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Old 09-29-2011, 11:25 PM
 
Location: Bryte, CA
1,966 posts, read 2,707,211 times
Reputation: 1311
Quote:
Originally Posted by esmith143 View Post
Farming is associated with poverty because farmers are among the few people in this country who compete directly with farmers from third-world countries, where wages are much lower and conditions for agriculture are better.

Central Valley is a semi-desert. It is very difficult to justify economically any kind of agriculture in Central Valley, when water has to be pumped at high cost over great distances. California specializes in a few select industries where some kind of competitive advantage can be had, such as wine grapes, because of their relatively high market value and low water requirements, or milk, which is consumed domestically, because you can't bring milk from China. But most types of produce simply don't make sense here. It costs pennies per pound to transport agricultural produce from China in a container ship. Just the cost of irrigation in southern Central Valley will contribute upwards of 25c/pound to the cost of most kinds of fruit and vegetables.

And so our agriculture survives on razor thin profit margins, some degree of mechanization, healthy government subsidies, and illegal migrant workers. In many cases, the choice is between hiring illegal migrants and going bust.

For example, why is it that Central Valley does not produce potatoes? One acre of potato field will produce around $1200 worth of potatoes at the typical yield and wholesale price today (call it 15,000 lbs/acre at $0.08/lb). These prices are essentially set by the three largest worldwide producers of potatoes - China, India and Russia.

But it will cost you $1800 to grow those potatoes, even if you do it in the Imperial Valley (which is canal-irrigated and therefore water is almost free) and you pay the minimum wage to all your workers.

http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/files/potatoes.pdf

Move to Bakersfield, and suddenly just the water bill for 5 acre-feet of water needed to grow those potatoes is $2500.

Therefore potatoes are out, and a lot of other plants are out too, and it is only on rare occasions that you can actually afford to grow something here. And even if you do, you certainly can't afford to pay much more than the minimum wage to your workers.
Competition is a very recent thing. Poverty existed in the San Joaquin Valley from day one. Mediterranean climates and adjacent climates are the best for agriculture. Around the world they share the same issue with seasonal aridity. You are incorrect on the economics of it. Although water isn't cheap we get a huge positive return for the investment. Are you even aware of where California ranks nationally or globally in agriculture? First nationally, fifth or sixth globally. Several of our counties (Fresno, Monterey) produce more than most countries.

Potatoes aren't grown here because there are too many crops worth much more than potatoes. Potatoes don't require optimal conditions, so they are grown in areas where conditions (soil or climate) make it more expensive to grow other crops.

I really don't see much imported produce. I've seen moldy garlic from China. I see tomatoes from Mexico during the winter. They are relatively anemic looking and tasteless. The only produce I've seen from other countries that has been worth anything are the various off-season fruits from Chile.

But seriously, your post makes it appear as if you have some issue with the agricultural sector. If it was so expensive and didn't make economic sense California wouldn't have the volume of agricultural exports that we do.
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:19 AM
 
176 posts, read 232,336 times
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Because Central Valley (California) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
and probably because they don't have enough Macy's
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:57 AM
 
Location: Escondido, CA
1,504 posts, read 3,602,331 times
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Quote:
Are you even aware of where California ranks nationally or globally in agriculture? First nationally, fifth or sixth globally.
Like I said, wine grapes and milk. (And farm-raised beef. The smell of industrial-size cow farms off I-5 in Coalinga is unforgettable. The economics of farm-raised meat is different from the economics of things that you need to grow in the ground. And a few other crops, such as almonds, where CA controls the market because no one else in the world is seriously involved in their production.)

California produced a lot of everything 50 years ago, when water was cheap and container ships were expensive. And even then the most common crop south of San Francisco was oranges, which do require warm Mediterranean climate, but don't require that much irrigation. Since then, Los Angeles metro quadrupled in size, and orange groves were replaced with suburbia. Today CA agricultural output is flat or trending down in most fields, just as Chinese agricultural output keeps growing 10% to 20%/year. China overtook California in orange production in 2004 and it is on track to overtake Florida in a few years. It really hard to compete with a billion peasants who work for the equivalent of $100/month, year-round warm climate and abundant precipitation that exceeds 30 inches/year across most of Southern China.

Last edited by esmith143; 09-30-2011 at 01:31 AM..
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Old 09-30-2011, 07:27 AM
 
Location: San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties
6,390 posts, read 3,260,227 times
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ES, you are generally accurate in your posts, but this ag thing whacked you.

Just one small part;
Quote:
And so our agriculture survives on razor thin profit margins, some degree of mechanization, healthy government subsidies, and illegal migrant workers. In many cases, the choice is between hiring illegal migrants and going bust.

For example, why is it that Central Valley does not produce potatoes? One acre of potato field will produce around $1200 worth of potatoes at the typical yield and wholesale price today (call it 15,000 lbs/acre at $0.08/lb).
Ag in the Central Valley does depend on subsidized water, but, not in the more productive areas of Salinas Santa Maria, no subsidized water there, in fact, we have paid an assessment for state Aquaduct water since the early 60's but have never received a drop.

There are few migrant workers, I know of no camps. Because ag is a year round business most workers remain in one area.

We used to grow potatoes, Kennebecs, for chips, they did ok,
But produce will yield in the neighborhood of $25,000 an acre gross and net 5-9,000, hardly a razor thin profit margin.

