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California has a history of continual, radical alteration. It has come across an copiousness of hurdlings to go one of the universe ‘s strongest agricultural manufacturers. Most late, the bend of the new millenary has demonstrated more strain on the Californian agriculture industry. There have been low monetary values across the board, tightened environmental controls and worsening of farm income. However, increasing complexness and prevalence of more cardinal issues such as H2O scarceness and clime alteration indicate that the challenges will go on good into the hereafter. At first glimpse, the hereafter is drab for agribusiness in this demand driven industry. However, this study will sketch the foundations, development, current pattern and the inspiring possible the Californian farm industry has for the hereafter.

Characteristic Background

The US province of California has a moderate, Mediterranean clime, with fertile dirt and diverse land resources ( Altieri 1992, p.23 ) . This by and large allows for uninterrupted, twelvemonth unit of ammunition production of many of its trade goods ( CFAC, ND ) . As a consequence, the agribusiness industry has repeatedly undergone uninterrupted, rapid alterations over the past two centuries, to get by with increasing demand. Since the beginning, it seemed every facet of the industry has been modified to some extent, including the mix of harvests ; types of animate beings used ; beginning of H2O and markets used ; size and methods of obtaining capital ; ownership forms and the usage of engineering ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) .

However, in malice of changeless alterations, there are a figure of changeless variables which have characterised the province for both its success and uniqueness. First, California agribusiness has ever been a demand driven industry, ab initio powered by enterprisers seeking luck in new and emerging markets ( Cochrane 1993 ) . These markets were frequently ever in the signifier of foreign export to make full the ever-growing planetary demand. This is much unlike the bulk of locally, subsistence goaded agribusiness of early US history. Second, Agriculture in California has ever been really dependent on natural resources, both land and H2O. As such, the province has a long history of resource development and development to guarantee bettering degrees of production and efficiency. Third, much like Adelaide, California has been vulnerable to H2O scarceness issues, ensuing in insistent arguments with internal and external viing involvements to guarantee a sustainable supply. Fourth, the province has ever had a high demand for agricultural labor for cultivation and production. However, the beginnings for such high demands have varied over clip, including the encouragement of lasting and impermanent, both legal and illegal foreign migration from Asia and South America. Fifth, California Agriculture has demonstrated a uninterrupted development in growing and production, despite periodic ruins caused by unmanageable reverses like drouths, inundations and the Great Depression. Sixth, due to California ‘s rapid and uninterrupted growing in complexness and edification of agricultural methods, it has invariably required high degrees of environmental and economic direction. Seventh, it has ever been on the frontier of cutting border engineering. This includes the development, alteration and version of new engineerings for usage in agricultural pattern ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) .

Statistically, California is presently the United States highest manufacturer of agribusiness ( see graph 1 ) , and has been so for the past 60 old ages ( CDFA, 2010 ) . As a consequence, it generated around US $ 36.6 billion in 2007 alone, which exceeds any other US province ( CDFA, 2010 ) . About one tierce of the province ‘s entire land country is covered by a 75,000 farms and spreads ( CDFA 2008b, p.2 ) , doing its mean farm size 347 estates ( EW, 2010 ) , which is significantly less than the US norm of 443 ( CDFA 2010 ) . But of the entire figure of farms, more than half are less than 50 estates in size ( CFAC, ND ) . This indicates the strong tendency in the development of forte harvest operations, with high diverseness and flexibleness of these agricultural endeavors across the province. In entire, over 350 different types of harvests are grown in California ( CDFA 2001, p. 35 ) . Production is high in volume and efficiency, turning more than half of the United States fruit, vegetable and nut production on less than 4 per cent of the state ‘s designated farming area ( CDFA, 2008b, p.2 ) . Of this volume, the undermentioned types of harvests are entirely grown within the province ; Prunus dulciss, Cynara scolymuss, figs, olives, permissions, Punica granatums, prunes, raisins and walnuts ( EW 2010 ) .

Graph 1: Leading US export provinces

Beginning: UDSAERS ( 2008 ) . ( Food agricultural exports merely ) .

Livestock and domestic fowl make up about 24 % of California ‘s gross income, bring forthing US $ 7.1 billion combined ( CFAC, ND ) . Milk production in California is taking the state with around 1.7 million dairy cattles bring forthing US $ 5.2 billion in hard currency grosss, and in 2004 employed over 400,000 people of the entire 1 million Californian agricultural employees ( CDFA, 2008a, p.17 ; EW, 2010 ) .

