As California braces for record drought, ranchers are among the most immediately impacted, and most say they are not ready for the severe water shortages and lack of forage that drought would bring,
In 2013, California experienced its driest year on record, and the state’s current snowpack is just 17 percent of average. As a result, the state government and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have declared drought emergencies for California.
A statewide drought, such as the one that occurred from 1976 to 1977, would today exacerbate the effects of earlier regional droughts, according to many of the ranchers who responded to the UC Davis survey. With already conservative numbers of cattle in their herds, ranchers must now consider culling their herds to stay afloat as production costs rise.