I am sure you can find a list of crops in which California dominates the nation, far more than grapes and milk.

California is not only the leading state in ag, but produces 10% of all ag output in the nation. I sure as hell don't see it going flat or trending downward.

Of course, if those who want the illegals deported get their way, ag in CA will go belly up and take the whole state down with it.
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Old 09-30-2011, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Bryte, CA
1,966 posts, read 2,707,211 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esmith143 View Post
Like I said, wine grapes and milk. (And farm-raised beef. The smell of industrial-size cow farms off I-5 in Coalinga is unforgettable. The economics of farm-raised meat is different from the economics of things that you need to grow in the ground. And a few other crops, such as almonds, where CA controls the market because no one else in the world is seriously involved in their production.)

California produced a lot of everything 50 years ago, when water was cheap and container ships were expensive. And even then the most common crop south of San Francisco was oranges, which do require warm Mediterranean climate, but don't require that much irrigation. Since then, Los Angeles metro quadrupled in size, and orange groves were replaced with suburbia. Today CA agricultural output is flat or trending down in most fields, just as Chinese agricultural output keeps growing 10% to 20%/year. China overtook California in orange production in 2004 and it is on track to overtake Florida in a few years. It really hard to compete with a billion peasants who work for the equivalent of $100/month, year-round warm climate and abundant precipitation that exceeds 30 inches/year across most of Southern China.

Water, for agriculture, is still relatively cheap. Their biggest issue is sufficient allocation of water. Furthermore, the San Joaquin Valley has many water districts. Some are dependent upon Federally subsidized water. Others use water from local water districts which get water directly from one of the rivers. Primarily the Kings River. Others pump water out of the ground. It isn't as simple as lumping farming in the San Joaquin Valley into the one group you hear about on the news, often referred to as the "west side."


Brazil outproduces everyone in citrus production. However, it isn't that simple. Their dominant production is orange juice, and juice oranges tend to be the dominant crop in most humid sub-tropical regions. Mediterranean regions tend to grow table oranges (navel, moro, sanguinelli, etc). And they do require a fair amount of water. Citrus is still very big in California. Chances are those Washington Naval oranges you see in the grocery store were grown somewhere between Porterville and Clovis along the Sierra Nevada foothills. Don't forget about the peaches, nectarines, apricots, and melons. I don't know where tomatoes rank, but I still see quite a few grown in western Fresno County.
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:23 PM
 
Location: Pismo Beach, CA
3,743 posts, read 6,058,992 times
Reputation: 805
Quote:
Originally Posted by .highnlite View Post
ES, you are generally accurate in your posts, but this ag thing whacked you.

Just one small part;

Ag in the Central Valley does depend on subsidized water, but, not in the more productive areas of Salinas Santa Maria, no subsidized water there, in fact, we have paid an assessment for state Aquaduct water since the early 60's but have never received a drop.

There are few migrant workers, I know of no camps. Because ag is a year round business most workers remain in one area.

We used to grow potatoes, Kennebecs, for chips, they did ok,
But produce will yield in the neighborhood of $25,000 an acre gross and net 5-9,000, hardly a razor thin profit margin.

I am sure you can find a list of crops in which California dominates the nation, far more than grapes and milk.

California is not only the leading state in ag, but produces 10% of all ag output in the nation. I sure as hell don't see it going flat or trending downward.

Of course, if those who want the illegals deported get their way, ag in CA will go belly up and take the whole state down with it.
Ag is not the primary money generator in this state.

And the labor camps don't exist anymore because they have transformed into your regular day fruit and vegetable farms.
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:31 PM
 
Location: California
1,055 posts, read 774,893 times
Reputation: 968
Quote:
Originally Posted by the city View Post
Why is the Central Valley have a lot of poverty and why is agriculture the primary industry?

Links and resources to sources are appreciated.
My guess is becuase of the soil and weather is why agriculture is the number one industry, and the ranch owners don't pay much to their field workers is why there is so much poverty. Just my guess.
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:39 PM
 
Location: Bryte, CA
1,966 posts, read 2,707,211 times
Reputation: 1311
Quote:
Originally Posted by the city View Post
Ag is not the primary money generator in this state.

And the labor camps don't exist anymore because they have transformed into your regular day fruit and vegetable farms.
I don't think anyone was trying to imply ag was the largest economic sector in California. But for much of the state, geographically, it is the one of the leading if not the dominant sectors of the local economy.

California Agricultural Statistic Review 2009-2010

Anything else you want to know can be found on the CDFA website.

http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/statistics/
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:08 PM
 
Location: San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties
6,390 posts, read 3,260,227 times
Reputation: 2622
Quote:
Originally Posted by the city View Post

And the labor camps don't exist anymore because they have transformed into your regular day fruit and vegetable farms.
We turned ours into equipment storage areas, but, they had not been used since January 1942.
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Old 10-01-2011, 10:57 AM
 
Location: Portlandia "burbs"
7,767 posts, read 7,526,929 times
Reputation: 16797
I think a good chunk of the cause is that illegals have been bringing their families with them for the last few decades, which adds to the "poor population". When I grew up there illegals did not bring their families, AND they were seasonal ~ they went back to Mexico after the crops season was done. This started to change in the late-70's-early-80's.
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