[LA FEATURE]Running Dry

LA FEATURE

Drought-stricken California communities face a third-consecutive dry year with no relief in sight

The Drought's Effect on Your Grocery Trip

Some SoCal farmers are feeling the pinch from the state's parched landscape, and they predict the drought's effect on costs will roll over to consumers

By Liberty Zabala
|  Monday, Feb 24, 2014  |  Updated 11:44 AM PDT
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The Drought's Effect on Your Grocery Trip

NBC Bay Area

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At a Southern California farmers market, farmers across the board say they are feeling the pinch from the drought.

One farmer worries if this drought continues into next year, he could go out of business.

San Diego farmer Phil Noble prides himself on grass-fed beef. However, no rain and little water for his pastures means no food for his cattle.

“The cost of feeding our animals has gone up significantly,” Noble said. “As a matter of fact, we had to sell of part of our herd."

His farm operates off wells, but he says he's already lost half of his water supply in the past six months.

“We're actually moving our whole farm to where we have more water," he said.

Noble says the costs may trickle down to consumers at the grocery store.

“Probably looking at about a 25 percent increase in beef cost and vegetables. We're going to try not to raise our price on our vegetables, but if we have to, I would expect a 20 percent increase,” he said.

The water crisis is most profound in Central California where farmers are getting little to no water.

“Many of them are getting cut back 50 percent or more. All the vegetables grown in the Central Valley. So that will have a dramatic effect on the price of lettuce in the store, dramatic effect on the price of broccoli asparagus, other cut vegetables,” said Mark Larson, assistant manager of the Hillcrest Farmers Market in San Diego.

As a result, farmers predict even restaurants could cut back.

"If avocado prices double, you can definitely see that price of your guacamole or your taco go up,” Larson said. “Some items may not be on the menu if they're too expensive."
Some customers say we need to focus more on conservation.

"With the drought happening, I think we'll be more informed about how we can take care of the environment,” shopper Damon Brown said. “We have a kind of a separation between what we eat and where it actually comes from so maybe that will make us a little more thoughtful."

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