Farmer Concerns About Water, Wildfire Risk
As many crops head into the growing season, two big concerns on the minds of a lot of California growers are water availability and wildfire risk.
Farmers in the Klamath Basin expect to receive a water allocation this week from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation—and all indications point to extreme shortage. Drought and regulations protecting fish species mean farmers may have little or no water from the federal Klamath Project. A leading farmer in the basin says this second dry year, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, will have a “compounding effect” that will hit the community hard.
As grapevines along the North Coast begin pushing out new growth, farmers face the prospects of preparing for drought while trying to recover from wildfire. Farmers say they may have to reduce crops on some vines due to lack of rainfall, which one Napa County grower says would be a “bitter pill” after losing grapes to smoke exposure last year. Preseason work by farmers includes creating buffer zones to reduce the chance of wildfire spreading into vineyards.
With California farmers and ranchers finding increasing difficulty in purchasing wildfire insurance, the state insurance commissioner directed insurance companies Tuesday to provide data about the availability of commercial coverage for businesses including farms and ranches. The California Farm Bureau welcomed the action, saying it hoped the request from Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara will lead to more sustainable coverage for farmers and ranchers.
(Source: California Farm Bureau Federation)