This year California observed AG Day on March 22nd; a day we celebrate our state's unique contributions to the nation’s food supply. It’s also an opportunity for me to remind legislators from north of the Tehachapi Mountains that our region helps make California the country’s leading agricultural state.
Agriculture is a major contributor to our economy. According to the 2019 Crop Report, California’s agricultural output generated $50 billion, with exports totaling $21.7 billion. Top commodities for export included almonds, pistachios, walnuts, dairy and dairy products, and of course, wine.
Our local contributions to this bounty are huge. In Riverside County, more than 200,000 acres are devoted to agriculture, producing about 120 different commodities including vegetables, flowers, milk and eggs. Nursery stock, milk and table grapes are the top three producers, each valued at over $100 million. Temecula Valley winegrowers are recognized around the nation. Don’t forget avocados, many grown in De Luz, just west of Temecula. Avocados rank 10th in total production value for Riverside County.
San Diego County’s agriculture, much of it centered in the 75th Assembly District, is extremely diverse, including nursery crops, citrus, avocados and our growing wine industry. According to the San Diego County Farm Bureau, our agricultural production ranks 19th out of over 3,000 counties nationwide. We’re first for nursery crops and avocados (producing 40% of California’s crop), second in acres of guavas, pomegranates, limes and macadamias, fifth in lemons, ninth in strawberries, tenth in egg laying hens. We also rank first nationally in part-time farmers and second in farms operated by women.
Since agriculture is so vital to our state and regional economies, I joined the Bipartisan Rural Caucus, a group of legislators working to achieve consensus on issues facing California’s rural/agricultural areas. Some asked why an Assemblywoman from Southern California wanted to join. Obviously, they didn’t know much about the 75th Assembly District!