By Audrey Hill, Feature Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
As residents of the San Joaquin Valley, we are often taken for granted or simply forget how much of an impact this region has on society both nationwide and globally. Millions of travelers travel on our valley’s highways without knowing that the San Joaquin region’s agricultural output comprises 73% of California’s food production and 10% nationally. The fact is, that without our valley’s community of hard-working & passionate residents, much of the U.S., and certainly most of California, would be left without food on our tables. In 2019, the San Joaquin Valley’s ag output was $34.6 billion. The industry provides 337,000 jobs in agricultural production and 222,500 jobs in agricultural processing. As a comparison of growth, the valley produced 60% more gross product in 2014, despite water usage being down by 15%, than in 1980.
The San Joaquin Valley produces 85% of the nation’s carrot supply, 59% of grapes and 17% of the nation’s milk supply. We also account for 95% of California’s citrus, 56% of the nation’s citrus, 30% of the world’s pistachios and 70% of the world’s almonds! These facts as mentioned are often unknown by the general public which has ultimately resulted in a variety of new annual publications created by the Kern Economic Development Corporation (Kern EDC).
Kern EDC’s mission is “to cultivate and promote Kern County’s boundless opportunities for business” (kernedc.com). Kern EDC is committed to collecting accurate aggregate industry data with the goal of providing this information to the public and to promote the five main sectors of Kern County’s economy: value-added agriculture, energy and natural resources, logistics, healthcare services, and aerospace/defense.
One of the strategies that Kern EDC has developed with the goal of promoting the fruits of San Joaquin’s labor, is the Economic Impact Fact Sheet of San Joaquin Valley Agriculture; there is also an Oil and Gas Industry Fact Sheet. Both publications are created after significant research and analysis of the economic profile of this valley. Richard Chapman, president & CEO of Kern EDC, alongside his research and graphic design team have been producing these fact sheets for three years running. Kern EDC is committed to updating this data as it becomes annually available while also striving to improve the layout for ease of communication.
This year’s Agricultural Industry fact sheet was comprised by using aggregate data primarily from San Joaquin, Kings, Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno, Madera, Tulare, and Kern Counties. These eight 2019 County Ag Reports provide a microeconomic view of the San Joaquin Valley’s agricultural industry. However, the Kern EDC also includes information from CDFA and USDA reports that focus on big-picture agriculture data. Each of these counties’ individual ag reports are created by their local County Ag Commissioner. These reports are thorough and contain a large amount of data that would likely overwhelm the general public. Kern EDC’s Agricultural Fact Sheet is created with the goal of simplifying the data into a reader friendly format.
“It’s about all of us becoming better ambassadors for our region as well as promoting the fact that we are the top ag-producing region in the world,” Chapman comments. The ag fact sheet is a way to “educate the state’s policymakers” about what our valley is producing and how it is progressing. These fact sheets are specifically designed to provide the industry “elevator speech” to the public and to Sacramento what the individual ag reports cannot. Because it is not a single county ag report, the fact sheet also acts to unify the San Joaquin Valley as a whole, rather than eight separate counties.
With California having the fifth-largest economy in the world, its continuous GDP growth and transition of dominant industry sectors over the last two decades, the information compiled and promoted by Kern EDC is invaluable for San Joaquin’s residents and business owners. These fact sheets can be found at the Kern EDC’s LinkedIn page.