By Romeo Agbalog, Executive Director, Kern County Farm Bureau
Kern County was recently ranked as the number one crop-producing county in the nation with a total value topping over $8 billion. This figure represents gross values and does not consider the cost of production, equipment, fuel, fertilizer, labor, and other related expenses that have increased exponentially, nor does the figure suggest net income or loss for Kern’s producers.
While the annual output value is impressive, I would like to invite you to join me and take a deeper dive into the value of Kern’s agriculture and its economic impacts on the community that you might also find impressive. Did you know that one in every five jobs in Kern County is directly related to agriculture? According to the Kern Economic Development Corporation (Kern EDC), there are 66,300 jobs in Kern County in ag production and ag processing combined. Kern EDC figures show that for every one job in ag production, .92 additional jobs are created. Also, for every $1 of income, $1.19 is generated in the local economy. The industry multiplier for ag processing jobs is 2.26 additional jobs created for every 1 job, and $1.75 is generated in the local economy for every $1 of income.
In addition to producing the food and fiber America needs, farmers and ranchers help generate sales tax revenue used by local jurisdictions to help fund essential public services when equipment, supplies, trucks, and other goods are purchased. Likewise for ag employees when they spend their hard-earned wages on food, recreation, and other wares. Much of the latter is occurring now as families prepare for Christmas. With Kern County consistently ranked as one of the top ag-producing counties in the country, what I described is common practice. But regulations like the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act or SGMA, drought, and other burdensome and costly government regulations that threaten our industry makes one wonders how much longer can we be leaders in production.
As we approach Christmas and join with family to celebrate the birth of our Savior and give thanks for the many gifts and blessings we have received throughout the year, please take a moment to reflect on the many gifts that local agriculture provides to our families and community at large. From the meal at the dinner table, the ugly Christmas sweater you purchased for a least favorite relative, or the ag job that provided the income used to purchase said sweater, or the friends that are like family that we have met through the ag industry, we have much to be thankful for. $8 billion is a huge number, but the value of ag is much deeper and bigger to us, at least here at home. Merry Christmas!