Like everyone else involved with agriculture, I was feeling a little picked on by the folks down south and in Sacramento. With the drought hitting home for the entire state, the blame game was played by everyone, with Ag a big target.
Fortunately that stage of things seems to be over – we’re all sharing the pain. With the media coverage of the dead and dying orchards, the bare and dry westside row crops, and the cities making deep cuts in use, the pain is obvious and is being shared by most of California.
Even almonds have been vindicated. The Los Angeles Times recently published an article about the almond harvest, and showed the many benefits of growing almonds. People seem to be starting to understand that Ag is very important to everyone in the state.
One of the reasons for this new understanding of Ag is the outreach that several Agriculture groups have done this year. That outreach began before the water cuts last spring, and intensified as distorted information began to fill the news stories. California farmers rushed to correct the misinformation, and they’ve done a good job. One of the best is farmfacts.org, which not only has a very informative website but also, has been placing highway signs and banners informing the public about California farming – things like “Farms contribute $118 Billion to the California economy”, and “Farmers spent $3 billion on irrigation efficiency since 2003”.
It would benefit agriculture to continue this information campaign, even after the drought is over. We need to continue to show the consumer that Americans have access to the safest food ever produced. American- grown and processed food, whether conventionally grown or organic, is produced with the least amount of the safest pesticides, and those levels are carefully monitored throughout the growing and packaging processes. While these efforts drive up the cost of US grown food, our farming practices are as efficient and as cost effective as possible.
This is an important message for our consumers.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.