Bay Area farmers getting concerned about possible drought

California is now on track for one of the driest years on record and that has Bay Area farmers very concerned.
December 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
You know we need rain. Here's how bad it is -- California is now on track for one of the driest years on record. Reservoirs are alarmingly low and farmers are starting to worry. So, should you?

Cattle rancher Tim Koopman honks his horn like a dinner bell for his cattle herd in Sunol. He's been feeding them hay every other day because the drought has left his pastures barren.

"We're lookin at nothing," said Koopman.

Normally he has five to six inches of green grass provided free by Mother Nature.

"We're feeding $500-$600 every other day in hay going out to these cattle," said Koopman.

At that cost, cattle ranchers are selling off large portions of their herds. We could see a glut in the market and lower prices early on, but while ranchers are re-growing their herds and the supply is low, prices could skyrocket.

Looking at Folsom Lake near Sacramento, it's down to nearly 20-percent capacity. People there are being ordered to cut back on water usage and many other reservoirs are below 40 percent.

"People in particular who are in agriculture, I think they're the ones with the biggest concern because they rely on basic rain up front," said Steven Ritchie, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission assistant general manager.

Right now, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir which supplies San Francisco and other parts of the bay is at 70-percent capacity.

"So right now we're not too worried, but we'll see what January, February and March bring," said Ritchie.

Mandatory conservation orders won't be considered until April 1st, but for now we just have to worry about food prices going up.


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