While the Great Depression affected almost all sectors of the United States economy, the farming industry, which employed nearly a quarter of the country’s population, was hit particularly hard. In response, one of the first laws passed by the Roosevelt Administration was the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 (AAA). Although it had good intentions at the time, the AAA has largely devolved into direct handouts to farmers, overwhelmingly incentivizing the production of only five crops: corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice.
While government subsidies persist, the agriculture industry has changed drastically. Despite representing only 10% of incentive recipients, large corporations now control much of the farming industry and receive almost 66% of subsidy dollars.
The water scarcity crisis in the American West is an imminent threat that directly affects more than 78 million people. As climate change unleashes its devastating impacts, the local groundwater supply is drying up and creating optimal conditions for droughts, wildfires, and desertification. Although California Governor Gavin Newsom has not yet ordered statewide water restrictions, many local municipalities have instated limitations on water usage guidelines. These restrictions prevent the non-essential use of water, such as washing a car, landscape irrigation, and drawn-out showers. As California residents have had their water usage restricted and their lives threatened by wildfires and droughts, local governments must turn their heads to an industry that has continued to use exorbitant amounts of water to cultivate their crops: the almond industry.