A History of Farm Water Use and Crop Production

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Despite the reduced water use, the amount and value of the state's farm production have risen steadily. As the following tables show, California farmers used less water in 1995 than they did in 1967. But they irrigated 8 percent more acreage in 1995, produced 67 percent more crops and generated 467 percent more in agricultural receipts.

Year 1 Agricultural
Applied
Water 2
Crop
Acreage 3
Crop
Production 4
Total
Farm Value 5
1960 28.5 maf 8.4 million 32.7 million tons $3.2 billion
1967 31.2 maf 8.8 million 35.8 million tons $3.9 billion
1972 31.7 maf 9.8 million 43.9 million tons $5.5 billion
1980 35.6 maf 9.9 million 51.3 million tons $13.7 billion
1985 32.9 maf 9.6 million 52.5 million tons $13.9 billion
1990 31.1 maf 9.5 million 57.3 million tons $18.3 billion
1995 30.4 maf 9.5 million 59.7 million tons $22.1 billion


Comparison Years Agricultural Applied
Water
Crop Acreage Crop
Production
Total
Farm Value
1960-1995 +7% +13% +83% +590%
1967-1996 -2.5% +8% +67% +467%
1972-1995 -4% -3% +36% +302%
1980-1995 -15% -4% +16% +61%
1985-1995 -7.6% -1% +14% +59%
1990-1995 -2% 0 +4% +21%

Sources: California Department of Water Resources, California Water Plan; California Department of Food and Agriculture, annual Statistical Reviews.

Notes:
1 Comparison years chosen based on the years documented in California Department of Water Resources Bulletin 160 (California Water Plan) series. Figures for 1995 supplied by DWR from draft of Bulletin 160-98.
2 Different editions in the Bulletin 160 series include figures for agricultural applied water and net water; net water figures are lower because they reflect the fact that some applied water flows into other water sources where it is reused. For example, the net agricultural water demand for 1995 was 26 million acre-feet. But net water use figures weren't available for all the comparison years.
3 Crop acreage includes irrigated acres, including pastureland, and may be inflated because of double-cropping--e.g., if 10 acres are double-cropped, DWR counts that as 20 acres.
4 Crop production includes field crops, fruit and nut crops, and vegetable and melon crops listed in California Department of Food and Agriculture annual statistical summaries.
5 Total farm value includes all farm commodities, including livestock and nursery products not factored into the crop production figure.