California’s largest agricultural region faces a daunting challenge.
As farmers reduce groundwater use under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the footprint of irrigated agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley will need to shrink. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that at least 500,000 acres of farmland will likely have to go out of production over the next two decades.
Fallow land can lead to a number of problems, including loss of employment for agricultural workers in the valley and loss of income for landowners and local government. It could also worsen airborne dust problems in a region that already suffers from the worst air quality in the country. And pests and weeds could be a nuisance on plots still in production.