California farms have more than half a million acres unplanted this year due to drought, as food prices continue to climb

  • California farms have left more than a half-million acres unplanted this year.
  • Drought and resulting water-supply regulations are largely to blame.
  • The decline in planting coincides with heightened inflation in food-at-home prices.

Extreme drought in California’s prime agricultural territory has, to little surprise, begun affecting the state’s crop production.

Citing recent estimates from the US Department of Agriculture, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday that more than 531,000 acres across the state went unplanted this year, a 36% rise from a year earlier.

The crops most affected are water-intensive plants such as rice and cotton, the Chronicle said, which already have been declining in the state.

The Chronicle noted that about 17% of California is in what’s termed “exceptional” drought, with most of that area comprising the state’s Central Valley, where most of its agriculture takes place.

Aaron Smith, a professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis, told the Chronicle that he expected estimates of this year’s crop production decline to even exceed the current anticipation, given the state’s drought and water supply conditions.

This projected downfall in crop production comes as food prices continue to soar. Earlier this month, the US government said “food at home” prices rose 1.3% in July, translating into a 13.1% jump over the past year. Specifically, cereals and bakery products were up 1.8% in July, while dairy was up 1.7% for the month.

Egg prices have climbed 38% in the past 12 months.