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California Drought Leaving Rice Farmers Dry

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COLUSA, Calif.—Rick Richter has spent the past 43 years flying biplanes over California’s Sacramento Valley, dropping rice seeds into vast, flooded fields that churn out grain for consumers across the globe.

In a typical year, Mr. Richter’s company seeds 42,000 acres of rice, earning more than $3 million in revenue. This year, as a worsening drought prompts unprecedented cuts in water allocations to rice farms, he has seeded just 7,000 acres and expects sales of $550,000.

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