Can California’s Agriculture Survive Extreme Drought? Should It?

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Early spring-like weather brings cooler temperatures to Santa Barbara County's Wine Country as an extreme drought heads into a third year on March 16, 2022, near Santa Ynez, California. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

California is in its third year of extreme drought. Given that, is it time to rethink California’s role as the breadbasket of the country? Agriculture brought in $49.1 billion to the state, nearly half of which was money made from exporting crops. But agriculture also uses 80% of the state’s water. Last year the industry lost 87,000 jobs, and crop land totaling an area bigger than Los Angeles went unplanted. What crops are reasonable to continue to produce? What should be jettisoned? And what crops and farm practices can be adaptable enough for the dwindling water supply? We’ll talk about the future of agriculture with experts and a farmer in the Central Valley.


Joe Del Bosque, CEO, Del Bosque Farms in the San Joaquin Valley

Tom Philpott, food and ag correspondent, Mother Jones. He's also the author of "Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It"

Ellen Hanak, vice president and director of the PPIC Water Policy Center and a senior fellow, Public Policy Institute of California