Drought has some farmers planning to sell their water instead of crops

Sep 10, 2014

A rice field in Colusa County.
California's unrelenting drought is causing some farmers to consider pulling out of the food production business, reported Mark Korba on CNBC.

Bruce Lindquist, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, told the reporter that some farmers have decided to sell their water instead of trying to grow a crop. In fact, water is at such a premium, it is impacting the sale of farmland in California.

"It used to be location, location, location when it came to sales, but now it's water, water, water," said a real estate agent interviewed for the story.

The story included an interview with Northern California rice producer Sherry Polit.

"If we keep going through this drought, it may make us quit and sell the ranch," she said. "We've been rice farmers for 31 years and growing olives for five," she said. "But we just can't take this anymore. We've got to get some rain or this could be over." 

Bees Butler, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at UC Davis, said a drop-off in California rice production will likely have an effect on global markets in time. However, in the immediate future, there is rice in storage to meet world needs.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist