Higher Prices Are Ahead, With Drought Cutting Tomato Supply

Agriculture Department cuts production forecast
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2022 6:50 PM CDT
California's Drought Limits Tomato Production, Ups Prices
A mechanical harvester picks tomatoes near Five Points, Calif., in 2013.   (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka, File)

California farmers who grow tomatoes are being squeezed by the drought and other factors, which means prices at grocery stores are only going up. In the central part of the state, low levels of rain and snow are being felt, and the limits on water from the Colorado River are affecting the south, Reuters reports. Prices are high, but production is falling. One farmer near Firegaugh said he decided to plant only one-fourth of his 2,000 acres. "I don't think farming in California has ever been more complex and more challenging, and the drought is a large part of that," said Aaron Barcellos. The US Department of Agriculture cut its forecast for California's tomato production in 2022 by 10% in August.

So farmers are getting high prices not only for tomatoes, but for onions and garlic. "What you're seeing harvested this summer, that really hasn't even hit the grocery shelf, is a 25% increase in the cost of the product to the processors—the canners, the buyers downstream," said Don Cameron, president of the state's State Board of Food and Agriculture. Studies show the main reason for the difficulty is the first human-driven regional drought on record, per Axios. "There's just not enough water to grow everything that we normally grow," said Cameron. (Read more California drought stories.)

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