(Photo : REUTERS/NOAH BERGER)
California is the most populous state in America and is also the largest agricultural state of the country, generating an average of $5 billion in revenues annually, Mashable noted. However, recent changes in the climate appears to threaten the agricultural yield of the Golden State.
A UC Davis' Center for Watershed Sciences study, which is financed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, revealed that the current drought affecting the state "will cost the agriculture industry $1.7 billion and trigger the loss of 14,500 jobs."
"The study finds that Central Valley irrigators will only get one-third or 32.5% of their normal water deliveries. Farmers will most likely replace that water with groundwater, which will cost about $450 million to obtain," the tech and business news site said. "Researchers also predict that 410,000 acres will be fallow this growing season, resulting in a loss of 14,500 jobs, with 6,400 of those jobs affecting workers directly involved in harvesting crops."
California is now on its third year of what state officials regard as a "catastrophic drought," Reuters reported. This lengthy dry spell brings the risk of some small communities running out of drinking water, aside from the agricultural impact.
"Local communities will be hit the worst. We'll see higher unemployment, more welfare expenses and less tax revenue coming in," Jay Lund told Mashable. Lund is the director at the Center for Watershed Sciences and is also a co-author of the said study.
"All of the study's findings are preliminary, and researchers said some estimates may increase, depending on what the actual labor costs of the growing season may amount to," Mashable said.
Despite the ominous findings, Lund believed California's economy won't be "threatened" due to the fact that agriculture is only 3% of the state's GDP.
"In response to drought conditions, most of California is under some form of mandatory water-rationing or other regulatory practices, such as watering lawns and cars on specific days only," Mashable explained.