Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland told President Carter yesterday that most agriculture in drought-stricken California is not in serious trouble but without relief it could be next year.
Bergland met with the President yesterday afternoon to report on his tour of California last week. A Bergland spokesman said the Secretary told Carter that because of a two-year drought, California farmers "are drawing drastically on water reserves and unless there is some relief there will be drastic (crop) reductions next year."
Because California is a major source of vegetables and citrus fruits, any widespread drought-related crop losses could set food prices rising. But Bergland told the President, according to the spokesman, that "most of California agriculture is not in serious trouble this year."
However, water tables are being reduced and in some cases have been permanently lowered and thus will not return to normal even if there is rainfall.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported, meanwhile, that despite some rainfall early this month, streamflows remain "well below normal" in most of the Western drought area. The survey said only two of 40 streams measured in 11 drought-stricken states were flowing above normal for mid-April and 25 streams were running at least 50 per cent below normal.
The survey said that the Smith River near Crescent City, Calif., was measured at 66 per cent below the monthly average and that the Sacramento River at Vertna, Calif., was 71 per cent below normal.
Total storage in California's Central Valley reservoirs was less than half the 10-year average, the geological survey said.