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4/20/2014 6:00:00 AM
California drought expected to hit shoppers' wallets
Because of supply issues, produce prices may increase.
Because of supply issues, produce prices may increase.

Ryan Abella
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - California's ongoing, record-breaking drought is expected to have a significant effect on produce prices in the near future.

According to a study conducted by Timothy Richards, a professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, grocery shoppers across the country "can expect to see a short supply of certain fruits and vegetables in stores and to pay higher prices for those items."

"You're probably going to see the biggest produce price increases on avocados, berries, broccoli, grapes, lettuce, melons, peppers, tomatoes and packaged salads," said Richards in a written statement.

"We can expect to see the biggest percentage jumps in prices for avocados and lettuce - 28 percent and 34 percent, respectively. People are the least price-sensitive when it comes to those items, and they're more willing to pay what it takes to get them."

Wendy Fink-Weber, senior director of communications at Western Growers, said that crop yields are not fully estimated until it is time for harvest.

"The harvests follow the sun. They start in winter in Arizona and, by April, they are making their way up to Bakersfield and into the Central Valley," she said.

"This year our farmers have fallowed 800,000 acres. Most of those fallowed farms are almond and pistachio crops. Less water for these crops means smaller almonds and pistachios."

Fink-Weber also said that grocers set the prices of produce, not the farmers. If domestic supplies are low, grocers will turn to foreign imports to meet demand.

As of April 15, California had drought conditions in 99.8 percent of the state, with 68.8 percent of the state in extreme drought conditions or worse. Last year was the driest year on record, with a yearly precipitation average of 7 inches. The second-driest year was in 1898, which had a yearly precipitation average of 11.6 inches.

California Gov. Edmund Brown declared a state of emergency Jan. 17 in response to the record dry year.

The declaration directs state agencies to use less water, greatly expands public water conservation campaigns, gives state water officials more flexibility to manage supply and helps accelerate funding and aid to farmers who need the water for crop.

The California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014 recently passed the House of Representatives and has been introduced in the Senate.

The bill would give agencies more flexibility on using water held back for reservoirs and other environmental reasons.

California was responsible for 34 percent of the United States' vegetable production and 48.7 percent of the United States' fruit production in 2012. The agriculture industry of California produces $18.8 billion worth of commodities, making up 13.3 percent of all agriculture in the United States.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"all for a absolutely useless imported 2 1/2 inch fish."

Funny, in the past you have claimed the reservoirs are down because of illegal immigrants. I guess you like this conspiracy theory better these days. Please be sure to deny you ever said it so i can embarrass you with quotes from the archives.

LOL


Posted: Monday, April 21, 2014
Article comment by: Inflation Nation

Prices must rise because everything else is rising. The materials to grow the food and workers to pick it or machinery costs. Fuel to ship the food, truck maintenance and labor. Soon the gap between the elite and the poor will reach a point where the common citizen has to make hard choices on how to feed his family. In order to disarm the citizens or enforce arrests of gun owning individuals or family's they will need overwhelming force. If it gets that bad the police throughout the country will use that armored assault vehicle that was given just recently. Read about it in the miner.

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: R .

@ Edward Tomchin- Well thank you for the geography and agricultural lessons. At any rate, I can say that I have NEVER seen a label on an avocado that said "Ventura County, California." I shop at either Smith's or Walmart in Kingman and all the avocado labels indicate Mexico. Just because my experience is different from your supposed experience doesn't make you correct.



Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

Really? I eat avocados all the time and I buy them at the local stores. They all come from Ventura County, California, which is one of the largest avocado growing counties in the country.

Maybe you're just shopping when California avocados are out of season, or perhaps you should stop shopping in Tijuana.


Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: L J

The comment by R is an excellent point & true! As for Nother Goodwitch comments it's not at all surprising that this activity is going on. Why haven't the BOS issued an Cease & Desist order until the May 5th. meeting?
Until shown different, I believe there must be more going on here than we'll ever be told. I find it odd that we haven't
heard one word from our elected officials regarding this issue?


Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: R .

That's funny, I've never seen an avocado in the stores here that didn't have a "Mexico" sticker on it...so how is California's drought affecting this?

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: Nother Goodwitch

Regarding your comment The Fox Hound, I agree. Living near Red Lake we see Mr. Rhodes latest "farming" venture growing with wells being drilled all day and night, huge trucks hauling 24" pipe arriving daily and what was rumored to be, eventually, 300 wells. In spite of the fact that, according to our investigation, at least two of the 800' well reports are stamped "ILLEGAL WELL" (water was found at around 300", but went to 800'!) Yes, he is drilling and capping these wells, which are applied for within current legal procedures, but all those wells for a "drip water system" to grow alfalfa in a dry lakebed?? Yes, It's ultimately all about the water, and the power that his control of it will ultimately mean for this man.

According to my inquiry with the state offices in charge of the AZ Water issues, this whole situation will be addressed along with the matter of Mr. Rhodes and his dubious practices at the County meeting on May 5th. Sad to say, it appears that he's hustling to get as many wells drilled and capped before they put the brakes on his project.


Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

I've news for you Ryan. The drought is not just in California. It's all over the entire Southwest and we're all going to suffer as a result. California's main contribution to this pain is due to the fact that it grows and produces a vast majority of our food.

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: pl .....

yeah, well, they drained those reservoirs which would have got California through years of drought, all for an absolutely useless, imported 21/2 inch fish. So let's all get together and cry - no more pesticide-laden Monsanto crops from California for a while, unless the 25% of Americans who feast on worm filler & cow eyeballs (known to most of you as Big Macs) at Mickey D's each week divert more money to $$afeway & China Mart.

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

I don't know what all the fuss is about if California needs water all they need to do is ask Big Jim Rhodes for some, I'm sure he would sell them some. Yeah that's the ticket we can build a pipeline from Golden Valley to California I'm pretty sure its all down hill from here. Our local and state politicians seem to think we all the water we need or they certainly wouldn't have let Big Jim use our water for growing cattle feed.



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