A New Year & What’s Ahead
By Romeo Agbalog, Executive Director, Kern County Farm Bureau
With 2021 now behind us, we look forward to the new year with optimism yet measured considering that the California State Legislature reconvenes on January 3rd.
I am optimistic that our Central Valley legislators will look to the local ag industry for help to develop common sense solutions to address the many issues plaguing local area farmers and ranchers, and will continue the good fight for more water, water infrastructure and storage, and relief from burdensome regulations that are crushing our businesses.
I am measured because the state legislature is also where most of the job-killing bills, rules, and regulations originate from. In fact, it is likely that some of the bad ideas that failed in the legislature the year before may resurrect again, though rest assured that the Kern County Farm Bureau is positioned to engage and advocate on behalf of local area agriculture when they do.
But why is advocacy and engagement important? There are many reasons, though I would like to refer to the “100 Mile Circle.” According to a research report titled, “California’s Forgotten Farmer” by Harrison Co. that was published in Spring 2021, the 100 Mile Circle is the area of land within a one-hundred-mile radius using Fresno as the center point that spans as far as Modesto to the north, Salinas to the west, and Bakersfield at the southern most tip of the radius. This report states that the area within this 100-mile radius, “represents less than one percent of the total landmass in the U. S. Yet, it produces 60% of the country’s fruits and nuts, and over 30% of its vegetables.”
This area’s climate and soil quality make it possible to grow almost any crop, “so ideal for growing fruits and vegetables that if the region was designated as a country, it would be the 11th largest producer of non-cereal grain crops in the world,” (FAO Value of Agriculture Production, Knoema, May 5, 2020). In sum, this region plays a critical role in preserving our nation’s food independence, a matter of National security. Independence and security are at the core of who we are as Americans and are definitely things worth advocating, engaging, and indeed fighting for.
You may request a copy of this report here: