HENRICO (WRIC) - The drought all the way across the country in California is hurting the nation's food supply, and it could get a lot worse.
Friday, the federal government said it not provide any irrigation water to any of the state's 80,000 farms, even though more crops are grown there than any other place in the country. More than 90 percent of the state is in severe drought conditions and there could be a big impact at the grocery store checkout line because of that.
In the Central Virginia area, California produce is sold at Tom Leonard's Farmers Market in Short Pump.
"This is a long term problem. This isn't a short term problem. We don't see the prices going up in the near future but over the long term they might be going up," says owner Tom Leonard.
Experts predict the drought could raise produce prices up to 10 percent over the next few months. The drought affects different crops in different ways. For example, lettuces and strawberries are grown closer to the coasts.
"Then what happens is you get out into the corn, cantaloupe, broccoli, out into the cheaper land, the desert area. They depend a lot more on the weather, those are going to be the ones that are going to be affected," Leonard says.
But there is some good news. With spring around the corner, farmer's markets and grocery stores in our area will soon be able to start selling more locally grown food. During the winter months, that's just not possible because farmers can't grow those crops here.
A spokesperson for Martin's says their West Coast suppliers are calling this a serious situation that they continue to monitor closely. They say at this point, it's too early to predict the exact impact on prices.
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