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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

After four years of devastating drought, the spirits of California farmers and ranchers have been lifted by recent rain and snow events.

Many news report have attributed the increased precipitation to the El Nino weather pattern. But California Farm Bureau president Paul Wenger, who grows almonds and walnuts in Modesto, says El Nino is just getting started.

"The last El Nino we had was 1998 and it didn't start until the second week of January," Wenger says. "Our December this year was very good. A lot meteorologists say this really wasn't El Nino yet. We had as much precipitation this December as we had the last three Decembers combined."

Wenger tells Brownfield the increased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is also encouraging.

"We're in a good place right now. We've got some good snowpack starting to develop. It's very wet snow-they call it Sierra Cement," he says. "But we're hoping that January-February-March are very, very wet months, that we continue to add to that snowpack, and we get some rain as well."

The latest Drought Monitor report, dated January 12th, shows 69 percent of California is still in Extreme or Exceptional drought-a slight improvement from 71 percent in mid-October. One year ago, that figure was 78 percent.

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