California ‘s top 10 trade goods, harmonizing to the USDAERS ( 2008 ) include:

Milk and pick


Nursery merchandises


Cattle and calves






Historical Summary

The recorded historical facets of the development of agribusiness in California can be dated back every bit far as 1769, and can be divided into eight distinguishable periods to day of the month ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . This subdivision of the paper will depict these periods of patterned advance in item.

First Period ( 1769-1821 ) : The Spanish Missions

Livestock, harvests and gardening were introduced in the early 1760s in California by the Franciscan Order missions to feed new colonists and to supply economic activity for the born-again indigens in the country. This included the building of gravity-based irrigation systems which assisted in the crude production of trade goods such as vino. However, agribusiness in this clip ne’er served much more of a intent than autonomy as the entire land area of cultivated harvest Fieldss was comparatively little. Indeed, agricultural land was chiefly in control of the church at this clip ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) .

Second Period ( 1821-1848 ) : Mexican Occupation

After Mexican independency in 1821, it was a clip of unrest until 1834 when the church was stripped of the land ownership which was so divided between the colonists and indigens ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . As such, this period was typically noted for the big multitudes of land being granted to Mexican citizens. The sum granted land in this period ranged between 13 and 14 million hectares ( Jellinek, 1982, p.18 ) . Consequently, much of the church missions left the part and cowss shortly become the country ‘s primary trade good, with the exclusion of the development of grape and tree-fruit production in the latter old ages of this period.

Third Period ( 1848-1860s ) : The Gold haste enlargement

Gold was discovered in 1848 and resulted in the Gold haste of 1849. As a consequence, many Europeans flooded the country hiking the population from 7,000 in 1845 to an amazing 380,000 by 1860 ( Jelinek, 1982 ) . The land was handed back to the European colonists, and as one might presume, the demand for nutrient sky-rocketed ; particularly the market for meat. Harmonizing to Jelinek ( 1982, pp. 23-24 ) , the monetary value of beef went from $ 4 per caput of cowss to over $ 500 in merely a twosome of old ages. This formed the footing for big scale agribusiness in the part ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . However, in 1862, bad fortune struck, and at that place was a immense inundation in the Central Valley, submerging 100s of 1000s of farm animal, mostly cattle ( McClurg, 2000, p. 41 ) . The tally of hapless luck continued as the inundation was instantly followed by a drouth, enduring two old ages, where an equal figure of cowss were lost ( Jelinek, 1982, p27 ) . This crippled the beef industry, and by 1872, wheat had overtaken cowss as primary trade good for agribusiness in the part ( Jelinek, 1982, p.23 ) .

Though cattle monetary values did degree out to around $ 150 a caput by the 1850 ‘s ( Jelinek, 1982, pp. 23-24 ) .

Figure 1: Californian Cattle. Beginning: United States Department of Agriculture.

Forth Period ( 1860s- Late 1890s ) : Early Gardening and the sheep and wheat roar

From the period between 1860 and 1874 the sheep industry boomed, with populations increasing sextuple, catching cowss for a brief period ( Hart et al. , 1946, p.53 ) . Ranches expanded, some to a million estates in size ( Jellinek, 1982, p.29 ) . Wheat and barley farms expanded, from 1 million estates in 1867 to about 4 million in the 1880 ‘s, as a consequence of the constitution of export demand ( Olmstead and Rhode 1997, p. 3 ) . However, the wheat market crashed to merely half a million estates harvested by the bend of the century. This was mostly due to dirty exhaustion, terrible depression in harvest monetary values and the development of the diversified fruit industry ( Olmstead and Rhode 1997, p. 2 ) . As such, gardening increased, at a clip when the wheat industry was in rapid diminution ( Jellinek, 1982, p.27 ) .

Fifth Period ( Late 1890s-1930 ) : Additions in Production

This period demonstrated the explosive, rapid growing of agribusiness in the California part, as the human population increased from 1 to 5 million. The figure of fruit trees and cargos besides increased quickly ( Olmstead and Rhode 1997, p. 6 and Jellinek, 1982, pp.49-51 ) . This was due to the development in selling and engineering, including the building of the Transcontinental Railway, refrigerated transit, and increased handiness of foreign labor, which allowed for cost efficient, big scale export of fruits to Eastern US markets, and overseas ( Jellinek, 1982 ) . Wagess increased, driving demand off from cheaper wheat and grain resources and into fresh fruit, veggies and farm animal ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . Agricultural research systems and engineering were put in topographic point, and in times of low rainfall, irrigation allowed changeless harvest home of harvests all twelvemonth unit of ammunition.

Figure 2: Fresh Californian Tomatoes. Beginning: United States Department of Agriculture.

