California Drought Hits Farmers’ Crops, Consumers’ Wallets

Oct 18, 2022

After two straight years of drought conditions, California’s tomato crop will fall short of projected harvest totals. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that. 

The impact of the shortage is likely to be felt down supply chains. Southern California’s farms are known as “The US Salad Bowl.” The area grows about 30% of the world's supply of tomatoes. The USDA predicts that this year’s record drought will cut the tomato harvest by 10%. In 2021, 12.2 million tonnes of tomatoes were grown. About 10.5 million tonnes are expected to grow. January and February 2022 were the driest start to a year in the state's recorded history.  

"There's just not enough water to grow everything …," the president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture told Reuters.

Rainfall has been at record lows since 2020. Farmers rely on other sources of water too. Those have been hard-hit as well. The Colorado River provides water to farms in Southern California. It hit record low levels this summer. 

"That's our only water source. It's not just about agriculture," said one farmer. "(It’s) killing a community."

Vegetable canners and processors use tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce, ketchup, and soups. They have already begun setting their prices for 2023. They’re paying more, sometimes as much as 50%, to make their product. The higher cost will likely be passed on to those buying the items. Many people are already facing higher grocery prices. Inflation has already caused food prices to go up. 

Photo from Reuters.

According to information in the second paragraph, the US Department of Agriculture predicts that _______. (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. drought will cut next year’s tomato harvest in half
b. canned products such as spaghetti sauce and soups may cost more in 2023
c. drought will cut this years tomato harvest by millions of tonnes
d. rainfall has been historically low in 2023
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