#1 Drought Culprit: Animal Agriculture

While Californians are told to take shorter showers and stop watering their lawns, the worst offender of water consumption remains unregulated.

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The California drought is a serious problem, and more and more people are catching on to what’s really causing the mass water shortage. Anti-drought campaigns point to culprits like long showers and over-watering lawns, but the worst offender is actually animal agriculture. Research has found that factory farms use at least 47 percent of California’s agricultural water consumption. To combat the growing crisis, California governor Jerry Brown ordered water consumption be reduced by 25 percent—yet exempt farms from the mandate. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesperson Tracy Reiman, “It’s irresponsible to restrict water to local homes, businesses, and schools while allowing its free flow to the water-intensive production chains of the meat and dairy industries.” Reiman acknowledges that water thirsty plant crops such as alfalfa are also an issue, but says those crops are contributing to the livestock and dairy industry since they are used to feed cattle.