This year California observed AG Day on March 23nd; a day we celebrate our state's unique contributions to the nation’s food supply. California has been recognized as the country’s number one agricultural state for over 60 years, supplying about 50 percent of our fruit, vegetables and nuts.
AG Day gives me an opportunity to remind my Northern California colleagues of this region’s significance in maintaining our agricultural leadership. According to the San Diego County Farm Bureau, San Diego County ranks as the 19th largest farm economy out of over 3,000 U.S. counties. We are the number 1 producer of nursery crops and avocados, number 2 in guavas, pomegranates, limes and macadamias. We rank 5th in lemon production, 9th in strawberries and 10th in egg laying hens. We have more small farms (under 10 acres) than any county in the nation. We also rank number 2 in farms with women as the principal operator.
Agriculture is a major contributor to our state’s economy. According to the 2019 Crop Report, California exported $21.7 billion in agricultural commodities around the world. Top commodities for export included dairy products, almonds, pistachios, grapes, along with cattle and calves. Less than 2 percent of the state’s population is engaged in agriculture, yet each worker today feeds more than 165 people, compared to just 25 in 1960. In 1949, 22 percent of disposable household income was spent on food; today it’s only 11 percent.
Since agriculture is vital to our state and regional economies, we must do all we can to see that it flourishes, including providing reliable and affordable sources of water. I am a member of the Bipartisan Rural Caucus, a group of legislators working to achieve consensus on issues facing California’s rural/agricultural areas. I will continue to do everything possible to support our irreplaceable agriculture industry.