Drought draws notice at Ag Outlook

02/25/2014 06:49:00 AM
Tom Karst

"Water availability could have large consequences for fruit, vegetable and tree nut production, particularly in the Central Valley, which is potentially the most adversely affected area by the shortage," he said.

Bottom line, Glauber said cash receipts for vegetable, fruits and nuts are expected to decline in 2014, but much uncertainty remains because of the potential effects of the drought. With California accounting for about one-third of U.S. vegetable production and two thirds of U.S. fruit and nut production, he said serious shortfalls in water could spike fruit and vegetable prices.

The Feb. 21 announcement by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that the water supply allocation to several Central Valley agricultural contractors is zero certainly doesn't lift sprits.

The story of the drought's effect on fruit, vegetable and nut growers is only beginning to be written. Give your thoughts on how the drought could affect the industry at The Packer Market's discussion thread.

Beyond the issue of the drought, Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack gamely tried to push for immigration reform.

At a press conference Feb. 20, he said immigration reform “has to happen.” Agriculture’s instability of its workforce is jeopardizing the U.S. ability to operate at its potential in agriculture. “Farmers are thinking about moving their operations outside of the United States and there is all the other industries are impacted by not having stability (in farm labor). Vilsack said immigration reform will also reduce the deficit and grow the economy, he said.

“If it doesn’t somehow happen, then people are going to make decisions based on that uncertainty and they are going to scale back their operations and that will mean less opportunity, exports and less income.” Vilsack said he was still convinced immigration reform will happen this year.

It is not hopeless, at least. After all, the farm bill was finished, wasn't it?

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