Agriculture’s GDP in the nation. The agriculture sector has


Contributions to California’s Economy


Rene- California’s economy
is one of the strongest in the world as it ranks as one of the top ten largest
economies in the world.  This comes as no surprise as California’s billion
dollar technology industry continues to expand with more companies entering the
space every day.  In addition California
also has a multi-billion dollar agriculture market that exports its central
valley produce all over the world.  With
these two sectors in mind it is easy to see that California has the largest
state GDP in the nation.  The agriculture
sector has always been a staple in California’s economy since early on because
of the rich farmland and ideal weather that California provides.  Organic farming
has become one of the biggest and fastest growing divisions in agriculture as
more health conscious consumers seek unmodified produce.  The demand for these organic items has left
farmers the difficult task of meeting the demand.  This paper will examine
the foundation and stability that agriculture has provided for California’s
economy, the rise of organic farming, the pros and cons of organic products, a
comparison of traditional farming to organic farming, the transition that
traditional farmers make to start organic farming, how the California drought
affected farmers and lastly how this contributes overall to the California

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There are two theories that dominate California’s
agricultural history. One theory suggests that California farmers are advanced,
well educated, prompt selectors of up-to-date equipment, and remarkably well
structured. Through irrigation, California farmers made a “desert” bloom which
is an occurrence that involves the blossoming of an extensive diversity of
flowers during early-mid spring in years when rainfall is extraordinarily high.
Through collaboration, California farmers flourished as their high-quality
crops captured markets around the world. This farmers-do-no-wrong tale is the
backbone of the state’s influential marketing associations, government
agencies, and agricultural research institution. According to the opposing theory,
the California agricultural system was created by land-grabbers who to this day
exploit underprivileged refugee workers and misuse the California’s natural
environment. Even in its slightest form, this view places fault on California
farmers for becoming complete capitalists, rather than choosing for more
old-fashioned family farms like their Midwestern counterparts. Although the
competition between these rival understandings of California’s farm
organization has stormed for the past one hundred and fifty years, neither
explanation has betrothed a methodical buildup and calm examination of the
obtainable data, and both have normally required the proportional viewpoint
needed to measure why California agriculture established as it did.                                                      When irritated miners left the
gold fields, they established an ideal environment for growing wheat. This
environment for wheat consisted of excessive regions of fertile soil and
leveled ground combined with a climate of wet winters and dry summers. By the
mid-1850s, California’s wheat production surpassed local consumption, and
California’s grain procedures began to change into a method of agriculture
unlike the family ran farms of the American North. California grain procedures
were very large by present-day criteria and largely employed labor reducing
technologies. For example, California farmers established the implementation of
gang plows, large headers, and combined harvesters. These new technologies were
all beneficial for reducing labor. Californian farmers shipped majority of their
wheat and barley to the European market, establishing an outline of integration
into global markets that has branded California agriculture. Extensive
operations, automation, and a dependence on employment would also become
trademarks of California’s farm division. Not only were California wheat farms
characteristically bigger and more reliant on laborsaving equipment and
livestock power than Midwestern and eastern wheat farms, Californians grew
fundamentally different varieties of wheat and employed different cultural
techniques than their eastern brethren. These biological differences, although
not generally appreciated, were critical to the success of the early California
wheat industry. In fact, when eastern farmers migrated to California they had to
relearn how to grow the crop. In the eastern U.S. (as well as in northern
Europe), grain growers planted either winter-habit varieties in the fall to
allow the seedlings to emerge before winter or spring-habit varieties in the
spring shortly before 1 As we note later in this essay, ranchers vigorously
pursued the development of technologies and production practices suited to
early California’s economic and environmental conditions. This search for
economic large-scale, labor-saving technologies culminated in the perfection of
the combined grain harvester by local agricultural implements’ producers in the
early 1880s and its widespread diffusion among the region’s grain growers in
the late 1880s and the 1890s. See Alan L. Olmstead and Paul Rhode, “An Overview
of California Agricultural Mechanization, 1870-1930,” Agricultural History,
Vol. 62, No. 3, 1988. 2 California Agriculture: Dimensions and Issues the last
freeze. The difference was that winter-habit wheat required prolonged exposure
to cold temperatures and an accompanying period of dormancy (vernalization) to
shift into its reproductive stage. Spring-habit wheat, by contrast, grew
continuously without a period of vernalization, but generally could not survive
extreme cold. With the mild winters of California, farmers learned it was
advantageous to sow spring-habit wheat in the fall (as was common in the
Mediterranean but unheard of in the eastern U.S.). California’s wheat
experience exemplifies what happens in the absence of continual biological innovation.
After learning to cultivate Sonora and Club wheats in the 1850s, 1860s, and
1870s, California grain growers focused most of their innovative efforts on
mechanization, and purportedly did little to improve cultural practices,
introduce new varieties, or even maintain the quality of their seed stock.
According to contemporary accounts, decades of monocrop grain farming,
involving little use of crop rotation, fallowing, fertilizer, or deep plowing,
mined the soil of nutrients and promoted the growth of weeds. Complaints that
the land no longer yielded paying wheat crops became common from the 1890s. The
grain also deteriorated in quality, becoming starchy and less glutinous. It is
interesting to note these unsustainable “soil mining” practices may well have
been “economically rational” under the high interest rates prevailing in the
state in the mid-nineteenth century. The result was such sharply declining
yields in many areas that wheat,
formerly the state’s leading staple, ceased to be a paying crop and was
virtually abandoned.                                                                                                                      As mentioned earlier
one can tell that organic farming is growing at a substantial rate. By 1994,
there were four thousand and fifty licensed organic farms in the United States.
Organic industry sales had increased to $2.3 billion per year, growing more
than 20% yearly since 1989. With a growing population of consumers it is
important to highlight the reasoning behind the movement towards organic foods.

