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The spotlight is on agriculture this month

March 14, 2002|STAFF REPORT

California, the most populous state in the nation, also is its most productive agricultural producer with more than $27 billion in annual production.

Imperial County residents benefit from this agricultural bounty every day in affordable, high-quality food and fiber. The agricultural industry is being honored March 17-23 during National Agriculture Week and on National Agricultural Day, March 20.

"Farmers and ranchers are proud to deliver food and other agricultural products to consumers," said Imperial County Farm Bureau President Mike Cox. "Most people don't know a farmer, but everyone has a connection to the land and to the men and women in agriculture. This is an important time of year to pause and reflect on the importance of agriculture to our lives and to our community."

Imperial County farmers and ranchers make a valuable contribution to the state's agricultural industry with $920 million in agricultural production, ranking Imperial County on the list of leading farm counties. Top commodities in Imperial County are cattle, alfalfa, lettuce, carrots and sugar beets.


"Besides producing more than 250 different commodities, California farmers care for the environment and wisely manage the state's natural resources," said Steve Pastor, executive director of the Imperial County Fair Bureau and Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association.

Water is a precious commodity and farmers take steps to use it efficiently. They have invested more than $1 billion in new irrigation technology and water-conserving products since 1975, a press release states.

"In the last 30 years, agriculture's share of water has remained constant, but farmers and ranchers have boosted production on a tonnage basis 67 percent during the same period," said Pastor.

"Water is conserved every year, not just in times of drought. Farmers are good stewards of the land and take pride in conserving water supplies and in providing habitat for wildlife."

Farmers and ranchers care for the land in many ways, from sustainable forestry practices to sound and safe pest management programs and grazing programs. In addition to their environmental benefits, farmers and ranchers contribute to the state's economy.

A University of California study concludes that farmers generate about $59 billion in personal income for Californians of 6.6 percent of the state's annual personal income. California agriculture also contributes 1.1 million jobs to the state, about 7 percent of the total, according to a press release.

The Farm Bureau is California's largest farm organization with more than 95,000 members in 56 countries.

>> Information for this article was provided by the California Farm Bureau Federation

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