Sixth Period ( 1930-1949 ) : The Depression and World War 2

Falling monetary values, along with four important drouths between 1929 and 1934 caused a plumb bob in farm income. As such, “ The depression hit difficult and late in California ” ( Bradley, p.148 ) . The ‘relatively stable ‘ index for Farm Land Values had a important bead from 160 to merely 109 in merely 3 old ages between 1930 and 1933 ( Benedict, 1946 ) . Unemployment rose aggressively go forthing many migrators without occupations. California ‘s exports ceased for three old ages before the US entered the war.

The 1930 ‘s basically changed the agricultural policy environment in California. Prior to the depression, husbandmans opposed federal intercession in agricultural personal businesss, like signifiers of recognition ( Benedict, 1946, p.422 ) . However, this changed in the 1930 ‘s when attempts to in private fund the Central Valley Project ( a major H2O strategy ) , failed due deficiency of support. Farmers so sought federal support and after 1937, the monolithic dike and conveyance system commenced building. This was a major alteration for California, as anterior to this ; about all support was in private sourced.

As such, the undertaking formed the footing for the 1940 ‘s to go a decennary of prosperity and growing, after a long and tough depression ( Bradley, 1946 p.220 ) . Agricultural income trebled between 1940 and 1945 ( p.271 ) . Increases in military support significantly benefitted the recovery of California agribusiness in the war old ages. It efficaciously changed it from a rural, resource based economic system into a universe category industrial and military province in merely five short old ages ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . The population doubled between 1930 and 1950 as the province rapidly transformed from in crisis to explosive enlargement in a short period of clip. Labour was in immense demand, and Mexican labour market boomed ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . This was chiefly because local labor beginnings were taken in military functions. However, H2O was huge going an issue toward the terminal of the period as a consequence of additions in production. This raised concerns over the demand for efficiency, as the province took over as the United States ‘ most productive agricultural industry. It has remained this manner to day of the month.

Seventh Period ( 1950-1970 ) : Water and Expansion

The 1950 ‘s and 1960 ‘s proverb another cardinal transmutation in California. It was a clip of immense enlargement in harvest production including changing of composing, resettlement and heightening output production. Productivity growing driven by additions in rewards and engineering progresss after the war assisted this procedure which resulted in much higher efficiency, diverseness and volume ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) .

Figure 2: Californian husbandman on his tractor. Beginning: United States Department of Agriculture.

Eighth Period ( 1970-Present ) : Intensification, Globalisation

California continued to turn from the 1970 ‘s, but was capable to more planetary economic conditions. This was from European and Asiatic influences, which influenced monetary values rather dramatically in the 1970 ‘s, and created more noteworthy break in the 1990 ‘s ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . This period noted a displacement toward more specialized harvests off from heavy influence on traditional signifiers like field harvests ( see Graph 1 for alterations in proportion of major harvests ) . Contractual agreements emerged to replace unfastened markets, with the development of off farm processing and selling. Commodities increased in both figure and signifiers, reflecting increased in demands from both the domestic and export domains. As mentioned in old subdivisions, many fruits and nuts are now entirely grown in California ( EW 2010 ) . However, the state ‘s most terrible drouths occurred in 1976-77, 1987-92. The 2nd, longer drouth had a far more terrible impact on California agribusiness. Average overflow in the Sacramento and San Joaquin hydrological countries halved, ensuing in groundwater extractions transcending recharge by 11 million acre-feet ( DWR, 1998 ) . As such, viing issues over H2O resources began to go a primary subject for argument and environmental issues and considerations gained highest precedence. It is this period that the thought of sustainable development is extremely considered non merely in agribusiness, but besides in all facets of planetary maps. Pressure against such steps continues to be California ‘s of all time increasing population, which is presently at around 37 million, up from 20 million in 1970 ( U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, 2010 ) . Besides, a new market for the demand of organic green goods emerged at the bend of the century.

Graph 2: Changes in the Proportion of major harvests grown in California, 1980-2005.

Beginning: Department of Water Resources 1983 and In Review.

Environmental direction issues – Water scarceness and prevalence of Climate Change

As antecedently mentioned, California is mostly vulnerable to H2O scarceness issues. Most recent informations suggests that this issue is more prevalent now than of all time. Even the Californian Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that “ California is confronting an unprecedented H2O crisis ” ( Office of the Governor 2008 ) .

