California farmers give mixed reactions to recent rainfall

 

After record winter rainfall helped alleviate California’s drought, the relentless storms have left some farmers frustrated with the rain’s negative effects on their profit margins.

Immanuel Solis, a longtime flower cultivator and merchant from Watsonville, noted that business at the local farmer’s markets has been slow. “[Customers] do not want to bring plants to their homes or gardens because of the rain” he said.

In addition to posing problems for farmers who rely on outdoor markets to sell their goods, the high rainfall has also impacted larger-scale agricultural operations for farmers in the Central Valley who rely on water allocations from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

“Even after a biblical winter like this,” warned Jim Beecher, the owner of an agricultural company in Fresno County, “the Bureau of Reclamation is expected to come out with an initial allocation of 15 to 25 percent of our contract.”

Farmers like Beecher rely on water allocations to cultivate hundreds of thousands of acres throughout the state. When the Bureau of Reclamation fails to provide farmers with the water promised in their contracts, farmers drill ground wells to tap the exhausted California water table, which can take thousands of years to refill.

“The system’s broken,” Beecher said.