The rising cost of fuel and petroleum-based products have undoubtedly taken a toll on local agricultural production for more years than anyone would like to remember, but despite the higher costs of doing business, the local farm economy seems to be returning to form.
That’s a wonderful thing for all involved. While much of the Valley’s economy has diversified just enough over the last decade-plus to include the government sector as a heavy-hitter, it is still agriculture that makes our local world go ’round, and that will remain true for many years to come.
Ag provides money and jobs into the economy, and like other economic sectors, that money and those jobs cycle in the community many times over, paying dividends into retail, housing and other sectors.
So to assume a healthy farm economy only benefits a few, is patently untrue. It helps us all.
Last week, the Imperial County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office released the 2010 crop and livestock report, which showed a 10 percent overall increase from the previous year, from $1.45 billion to $1.6 billion. Still, we haven’t quite achieved those 2008 numbers of $1.68 billion, but the county and its farmers and ranchers are well on the way.
Ultimately, in an economic climate that leaves much to be desired and is still deep in recovery mode, the increase portends to bigger and better things on the horizon. Like one ag advocate intimated last week, the net effect might not be as dazzling as the gross dollar earned by the industry, we can’t help but to see any signs of an upswing as good signs period.
In a larger sense, though, we see some really positive trends here as certain crops move higher among the top commodity rankings. Cantaloupes for one, show that a decade of whitefly damage on the fall harvest may have very well been overcome.
That Imperial County continues to lead the nation in crops like alfalfa and Sudan grass hay is coming on strong again all speak to the continued strength and in some cases cyclical resilience of local farming.
What this all comes down to, though, is history. The Imperial Valley was founded on agriculture, it has prospered on agriculture, and when times have been at their toughest, as they arguably are now, agriculture has proved to be a saving grace.
Where ag goes, so does the Valley, and when the Valley booms again, ag will be there with us.
The 2010 agriculture report.
The ag industry appears to be on the upswing despite economic factors.
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