Karen Klonsky from the
Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics states “California leads the
nation with the highest number of organic farms, land in organic production,
and organic sales. Two-thirds of organic sales in California are from produce,
one fourth from livestock, and the remainder from field crops. The vast
majority of organic farmers in California plan to increase or maintain their
current levels of organic production.”

            Yousef_Given that organic
farming is stated as a revolution in the food industry it brings a higher value
of produce to the market. Organic goods contain higher nutrition values, due to
the lack of manipulations when compared to traditional farming goods, the
produce is developed with high nutrition content. This brings higher quality
foods to the market. Organic farming requires natural methods when growing
produce, and thus can be linked to the better tasting fruits and vegetables.

With a more natural
approach compared to conventional farming of produce, organic foods are considered
to have a lower human harming substances. In traditional farming, the aesthetic
of the fruits is more important than quality. With the lack of chemicals in the
produce due strict guidelines customers can be assured of quality and decrease
risks of diseases. Health aware consumers are more likely to consume organic
produce due avoid GMO induced products.

            Due to the importance of natural techniques
whilst harvesting the produce, research claims that that organic farming is
environmentally friendly. Through the sustainability and conservation of
healthy soil, farmers benefit in future harvests. The lack of chemicals being
used within the harvest promotes a healthy environment and reduces pollution.
With no chemicals being used in the process of harvesting farmers actually face
lower costs.  Many chemicals and pesticides can be seen as costly and thus
farmers save money moving towards organic farming. Farmers also avoid being in
contact with these dangerous chemicals and can avoid diseases.                                             Although it seems
Organic farming seems to be the better alternative it does come with its
downsides. The US department of agriculture spends roughly around 25 billion dollars in subsidies for farmers.
Organic farming do not receive government help and thus are more susceptible to
risk. With storms and other weather factors involved organic farmers can lose
their livestock for the year.

