Demand for Water, Sheep, and Beef
Water scarcity continues to be the story all around California agriculture in recent months. Here are a few updates courtesy of the California Farm Bureau Federation.
Canals that stay dry due to drought may be more prone to cracking, intensifying calls for federal and state investment in water facilities. Water district officials say the drought and resulting water shortages have further exposed weaknesses in water systems. A national coalition has urged U.S. Senate leaders to boost funding for water facilities in any infrastructure package, while the state Legislature also considers water investments.
Pastures have dried out much earlier than usual, leaving California sheep ranchers having to decide how to sustain their operations. Many have thinned flocks by selling lambs early. Ranchers who offer targeted-grazing services to reduce wildfire fuel say demand for their services has surged. But all ranchers say an impending state overtime rule for sheepherders threatens to undermine the entire sheep business.
The economic reopening of the country appears to be contributing to strong demand for beef. An American Farm Bureau economist says restaurants and other food-service establishments have been trying to secure beef supplies in anticipation of pent-up demand. Grocery stores are also competing for beef supplies, because as more people cooked at home during the pandemic, they may have become more comfortable in preparing different cuts of meat.
(Source: California Farm Bureau Federation)