Calif. farmers in ‘dire straits’ as drought rages on

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click image to zoomDrought MonitorThe Drought Monitor Map, released on Feb. 13, 2014. Central California was inundated with its first significant storm since Oct. 1, and though welcomed, the rain was a reprieve – not a cure – from the drought.

In Thursday’s “Drought Monitor” report, nearly 10 percent of the state is in exceptional drought, the highest level reported.

The return of the rain helped pushed around 6 percent of the state from extreme to severe drought, but even with this improvement, 95 percent of California remains in moderate or worse drought.  Click here to see the full map.

Reservoirs throughout the state are holding well below capacity typical for this time of year. Gov. Jerry Brown issued a drought emergency in mid-January.

"The bottom line is that this storm is not going to end California's drought," Nancy Vogel, spokeswoman for the state Department of Water Resources, told the San Francisco (Calif.) Gate.  "Statewide, we still have a long way to go to catch up."

Concerns surrounding California’s drought have spread into Washington. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, traveled to California in late January to propose emergency legislation aimed at drought relief. On Friday, President Barack Obama will make his first trip to the central San Joaquin Valley to discuss the drought.

The effects of the drought will soon reach beyond the state’s farmers and ranchers. TJ Johnson, adjunct faculty member at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., warns that consumers should prepare to see their grocery bills climb, according to The Olympian in an article here.  

“California farmers are in dire straits,” Johnson told The Olympian. “We, as consumers, need to expect higher food prices.”

Farmers and ranchers across the state have turned to a higher power to help bring relief. Some, such as rancher Nathan Carver are left praying for rain.  Catholic bishops have also stepped in to help, asking people of all faiths to join in prayer for rain. In a news release, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops offered sample prayers for those interested in praying for rain.

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