California Gov. Jerry Brown has issued a second emergency proclamation to help the state come to grips with its ongoing drought problems. The state’s snowpack water content has been measured at just 16% of its long-run average.
In the latest proclamation, the governor has directed state officials to expedite approvals of voluntary water transfers to help the state’s farmers. The governor has also directed the state’s department of fish and wildlife to speed up its monitoring of the drought’s impact on winter-run salmon in the Sacramento River and its tributaries and to start building habitat restoration projects to help the fish get through the low-water conditions.
The drought’s impact on California agriculture is almost certain to push U.S. food prices even higher. Food prices are up around 2% over the last year and rose 0.4% in February and March, according to Consumer Price Index data.
California provides almost half of all U.S. production of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. California is also the country’s leading producer of milk and dairy products, accounting for 18.6% of all dairy products in 2012. The state’s livestock production is third-highest behind only Iowa and Texas.
Brown’s latest proclamation also exempts the state’s forestry and fire protection agency from the requirement for seeking competitive bids when purchasing equipment of fight fires. California’s dry season typically begins in April, and the upcoming wildfire season poses an even greater than usual threat to people’s lives and millions of dollars worth of property.
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