California farmers struggle under severe drought

Paddocks once packed with tomatoes to cotton in Salvador Parra’s farm now look like a barren wasteland.

As California suffers its worst drought since 1977, everyone - from farmers like Parra down to the average consumer - will soon be feeling the heat.

A third of Parra's 6,000-acre Burford Ranch now lies fallow, and he's had to dig deep for water for the remaining crops.

"Because of this drought, we're having to pipe water from another well, it's four miles, it's taking us four miles worth of pipeline to get this water here. In addition, we have this well that we're also depending on, and water is coming from 800 feet deep, and we're having to pump it all the way up to the surface so that we can irrigate our crops."

The pipe system is costing the ranch thousands of dollars, but other options are even further out of reach.

And water that is availablecosts up to $2,000 an acre foot – ten times the regular cost.

Parra fears that consumers will soon pay the price.

"Consumers should be worried about garlic and onions and other crops, because come this time next year, they're going to be very scarce and the cost is going to be higher. Most of the garlic in the United States is grown here in California, so not having the water, growers will not be able to grow it."

California is one of the country's top producers of vegetables, berries and all sorts of crops.

But this year's scarce produce has left farm workers like Alejandro Pena worried for their livelihoods.

Burford Ranch has been forced to cut its workforce from 140 down to 110 employees.

"If there is no water, there is no work, no money. People are getting unemployment assistance, those who can - and those who cannot, the situation is sad."

California's last major drought from 2012 to 2017 forced strict water conservation measures, and stoked deadly wildfires.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting