A feeder canal sits empty off the Delta Mendota Canal after the Federal Bureau of Reclamation instituted a “zero allocation” policy for irrigation water to farmers in Mendota, California, as seen on April 14, 2009. Photographer: Phil Hawkins/Bloomberg News
May 6 (Bloomberg) — The drought in California’s Central Valley is so severe that it’s drying up money for haircuts.
One customer waited six months to get a $10 haircut, then asked to have his head shaved so he could wait another six months, said Armando Ramirez, a barber in Firebaugh.
“People come in and say, ‘Hey Armando, how about I give you a dollar for a cut, it’s all I have,'” said Ramirez, 63, who has owned his shop for four decades. “Saturday is supposed to be my busiest day, but I’m lucky if I get one customer before I go to lunch.”
Businesses are casualties of the three-year drought that is forcing farmers to leave hundreds of thousands of acres fallow in the Central Valley, the semi-arid agricultural region running 400 miles (600 kilometers) down the middle of the state. The drought may cost the valley 35,000 jobs and $959 million in lost revenue this year, said Richard Howitt, chairman of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis.
“I’ve never seen a drought this bad,” said Bob Diedrich, who has been farming near Firebaugh, 140 miles southeast of San Francisco, since 1973. “It’s putting a chokehold on us.”