Modesto Bee Story about the Agricultural Economy
Posted April 20, 2010
If you’ve read many of the stories about water and agriculture in California over the past year or two, you might think that the agricultural economy has tanked. In fact, the opposite is true. Here’s a remarkably upbeat story in the Modesto Bee about the agricultural industry in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Among the highlights is a report that gross farm income doubled from 2000 to 2008.
Make no mistake. Some farmers at the bottom of the water rights seniority system have suffered during the past three dry years. Overall, however, California agriculture remains a strong industry. Even water short farmers have many options to adapt: investing in more efficient irrigation; moving to higher value crops; exploring solar farming; and purchasing supplies from water rich neighbors.
It’s a good thing that agricultural in the Valley remains strong. In the water policy world, environmentalists and agriculture are often at odds. But it’s important to acknowledge that keeping land in agricultural production helps reduce sprawl and greenhouse gas emissions from our cities. Farms can help sequester carbon. And some crops, like rice, and some agricultural areas, like the Delta, provide important wildlife habitat. Frankly, environmentalists don’t express their support for a strong, sustainable agricultural economy often enough. This is one of the reasons NRDC created the Growing Green Awards.
We can maintain a healthy agricultural economy without sacrificing the health of our rivers and our fisheries. To do that, however, we need to separate the wheat from the chaff. This article helps.
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