The Governor of California today declared a state of emergency for Riverside County because of $4 million in crop damages caused by a severe drought.
As a result of the emergency, Governor Schwarzenegger directed the Office of Emergency Services to start drilling water wells or modify existing wells in the county.
The Los Angeles Times published an article about this today, even citing poor farming conditions here in Menifee...
For the first time in almost a century, the Menifee farm owned by Mike Bouris' family did not plant a wheat crop this year. Last month, the family decided to stop farming for good.
Bouris said the affect of the drought really hit home last month when he auctioned off his farm equipment.
"I had to sell things for less than 50 cents on the dollar, and that rang home more than anything," said Bouris, whose family farm had planted wheat the previous 85 years.
Read the rest of the article from the LA Times here...
The kind of farming at stake here isn't necessarily the same as irrigation-based farming like that in the Coachella Valley or Imperial Valley. Rather, these are crops that rely on rainfall, mostly wheat destined to feed sheep and cattle.
I'm not sure that wheat farming in Menifee has much of a future anyways. I imagine there are still other places where such farming is expected to continue for years; I just don't know where those places are. I'm no farmer, but it seems to me that the $4 million dollar loss is just a teenie-weenie amount in California's overall farming economy.
But that doesn't make the drought any less severe. To me, the real concern is the Colorado River. Earlier this month, we reported that the water carried by the Colorado is now half of what it used to be just five years ago. This is where most of our usable water comes from, at least here in Riverside County.
As for the Bouris family of Menifee, and other farmers in south west Riverside County, I sympathize for them and wish them well. I think that wheat farming on this half of Riverside County is destined to die anyways. We need the land for urban sprawl. There's way too many immigrants coming here and not enough homes to house them all. I guess you could also argue that we should stop the immigration, but then again that's another topic of discussion.