State of the Farm and Water Report for California; “It’s Just Not There.”
Monday, February 24, 2014
For What It’s Worth…
(I live in the North Counties of Northern California and manage a small Biodynamic farm forgoing a previous existence as a research analyst on Wall Street and owner of a small investment boutique firm for over two decades.)
Farmers throughout California are dramatically cutting way back on how much food they will grow this year. We know this because initial bulk seed orders are way down as the seed ordering season hits it peak. Just released news about severe water cuts by the Federal government to California farmlands will mean further cuts to their planting schedules.
Livestock is being culled much earlier as cattle ranchers seek to dramatically reduce cost by purging now ever-growing expensive inventory. Two weeks previous, the largest beef recall in history, covering some 9 million pounds of beef, occurred at the largest processing plant in the North Bay Area. The beef had already been distributed across the country. Walmart and other stores are removing all brands like “Pocket Pizza” from shelves across the country while the FDA remains silent about the cause of this mass recall. The recall covers the entire past year of supply to stores from this one slaughterhouse which means the unidentified problem with the beef has largely already been consumed.
Yesterday, February 21, 2014, the Federal government just announced that the water is “not there” and water rights to Central Valley farmers are being cut by a minimum of 60%. Some farms will be told there is no water coming. This breaks a long standing 45-year contractual obligation by the Fed’s to bottom line, net-net, agree to supply a minimum of 60% water allocation to CA farms. Now the most farmers can hope for is a 60% reduction in water allocation. Or worse.
California is the largest agricultural supplier for the nation.
The financial markets are well aware of the current outlook and are bidding up future commodity prices further which puts continued upward pressure on meat, water and produce pricing faster than if it was a simple supply/demand equation.