UC Merced drought report estimates $1.2B impact to California ag in 2022

An aerial view of a reservoir in Central California, showing water far below the usual levels indicated by a ring of evergreen trees.

CITRIS principal investigators and UC Merced professors Josué Medellín-Azuara and Joshua Viers, who is also the director of CITRIS at UC Merced, are co-authors on a report on the impact of the 2020–22 California drought.

The report estimates direct economic impacts on farm activity of $1.2 billion for 2022. This was up from $810 million for 2021.

Beyond direct farm effects, impacts on food processing industries that rely on farm products were roughly $845 million in 2022, up from $590 million in 2021. Altogether these consequences total $2 billion in value-added losses this year alone and a loss of more than 19,000 jobs, the researchers calculated.

“We need to more fully invest in building climate resilience in our rural, agriculture-dependent communities as they are on the front lines of climate impacts to their economic base,” Viers said.