HARD TIMES

Second Dust Bowl?

As if the Golden State didn't have enough on its plate, a severe drought is deepening California's dire economic woes. The mayor of Mendota, a farming town facing a ballooning 35 percent unemployment rate, says his agricultural community "is dying on the vine." An agriculture expert estimates that 60,000 to 80,000 jobs could be lost —and that as much as $2.2 billion in crop and other losses could come as a result of the drought, which he called the worst in at least three decades. "Everyone's trying to go down fighting," a Central Valley spokeswoman said. "But there will be significant companies that will go out of business, as well as families that have been farming for generations, if it doesn't get better."