California Drought: Farm and Food Impacts

The ongoing drought in California is likely to have a major impact on the State’s agricultural production. Long-term moisture deficits across most of the State remain at near-record levels. Because California is a major producer in the fruit, vegetable, tree nut, and dairy sectors, the drought has potential implications for U.S. supplies and prices of affected products this year and beyond.

Several subpages on this site describe the situation and potential implications of the drought for California farms, crop and livestock production, and consumer food prices.

Included is information on exposure and vulnerability to drought in California’s agriculture sector as well as variations in impacts on commodities produced in the State. The discussion draws on ERS and other USDA reports and data that track outcomes such as production levels and food price changes—outcomes that are influenced by factors other than just the drought. While exposure to droughtand reliance on irrigation—has economic consequences, this discussion does not include monetary estimates of the impacts on farm incomes. The impacts on supplies of different crop and livestock commodities, affecting both farmers and consumers, are influenced by the scale and importance of California’s production, as well as the share of consumption accounted for by imports.

Current and Forthcoming USDA Data

Current USDA estimates of weather impacts on principal U.S. crops and livestock products are reflected in the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, the monthly Crop Production report, and the March Prospective Plantings report. USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released estimates of 2014 production of vegetable crops in the Vegetables Annual Summary in January 2015. NASS estimates for Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts were released in July 2015. Estimates for 2013/14 and 2014/15 Citrus Fruits were released in September 2015. In-season crop estimates for 2014 for selected fruits and nuts are included in the monthly Crop Production reports. ERS provides monthly updates of the Food Price Outlook.

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