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California’s Lucrative Almond Industry Threatened by ‘Extensive Water Needs’ During Drought

California’s Lucrative Almond Industry Threatened by ‘Extensive Water Needs’ During Drought

Almond farmers and conservationists are battling over the right way to allocate the state’s water supply during an ongoing drought.

Almond farmers and conservationists are battling over the right way to allocate the state’s water supply during an ongoing drought.

California’s lucrative almond orchards — providing an annual boost of $11 billion to the state economy — are in danger as the state continues to deal with a historic drought, reports The New York Times.

In the past, the state’s almond farmers have supplied their crops with “extensive water needs” through a federally-controlled project, but as water becomes increasingly scarce, it must be diverted to nourish other important resources, like California salmon.

Currently, California farmers account for 80 percent of the world’s almond production, and a few longtime farmers of other crops are choosing to convert a portion of their land to almond fields, which have made some farmers very wealthy. Issues of access to water have pit almond farmers against conservationists and farmers of other crops, all of whom are fighting for attention from Congress.

Almonds “have totally changed the game of water in California,” Antonio Rossmann, a Berkeley lawyer specializing in water issues, told The New York Times. “It’s hardened demand in the Central Valley.”