According to NOAA, 34% of the contiguous U.S. falls into the moderate to extreme drought categories, with nearly 20% listed as severe to extreme drought. In California, three consecutive dry years has devastated reservoirs which are at half-capacity and dropping.
The impact on California residents, farmers, and food producers is staggering. 600,000 acres of farmland will not receive water, more than 450,000 acres lay fallow, and the water table is dropping.
The drought has hit Hmong farmers in the Central Valley especially hard, both financially and psychologically. With their irrigation water completely depleted, unable to keep growing their crops and feeding their families, some are contemplating suicide.
To say the State is in crisis is not an exaggeration. What is happening to Hmong farmers now is just the beginning of a trend — they are among the first to be affected to such a degree, but they are not the only farmers to feel the burden of drought, nor will they be the last.
For those not experiencing the crisis, we must be reminded that it is not just California’s $44.7 billion agricultural products at stake. This drought is threatening the livelihoods and lives of our producers — and our question must be, how will we respond in this time of severe crisis?
How we act in crisis is one of the best indicators of our values and priorities. We must support these farmers and farming communities NOW, and set a positive and constructive model for future emergency responses that will no doubt be necessary as wells continue to go dry.
Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is visiting Fresno, California to announce additional funds to help rural communities in this time of drought, and to talk with community leaders about what needs to be done.
As CFJC and critical Fresno partners are in meetings to discuss viable, lasting, and immediate solutions with USDA — we the public have the opportunity to support.
We are engaging in a twitterstorm all day Today, to call on our government for immediate emergency action.
Join us! We have provided sample tweets below.
The Rural Coalition, our partner in DC, sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack yesterday, calling for action and outlining solutions. We have provided a Bitly link of the letter below, and encourage you to forward on to your contacts to bring awareness to the severity of the drought for our CA communities, and soon, for communities across the country.
Rural Coalition letter: http://bit.ly/1tdQLcL
Sample tweets to legislators and electeds:
Sample tweets to engage others in the twitterstorm: