My quick, poorly thought out answer to the question in the post title would have been “yes”, but OtPR once again has pointed out the error in my thinking. The wealthiest California farmers, OtPR argues, have locked themselves into high value but permanent crops (especially almonds) that leave them less flexibility to respond to climate variability:
[W]ealth is not acting to create the resilience I’d expect. Rather, if my association of wealth with greater farm equipment or permanent crops (very expensive to plant) holds true, it seems to be making total failure more likely. I generally think that wealth buffers against poor periods, but in Mr. Heathcock’s story, the resiliency appears to be highest in the least wealthy and lowest in the most wealthy. The garlic pickers who are contemplating moving to Washington and Oregon (yes! good choice on their part if farm labor is their goal) have a mobility the others don’t. The growers in row crops can rent their land for the drought year (Barlow, cotton) or only farm the sections they have water for (Allen, cotton). It is the growers in permanent crops that are in all-or-nothing situations. I’d have thought they were the wealthiest, but their wealth hasn’t been kept in a form that can buffer them against drought. They should be holding it in accessible form so they can get through dry years without farming. I’ll have to think about this more.