2022 Drought Resources
California is in its third year of drought brought on by a historically dry winter. This is the state's second extreme drought in 10 years. All 58 counties are now under a drought emergency proclamation.
Such conditions pose numerous challenges for small farms.
UCCE Fresno County has compiled a list of programs that can be of assistance to growers during the drought. Please contact the agencies that administer these programs directly to find out more about their requirements.
For regular updates on the California drought, visit California Drought Action.
Many growers have experienced higher electric bills during the drought due to changes in pumping practices. PG&E offers a free rate analysis to determine if changing to a different rate would save money. Call 1-800-468-4743 and ask for the free rate analysis. Have your account number ready. You can also ask for a translator. To compare current rates, check the PG&E website or see the Spreadsheet of PG&E Rates for Small Ag
Resources for agricultural wells that have gone dry:
1. Lowering the pump shaft
This is much less expensive than drilling a new well. If the pump shaft is above the water table, but the well is deeper than the pump shaft, lowering the shaft will bring the pump in contact with the water again.
To find out the depth of a well, fill out a Well Completion Report Request Form from the Department of Water Resources and send it to the contact listed for the South Central Region (for Fresno County or Tulare County).
2. Deepening a domestic well to irrigate a small acreage near a home
The Fresno County Housing Assistance Rehabilitation Program (HARP) provides zero-interest loans to low-income homeowners for home improvements, including deepening domestic wells in rural areas. Growers wishing to irrigate small acreages of land from the domestic well may arrange to cover the cost of additional system requirements such as increased pump horsepower. Contact the HARP program directly for specific requirements.
3. Obtaining a loan to drill a new well or deepen an existing well
USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers microloans of up to $50,000 at low interest rates. Contact the Fresno FSA office at (559) 276-7494 to learn more about microloan requirements.
California Farmlink offers loans from $5,000 to $250,000 that can be used for equipment and infrastructure.
Feed the Hunger Foundation offers loans from $10,000 to $50,000 for California.
Valley Small Business Development Corporation works with other lenders including FSA and offers agricultural and small business loans.