By Romeo Agbalog, Executive Director, Kern County Farm Bureau
Kern County… the most important county in the nation. That may sound a little hyperbolic for some, but for those of us here at home it is not a stretch of the imagination at all for us to say or believe that. After all, Kern County is home to two military defense installations that play a vital role in our nation’s defense, we are consistently at the top in terms of production of oil and gas, renewable energy, and of course agriculture. Suffice to say, we feed, fuel, and defend the nation.
In fact, according to statistics from our local Kern Economic Development Corporation, Kern agriculture’s annual output is valued at $7.6 billion. One in five jobs in Kern is directly related to agriculture: 62,400 in ag production and 5,500 in ag processing, to be more specific. Kern accounts for 44% of the U. S. grape supply and approximately 80% of carrots. On a global scale we produce 16% of the world’s almonds, 10% of its pistachios, and 17% of citrus.
To truly capture the full picture of the ag industry’s local impact we need to look at industry multipliers. Did you know that for every one (1) job in ag production, .92 additional jobs are created? The multiplier increases to an additional 2.46 jobs created for every one job in ag processing. And there is more. For every $1 of income in ag production, $1.19 is generated in the local economy, and in ag processing $1.75 is generated for every $1 of income. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.
So why do unelected bureaucrats, regulators, activists, and even some legislators treat agriculture so bad? The numbers speak for themselves and organizations like the Kern County Farm Bureau will continue to work, with your help, to educate decision makers about the importance of Kern’s agriculture to our region, our state, nation, and even the world. There is a lot at stake here, mankind has been eating and consuming food and fiber since the beginning of time, and I do not foresee those habits changing any time soon. So maybe it’s time for decision makers to change, or at least their perspectives on agriculture, and especially in the most important county in the nation.