‘It’s a disaster’: Drought dramatically shrinking California farmland, costing $1.7 billion

Rice farmer Don Bransford walks past a dry ditch on May 4 that usually brings water to his 1,800 acres of rice fields near Williams, California. This year he is not growing any rice because of limited water in the drought. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee/TNS)

In the fall, rice fields in the Sacramento Valley usually shine golden brown as they await harvesting. This year, however, many fields were left covered with bare dirt.