The “rice capital of California” is now a wasteland


San Francisco Chronicle

Normally, by September, the drive north from Sacramento on Interstate 5 showcases vast stretches of flooded rice fields on both sides, farms bustling with tractors and workers preparing for fall harvest.

Not this year, said Kurt Richter, a third-generation rice farmer in Colusa, the rice capital of California where the local economy relies heavily on agriculture. “It is now just a wasteland,” he said.

As drought endures for a third year with record-breaking temperatures and diminishing water supplies, more than half of California’s rice fields are estimated to be left barren without harvest — about 300,000 out of the 550,000 or so in reported acres, provisional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. This year, rice is estimated to account for just 2% of total planted acres across the state…

The dramatic reduction in rice acreage will translate to lost revenue of an estimated $500 million, about 40% of which will be covered by federal crop insurance, according to UC Davis agricultural economist Aaron Smith.

Insurance only covers set amounts. Surviving the death of your livelihood, what may be the last breath of spirit from generations of working families, can drive folks away from everything that has been root and branch of their whole lives.

One thought on “The “rice capital of California” is now a wasteland

  1. Mike says:

    A new Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation (CMRA) website launched this week is intended to help people visualize how climate change is impacting their communities and to help communities plan for and respond to climate change.
    Climate-related hazards are affecting U.S. communities every day. View real-time statistics and maps documenting where people, property, and infrastructure may be exposed to hazards. Click any hazard to display its associated map and click areas of interest on any map for more information. https://resilience.climate.gov/
    The portal also includes an assessment tool that allows people to enter an address or location and get data about heat, drought, and flooding. The tool includes both high and low emissions scenarios.
    The site also points users to Federal grant funds for climate resilience projects, including those available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

    CMRA was developed in August 2022 as part of an interagency partnership working under the auspices of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and with guidance from the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). The project was funded by the Department of the Interior (DOI) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The site was developed by Esri, working under contract to NOAA. NOAA hosts and manages CMRA. Contributing partners include:
    White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Management and Budget
    U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)
    Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
    U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)
    U.S. Geological Survey
    U.S. Department of Energy
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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