California’s floods may cause food prices to rise

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 7:39 AM CDT
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FREEPORT, Calif. (KMAX/KOVR) - Grocery store prices may rise as storm after storm floods farms across the state.

“California is the leading agricultural state in the United States,” produce expert Michael Marks said.

But now all the rain that has flooded farm fields is becoming a burden to the booming business.

“You cannot get a tractor onto your land when it’s all muddy.” Marks said.

“The longer you delay planting, the longer you’re going to have to wait for those crops in grocery stores,” said Andrew Genasci, executive director of San Joaquin Farm Bureau.

Marks said some farmers in the Salinas Valley have had to restart planting altogether.

“That’s the salad bowl for the United States,” he said.

Marks says the rain has flooded the farms plus nearby cattle ranches, forcing farmers to test the land before planting “because we don’t want any outbreak of salmonella or E coli outbreak later on when those fields come up with things like lettuces and spinach.”

It’s not just greens and veggies being hit. The rain is also knocking off blossoms on fruit trees.

“Little less fruit you’re going to have in the summer time and in the fall time,” Marks said.

And take tomatoes, for example. Marks said California grows 99% of all the tomatoes for processed canned goods.

So pasta and pizza sauces may also be at risk.

“All that’s grown in the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento Valley,” Marks said. “Well, that’s going to cut the supply, and that’s going to impact prices of tomato sauce all the way into next year.”

The solution farmers want to see?

“What we need is storage in California to capture the rain when it’s here for the years when we don’t have the rain,” said Sharron Zoller, state president of California Women For Agriculture.