A legal dispute over water rights in California's Mojave desert has growers for The Wonderful Co. on one side and a town reliant on a sprawling naval base on the other. As Brent Crane reports in FERN's latest story, published with Bloomberg Green, the case offers a glimpse of the coming water wars in California, as the state's all-powerful agriculture interests increasingly square off against thirsty communities over a dwindling supply of fresh water. (No paywall)
U.S. pistachio production is expected to fall by half in the 2015/2016 crop year, causing the global crop to contract by 86,000 tonnes to 529,000 tonnes, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service reported. The U.S. pistachio crop is in an off-year cycle of its alternate-bearing harvest, where trees produce a greater than average crop one year, and a lower than average crop the next.
Even during four years of the worst drought in state history, California has seen total farm earnings increase 16 percent and farm employment rise 5 percent. “Both wages and employment in agriculture increased annually from 2012 to 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reaching $12.7 billion and 421,213 jobs in 2015 …”
Criminals impersonating shipping companies are stealing millions of dollars worth of California’s high-priced nuts, says The Christian Science Monitor.
Since the days of the Gold Rush, "groundwater has been considered a property right; landowners are entitled to what's beneath them," says the Los Angeles Times; California is the only state in the West that does not regulate groundwater.
Drought in California could idle 78 percent of the state's farm land yet, "A booming population and a sharp increase in lucrative crops like berries and nuts that require more water strain the system" says the New York Times.