California’s drought could prove devastating to the state’s farmers and ranchers. But the dry spell has brought a gusher of new business to companies that provide them with water.
That much was clear at this year’s World Ag Expo, which kicked off Tuesday in Tulare, a town of 60,000 about 45 miles south of Fresno. At one booth was a well repair company that had to add extra shifts to meet all the agricultural demand for groundwater. Nearby, a firm that provides turbine pumps for wells said orders were coming in so furiously it was running out of parts. And several feet away, a drip irrigation maker said it was taking orders from farmers months ahead of schedule as the prospect of enough rain over the winter appeared remote.
The World Ag Expo is the largest farm equipment show in the world — a three-day extravaganza of high-tech tractors, automated dairy milkers and mechanized tree harvesters on 2.6 million square feet of fertile Central California soil.
But this year, the annual event is also a window into the frantic struggle taking place to keep the world supplied with fruit, nuts and vegetables from the Golden State. Amid what could be one of the worst droughts in California’s recorded history, growers are relying on a host of companies to help them deliver what water remains to their fields.