In 2009, the province merely received 80 per cent of its mean precipitation. In add-on, it is estimated that overflow across the province is most late 70 per cent of normal rates, and reservoir storage is merely 80 per cent of typically mean conditions in California ( DWR 2009 ) . More facts, like low degree of available groundwater, which is expected to go the lowest in 75 old ages if the drouth continues, depicts a cheerless image for the hereafter of California. While the drouths of 1976-77 and 1987-92 were drier, twenty old ages subsequently, there are new obstructions to face. California has grown in population, by around 6 million ; there is significantly less H2O in the Colorado River and the Delta Ecosystem has shown grounds of diminution. A major job in water-scarce countries is the prevalence of salt issues. Assorted salts are of course present in dirt and H2O, particularly in waterless and semi-arid parts like California. However, as H2O development additions land capacity for irrigation, the salt job additions, which has been the instance in California ( Backlund & A ; Hoppes 1984 ) . This demonstrates terrible hazard to the industry as it affects the sum of agricultural end product the province is able to bring forth. Any failure would hold serious societal, economic and environmental deductions for the province.

As good the primary cause of deficient H2O supply, there are four other causes which have a negative impact on salt degrees:

Poor dirt drainage

Irrigation Inefficiencies

Poor H2O quality

Inadequate disposal for H2O filtrating salt from dirt

The unfortunate truth is that California demonstrates exposure to all these hazards.

Problems are exacerbated when H2O drains from upland countries to take down countries. These lower countries are what become the major job countries extremely susceptible to major salt rises ( Backlund & A ; Hoppes 1984 ) . Without the presence of free-flowing rivers to transport the salts from irrigated countries back out to the ocean, overflow is basically evaporated, go forthing a job of salt disposal.

The impact the most recent H2O crisis has had on California agribusiness is lay waste toing. It has caused mid-season fallowing and tree stumping for some husbandmans in 2008. Last twelvemonth, in 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger officially declared a province of exigency due to drought conditions ( Office of the Governor 2009 ) . This is why future direction must take into history the importance of understanding the uninterrupted restrictions on the usage of H2O for non merely Agricultural involvements but the involvements of all users.

Figure 3: This Californian cow is serious emitter of CO. Beginning: United States Department of Agriculture.

A factor that is set to worsen these issues is climate alteration, which will hold a direct negative impact on agricultural production, ensuing in temperature alteration, precipitation and increased frequence of utmost conditions. The highest emitter in California Agriculture is the cattle trade good. It has the highest overall oil and gas dependence ( Roland-Host & A ; Zilberman, 2006, p.2 ) . It is besides extremely reliant on harvests and truck transit. This translates to tremendous sums of emanations generated yearly from merely a individual trade good. Policies that will increase energy efficiency should be enacted, or alternate energy beginnings used to cut down dependence on oil resources. Carbon trading improves the chances for this quandary.

However, the alterations in climatic conditions caused by Climate Change will hold a immense secondary impact on the supply and demand of H2O resources. In the coming of extreme conditions, like heat moving ridges and drouths, husbandmans will be forced to water their harvests to guarantee prosperity of fighting harvests, while eating into critical militias of stored H2O ( Sullivan, 2008 ) . Increased frequence of such events will rapidly utilize up any militias that are left.

Agro-politics/Supply-chains of production

California ‘s agro-food political relations represents an look of the province ‘s economic and political history, agricultural development, digesting and germinating nutrient civilization, and the neoliberal undertaking. Most recent surveies have suggested non if, but how neoliberalization of nutrient political relations has occurred in California. In this sense, California has non merely put the theoretical account for private agricultural capitalist economy ( Walker 2004 ) , but it sets the tendency in nutrient and agribusiness by “ altering the universe one repast at a clip ” ( Guthman, 2008, p.1178 ) . California is the United States ‘ top export province for agricultural merchandises by a big border in volume and diverseness but besides the planetary leader in agricultural invention in the universe nutrient market. This is because California has the available resources to accommodate to and act upon these alterations.

Grimmway Farms and Organic demand

An illustration of a farm that every bit had to accommodate to altering demands is Grimmway Farms in Arvin, California ( Maglinte and Kurosaka, 2006, p.12 ) . Grimmway Farms works to react rapidly to consumers altering demands. They started out as little produce stall in 1968 and are now the universe ‘s largest manufacturer of carrots in the industry. They have adopted legion advanced procedures to supply quality while maintaining monetary values low. The major supermarkets are demanding a focal point on organic green goods, and the farm is altering its procedures for this demand. Primarily, consumer consciousness and instruction has led to this demand. However, organic green goods is more labour intensifier and is non really compatible with farming techniques prior to the organic roar. In any instance, Grimmway is well-positioned to get by with this demand. In fact, the full province of California is the leader in organic agriculture, holding more organic cropland than any other province ( USDAERS, 2010 ) .

