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California drought could deepen farmers' financial woes

Breaking ground and raising crops on the family farm is a source of pride for many people in California. The mild climate in the state has long been viewed as the perfect setting to grow produce that is distributed across the fruited plain. One thing, however, that farmers depend on is water. So far this year, water has been in very short supply.

According to reports from the Washington Post, 2013 is the driest year on record in California -- and prospects for 2014 aren't much better. Already, the governor declared a drought emergency and many traditional sources of water for agriculture may not be available. With a limited supply of water, farmers will not be able to grow as much. Of course, this will directly cut into revenue.

As revenue declines, family farmers may experience severe difficulty being able to keep up with regular expenses. Talk of debt relief might enter the picture if farmers don't find substantive relief from the drought.

For those looking to ease debt as a result of the drought, Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be a viable option. In order to qualify for this legal process, a person must have some source of income. By creating a plan to repay creditors over time, financially distressed individuals and families can hopefully find the way to a more sound financial footing.

The Washington Post report goes further to point out that the impact of the drought isn't limited to farmers. As crops are planted on fewer acres, this means that work won't be as plentiful in prime growing regions. Without a source of income, those who work on farms will not be able to patronize local businesses. This shows how widespread the financial stress could be as the result of another dry year.

Of course, the hope is that the drought will come to an end. At the same time, those who are struggling with debt should know that they have options available if the need arises.

Source: The Washington Post, "California drought hits farmers hardest," Lenny Bernstein, Feb. 9, 2014

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