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The agriculture prominence of Fresno

Admin | October 17, 2023 @ 12:00 AM


Everyone needs food to live, and most of the food one lives on comes from Fresno, CA. From almonds to cattle this industrious city has its hands in most of the foods on grocery shelves. The city of Fresno produces cattle year after year in the four-figure range; after inflation, each head is worth $1300, which rounds out to a lot of money, but they are dwarfed by the price of dairy cows, which go for nearly $1600 a head. Though cattle make up a large percentage of the agricultural community's profits, they are not the only livestock supporting the local community. Sheep and pigs make up nearly 100,000 additional head of livestock, which total around $30,000,000; while totaling a considerable amount, this does not compare to the real breadwinner of Fresno's livestock. Poultry Fresno's livestock alone accounts for $1.05B, higher than some small countries. Fresno is not the only agricultural powerhouse in the area; Kern County produces just $4 million less a year than its neighbors. Most of the profit comes from the sizeable investment the region made in the livestock industry during the previous decades, such as providing tax breaks for buildings housing livestock as well as breaks for farmers that own acreage past a certain threshold. Legislation has pushed agriculture past Fresno's other industries. Still, it has yet to leave those industries behind, as construction, logistics, and general trades are essential in supporting the weighty burden of the agricultural field.

Foods produced in Fresno

Livestock is one of many food sources produced in Fresno; fruits and vegetables require far less maintenance than livestock. Grapes alone account for 1.2 trillion of Fresno's total income; barely behind them are almonds. Crops account for more of Fresno's revenue than livestock and require much less space. Fresno is comparable to a number of small countries like Ireland, which don't break $1 billion with any individual crop, this type of agricultural not unique to Fresno. Kern County produces numbers similar to Fresno County year after year, making them one of the top almond producers in the whole world. While not native to the state, almonds have found a home in California, which produces 80% of the world's almond supply and 100% of America's. These neighboring counties are an emerging area in northern California used to grow various crops from wine grapes to table almonds and everything in between, making these cities a destination for families looking to move away from the bustle of a big city and reconnect with nature. While not a food, the Marijuana capital of the world, Hemet, has changed agriculture in general for farmers in the area. In 1999, the average cost per acre in California was $1800, a high price compared to other states but not the nearly five-figure average of today. Land purchases in the area have skyrocketed at the same time as laws affecting both industries. The greater Fresno area is becoming to farming what Silicon Valley was to tech, and the real estate industry has raised prices accordingly. Brokers have priced out small-time farmers in the area and have replaced them with mega-corporations looking to monopolize the farmland in the area. Water in the area has also started conflict in years past due to the large amount of water needed to grow a single Almond; at nearly one gallon per nut, it is one of the most water-intensive crops produced in the state. Drought concerns exacerbated these concerns, culminating in groups pushing for legislation and various articles defending the production process and value of almonds in California.

Agriculture compared to other cities

Neighboring counties like Bakersfield are set up almost identically and produce the same crops. The water usage between these two counties alone is enough to make local governments limit water usage to a gallon per day. This has led local farmers to seek alternatives in an effort to maximize the water they have access to. Desert countries like Israel have dealt with droughts far longer than California has been a state. The Israeli solution is a scientific process called drip irrigation. This process minimizes the amount of water spent per crop by slowly letting out water to crops individually rather than the big sprays of yesterday that wasted vast amounts of water for the same result. California is home to more rivers than the entire country of Israel but has struggled with its water management as if roles were reversed. However, there are new faces in the industry who are seeking to move the industry forward. Chief among these is Bikram Singh, the CEO of Madera-based Nia Ag Solutions. a young investor with big backers looking to turn huge plots of almond land into all organic farms. Singh manages a portfolio with over 12,000 acres of farmland, over 2,000 of which were recently acquired through a $15 million purchase near Cantua Creek. Regulations and costs hold most farmers back from achieving an organic crop, but for someone with backers like Singh, these factors only drive up the price of an already scarce crop. Critics of Singh point to the high prices his almonds sell for compared to those of non-organic farms, at nearly twice the price of his competitors. Singh is a businessman in the end, and maximizing profits is in his DNA, but water seems to have gone by the wayside while having viable alternatives that save both water as well as money for both parties. The water used for farming has use outside of its current method of disposal, advanced irrigation methods like water recycling, reclamation, and wastewater reuse. These techniques currently need to be revised in Northern California's agriculture industry due to the extensive cost the machinery as well as the infrastructure needed would incur to small and big farmers alike.

History of Fresno's agriculture

The allure of Fresno is intertwined with its agricultural history, ranging as far back as 1900. Fresno was established during the gold rush as a trading post for Westerners searching for gold. Early on, agriculture played a big part in deteriorating the relationship between residents and town officials. Marcus Pollasky was a fraudster who aimed to build a rail line from Fresno over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This track would barely reach Hamptonville, under 20 miles compared to the promised triple-digit distance. Residents would see ownership of the rail line change hands soon after it was built in 1891, where it became a staple of the local community before ultimately being closed well into the twentieth century. Rail lines brought a significant population boom from pioneers looking to strike it big with either gold or oil. Residents from less recourse-rich settlements flocked to California in the coming decades, raising the population from an outpost to city and county status. Due to the labor-intensive work required for gold and oil, businessmen sought alternatives like cattle ranching and agricultural pursuits that became the lifeblood of Fresno, shaping its destiny and setting the stage for modern-day Fresno. The gold craze died half a century after the Pollasky debacle, but agriculture remains Fresno's cash cow, an industry that runs in a cyclical manner and provides a stable income, becoming the bedrock for small communities. The agricultural landscape of Fresno stands as a testament to the perseverance of its blue-collar farmers, who have become local heroes in Northern California. These families sustain themselves and uplift their neighbors, creating a sense of community and solidarity. The stability brought by agriculture has positioned Fresno as a resilient and thriving hub, a testament to the enduring spirit of those who have toiled on its fertile lands for generations.

The numbers

Counties release yearly agricultural reports detailing yield for that season's harvest, and these reports show the revenue generated by food alone in the counties of Fresno and Bakersfield. Entire countries produce less food than the two counties produce alone; this process is partly due to California's geography; flowing freshwater rivers and lakes across the state provide the water that grows more than 300.000 acres of almonds. The agricultural industry and the jobs it provides have led to the population gradually rising since the gold rush; Fresno alone has had 200.000 new residents since 2000. Often, these are families leaving bustling cities in pursuit of a different lifestyle, which could lead to downsizing homes or the need for additional storage space. Derrel's Mini Storage has more than 20 locations in Fresno alone, all of which have units of all sizes providing features such as gated entry, temperature-controlled units, on-site management, online bill pay, drive-up access, boxes as well as supplies for sale, and storage protection plans for sale. New residents should consider storing their valuables with a premier storage brand like Derrel's; with 60+ locations all around California, Derrel's has built a reputation for low-priced personal storage and corporate storage. Various locations in Fresno also offer RV storage, boat storage, and vehicle storage for those looking to utilize all the space on the driveway.

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