North State gets rain, but experts say its not enough

Feb 7, 2014 6:31 PM

The North State finally got some rain. But agriculture experts say it’s not nearly enough to make up for the damage caused by this year's drought.

“Usually, in Chico, were up to about 18 inches,” said Richard Price, Butte County Agricultural Commissioner. “And we’re barely getting to four inches right now.”

Price has been the Butte County Agricultural Commissioner for nearly three decades and he's never seen a drought like this.

“It’s the worst we've seen,” he said. “The worse we've seen since we started keeping records for rainfall and snowfall for at least the past 60 years.”

And the lack of rain is ultimately going to mean a lack of income for many local farmers. Price says local rice growers are going to lose up $150 million; tree farmers are looking at stressed crops and big losses; but the hardest hit: cattle ranchers.

“They’re hurting bad,” Price said of local cattle ranchers. “And the problem with livestock is if you can’t carry them you sell them and then you don’t have any replacement calves for next year to replenish the herds.”

Even with the recent showers, the North State is only at 20 percent of its normal rainfall and only 12 percent of its normal snowfall.

“We need snow more than we do rain,” Price said. “Rain will run off. Sure it will collect in reservoirs but later in the season, when you have to do the irrigation, you need to have that snow melt off.”


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