A report released by area Congressman Jeff Denham Feb. 14 addressed the agro-economy of California's 10th congressional district and offered recommendations following a roundtable discussion he hosted at Modesto Junior College last October.
Denham included an agricultural profile of the 10th Congressional District of California, which encompasses Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. District-wide, there are:
• 411,475 total irrigated crop acres;
• 4,768 farms;
• 39,529 people in the agricultural workforce.
Almonds rank as the top commodity in both Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties with $1.2 billion in value and $433 million in value, respectively. Denham highlighted key industry issues, such as water usage - which has decreased by 33 percent; trade issues with India, including illegal smuggling and mislabeling of California almonds through Pakistan and the Kashmir region to India;, and pesticide maximum residue limits, which present a significant potential trade barrier to exports.
Almonds are followed by milk in both counties with Stanislaus County at $647.8 million in value and San Joaquin County at $372.2 million in value. Key dairy industry issues detailed in the report include the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, which rules that nitrates are solid waste; trade, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Water of the United States," or WOTUS rule.
Other notable commodities included in the district agriculture profile are cattle and calves, grapes (wine), and walnuts.
Overall, Stanislaus County has a total ag commodity value of $3.9 billion and San Joaquin County has a total ag commodity value of $2.7 billion.
During the October Roundtable, Denham engaged dozens of local stakeholders and Valley's farming community in a discussion. The forum focused primarily on water, trade and trans-pacific partnership, state and federal regulations, labor and immigration, and the 2018 Farm Bill.
"Here in the Central Valley, we pride ourselves on a distinguished history and heritage of putting food on dinner tables across America," said Denham. "With such a large role in California's agricultural output, it's important that the Valley's farming community's priorities are discussed and represented."
From these discussions, Denham's report compiled subsequent key recommendations that largely revolve around the continuation of current efforts or the revival of inactive ones. These suggestions include:
• Building off last Congress' water negotiation accomplishments to further progress innovative and permanent solutions;
• Continue working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on a case-by-case basis to ensure fair, secure trade for domestic producers and safe imports for domestic markets;
• Push for a repeal of the WOTUS rule;
• Push for comprehensive immigration reform with a suitable agricultural worker visa fix, and explore year-round visa proposals;
• Schedule industry-specific roundtables and House Ag Committee field hearings in the district leading up to the next Farm Bill.
A full copy of the report can be found at denham.house.gov.