            Farmers must have the knowledge and skill in
order to run an organic farm. Understanding the types of soils and processes is
a study of its own. Farmers may find this as an extra task in moving towards an
organic farm. Many farmers already have a market and buyers for their goods,
but once they seek to sell organic goods, they may find it difficult to compete
in the market. Being a newcomer to a market may be seen as a challenge but can
join farmers market.

Farmers may be
discouraged from transitioning to organic farming due to the costs involved. In
order to ensure the growth of produce organically, substituting soils can ask
for more manual labor. With close monitoring of crops, increase in manual labor
and the lack of subsidies farmers

agriculture industry experienced a severe five year drought that crippled farms
throughout the valleys.  The drought was severe enough that Governor Jerry
Brown was forced to declare a state of emergency.  During the California
drought farmers had to decrease the amount of acres that they typically would
utilize to grow crops because they had to find a way to make the most of the
limited amount of water they had access to.  When farmers decrease the
number of acres they are also decreasing their revenues from potential crops
they could have grown.  In addition overhead costs remained the same so
this lead to a decrease in revenue from the limited crops that they did grow.
 The drought had a huge ripple effect on the agriculture sector of the
economy beginning with a decrease in jobs because of farmers having less acres
to work with, this then lead to an increase in the price of produce at the
local grocery store because of the smaller amount of crops available, this will
likely decrease the demand for certain items which all circles back to decrease
the revenues for the farmers and hurts our California economy.

            The California
drought’s state of emergency was official lifted in the early spring of 2017
but the governor warned that “conservation must remain a way of life”.
 Despite this state of emergency being lifted, farmers are still working
hard to regain the level of stability that they were operating at prior to the


2_With California facing water shortages and
weather issues, it is important to analyze its effects on the agriculture
market. Unpredictable weather changes can cause harm to farmers stock.
California being the fifth largest producer of food, generating 35 billion a
year (2011), these erratic conditions can cause issues to the market and effect
the GDP heavily. In order to decrease risk of destroyed crops in California,
climate change and water shortages need to be prevented. It is seen that
organic farming methods can help solve the issues of climate change. With
the techniques used in order to provide organic produce, greenhouse gas
emissions are reduced and carbon is stored in the soil.

As per
the California Climate and Agriculture Network Organic farming requires certain
management that requires natural ecosystems in order to benefit resources,
improve organism populations and enhance soil fertility. Organic farming also
benefits from “Does not utilize genetically modified organisms or synthetic
pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Organic livestock production requires
considerable pastureland access and prohibits the use of synthetic foodstuffs,
growth hormones and antibiotics.”

Agriculture in California has been one of the fastest growing sectors, sales
doubling each year. USDA stated that organic food sales has increased from 3.6
billion in 1997 to 25 billion in 2010. With California being home to 20% of the
nation’s organic farms and holds 36% of sales in organic produce.

A study researched by the California Air Resources Board, stated that
California agriculture can be blamed for 6% of the state’s gas house emissions,
which can come from livestock and fertilizer use.  With variables such as soil, climate and
cropping system all factors when tackling Green House Gas emissions, we see
organic farming take account certain systems.                                                                                         California’s agriculture sector relies
heavily on undocumented workers which has been a controversial topic for quite
some time.  The most recent presidential election has brought more
scrutiny to this topic as it has garnered more attention.  The
undocumented workers have helped boost the economy by accepting low wages while
working the long hours of a season’s harvest.  The California State
controller Betty Yee stated that “undocumented labor is worth more than $180
billion a year to California’s economy” which was more than the 2015 GDP for
the state of Oklahoma.  Although some disagree with having immigrants work
our agriculture fields,  economists say that the undocumented provide a
whole lot of benefits to the U.S economy and contrary to belief these undocumented
immigrants have either very low or no impact on the employment level of
native-born workers.

California’s economy
continues to thrive and will only become stronger as the agriculture sector
continues to expand with its organic subsection.  The demand for organic
products is growing and as we mentioned above, many have started to make a
shift towards more health co