urban development economics. Much of the policy struggle has …

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Drought adaptive capacity, Kings County CA edition

In your latest reminder that California agriculture has shown some remarkable capacity to adapt to that state’s crushing drought, Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press reports that total agricultural farm gate receipts in Kings County, in California’s drought-devastated southern Central Valley, were up 9 percent last year: Kings County agricultural values advanced 9 percent from …

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When the drought story is really a poverty story

Andrea Costillo in the weekend Fresno Bee: East Porterville’s poverty and education shortcomings stand out in a state analysis of communities with the highest health risks. The analysis from the California Environmental Protection Agency shows the town’s poverty level is among the highest 10% in the state. In education, the community ranks worse than 91% …

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Drought and media bias

Tom Curwen has a great story in today’s Los Angeles Times of the sort that I’d like to see more of – beyond “OMG California is toast” drought coverage to look at what works in the state’s water management, what sort of adaptive capacity exists in the places where water is not running out. Which, …

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UC Davis team puts 2015 California drought impacts at 4 percent of the state’s ag economy

The U.C. Davis drought team today released its estimates for the economic impact of the drought this year. Spoiler alert – it’s worse than last year. Highlights: 560,000 acres fallowed, which is 6 to 7 percent $1.8 billion in direct ag losses (increased groundwater pumping costs and reduced sales), which is about 4 percent Total …

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Hauling water: Navajo

Many Navajo homes lack running water. Many more draw from shallow wells with poor quality water and resulting health problems. Now, my friends Olivier Uyttebrouck and Roberto Rosales report, this community could also lose its hauler, the grandma who trucks in the only clean water available: As she pulls up outside a house, residents quickly …

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California ag showing remarkable resilience

Amid the rhetoric of doom, California agriculture has so far been growing its way through drought: Even as many farmers cut back their planting, California’s farm economy overall has been surprisingly resilient. Farm employment increased by more than 1 percent last year. Gross farm revenue from crop production actually increased by two-tenths of 1 percent …

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The remarkable U.S. water conservation success story

The U.S. economy and population are growing. Our water use is not. New research by Peter Debaere and Amanda Kurzendoerfer of the University of Virginia helps further disentangle the reasons behind this remarkable U.S. water conservation success since the 1980s. The break between population, economic growth, and water use is something Peter Gleick has pointed out …

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In defense of Imperial Valley farming

Tom Philpott, who through his Mother Jones pieces has aimed aimed his considerable knowledge of our food system at California’s water problems, sets his sights this week on the Imperial Valley of southeastern California where, as he notes, “Imperial Valley’s farms gets 3.1 million acre-feet annually—more than half of California’s total allotment and more than …

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