Role of Technology

California ‘s focal point on invention is driving technological promotion that improves production efficiency through sustainable methods. Two illustrations include GPS controlled micro tractors, and detector controlled drip irrigation ( Maglinte and Kurosaka, 2006, p.13 ) . Technology is besides happening solutions to environmental direction, bettering issues related to air and H2O quality, biodegradable plastics and packaging, infringing urban development and renewable energy. Leftover agricultural waste such as rice straw and fruit and nut trees can be recycled and used in building and industrial applications.

Communicationss in supply concatenation efficiencies

Progresss in communicating engineering have played a critical function in the development in supply concatenation efficiencies. Examples of betterments include category direction, electronic informations exchange, point of sale informations and scan based stock list systems. These engineerings have efficaciously enabled existent clip analysis of consumer tendencies, and have significantly improved timing of logistics which consequences in improved quality of green goods. In add-on, the cyberspace has enabled little concerns to entree greater markets which has improved the handiness of diverse, Californian merchandises to the broader market.

Government Intervention

Government intercession improves the rate of invention by puting more in research, as underinvestment is inevitable in the private sector. The job is due to the fact that private investors can merely capture a little part of the returns in certain types of research, due to the ‘free rider ‘ job. Therefore, inducements to put are reduced ; an illustration being the development of new harvest assortments. Conversely, if the research is protected and kept secret, the proprietor of the new assortment can over-charge clients, which will restrict the usage of that assortment as the costs will be passed to the consumer. As such, the determination to utilize Intellectual belongings rights has no true advantage ; while they provide greater inducement for investing, the likeliness of acceptance is lower. Governments have addressed this job by funding agricultural research in impersonal, public evidences like the United States Department of Agriculture. This allows the maximization of research without the jobs mentioned. This in bend provides maximal benefit for the economic system of California Agriculture ( Alston, 2004 ) . However, a job for the hereafter is that funding for agricultural research is worsening, due to worsening political support. As a consequence, private research is turning at a greater rate that public ( Alston, et al. , 2000 ) .



The hereafter for California Agriculture should be focused on ego sustaining, low-input, diversified and energy-efficient systems surrounded by the construct of sustainable production ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . Researchers, husbandmans, policy shapers and the populace all demand to play an active function in the execution of such sustainable practises. Indeed, the function of instruction is indispensable. Progresss in biological plague control and low input, organic agriculture methods provide the footing to travel frontward to this sustainable result. A primary factor finding the sustainability of agribusiness in California is the continual variegation of the agricultural landscape. This can be improved through harvest rotary motions and sequences, intercropping and the similar. This will ensue in natural plague ordinance, efficient food recycling and energy preservation without the demand for increased cultural input. However, while extensively researched, this attack will merely work on the conditions that it is economically feasible and able to be executed within the restrictions of current agricultural systems ( Alttieri 1992 ) . Therefore, a gradual integrating of these methods would be desirable.

Population additions

Projected growing in California between now and 2040 is around 70 per cent addition. While non every bit rapid as the last 40 old ages, it is still a important rise. This will surely hold an impact on the market as production will necessitate to go more efficient and higher in volume to run into supply with demand, while staying sustainable in practise. The issue of H2O scarceness will merely go more prevent as the population additions. As such, Farrell ( 1991 ) has identified five requirements at the procedure degree that are required for H2O resource stableness:

Water preservation

Land H2O banking

Water recycling

Salt balance direction

Proper H2O selling and pricing

Since Farrell wrote these cardinal demands about 20 old ages ago, California has directed a big sum of resources into implementing these enterprises. Therefore, the province is in a good place to take advantage in population growing on the province, national and planetary degrees every bit long as incomes represent equal growing. However, these rules will ever supply the footing for sustainable usage of H2O supply in California.

Vulnerability to external dazes

The demand-driven nature of California agribusiness makes it vulnerable to its external environment ( Gianni Foundation, 2003 ) . As such, growing, recession, depression and planetary economic events can impact on monetary values significantly. It is argued that the liberalization of single states could do instability in the hereafter for planetary markets ( Bussmann et al. , 2006 ) . A displacement off from controlled fiscal flows and the execution of take downing of trade barriers should see additions in economic stableness.


California agribusiness has proven that it is an highly robust and strong industry. Even after the changeless reverses including wartime, drouths, the depression and most late the Global fiscal Crisis, it has emerged stronger and more capable to manage future crises. California agribusiness in 2010 is much different from what it was in 1810, 1910 or even 1950. It has continued to develop into a larger, more diverse, efficient and progressively more dynamic environment. As such, it will go on to turn in these countries, increasing in its strength to undertake future hazards. However, its on-going successes will non merely merely go on, it requires the continuity and continual development of the engagement of the affected stakeholders.


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