By Mike Wilson
Drought. Regulations. Migrant labor under scrutiny. Complex water rights. Urban encroachment. And now, frost.
In a high-stakes farm profit game, California farmers face these challenges and more with grit, smarts and determination.
Last week (the week of March 12) I crisscrossed the state to catch up with some of these growers and learn what drives them. They’re motivated by strong market prices driven by dynamic domestic and global demand for what they grow. California agriculture is a $45 billion business; it is the leading state in cash farm receipts. California’s 2016 net farm income, $13.8 billion, was still higher than nine of the leading Midwestern corn and soybean states combined. About half the nation’s fruits and vegetables come from here.
A lot of that revenue these days comes from tree crops, as costly land, fewer available workers and big world demand push farmers to tear out less profitable crops and drop dairies in favor of pistachios, walnuts and almonds.
Here’s a quick look at some of the issues California farmers face each business day.