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Bill Mattos: California agriculture helps feed the world

AG DAY IS REALLY ALL MONTH. Various organizations and people are celebrating Ag Day and/or Ag Week all this month. As you now know, this newspaper is celebrating this week. Agriculture, after all is the business that keeps our West Side growing and getting better. Farming has always been an important activity here, and our communities were founded by farmers and agriculturists. Our own State of California is celebrating Ag Day this week as well. Regardless of when you salute our farmers and ranchers, this is the right time to do it. Why is Ag Day so important? Well, in 1930, 30percent of farmers worked an average of 100 days per year off their farms while in 2002 that number reached 93 percent. In 1950 one farmer could produce enough to feed 30 people and in 2010 a farmer produced enough to feed 155 people. So if production had stayed at 1950 levels, in 2010, 151 million people would have no food. That is equivalent to the total population of our nine most populous states: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia. That information alone is a good reason to salute our farmers. Another big reason is the fact that our communities live or die on the success for agriculture.

MARCH SHOWERS BRINGS APRIL FLOWERS. Yes, it’s all happening a little later than usual; the rain finally showed up, our gardens are growing again even with flowers planted last fall, and it looks like the water situation is improving, although not perfect. And as April approaches and Easter is upon us, it’s also time to watch our farms begin to grow around us…..

PERFECT TIME TO GIVE TO TOSCA AND GUSTO.  Both Newman and Gustine will be celebrating their students in the coming months when they honor their graduates and students with scholarships from two of the best student scholarship foundations I’ve ever seen in communities of our size. Both organizations are looking for contributions now for their upcoming events, and I urge you to consider a donation of any size to help make their year’s contributions some of the highest on record. Our students have earned our support, and I think this could be a very good year for them, thanks to their hard work over the years.

FOSTER FARMS AND WILLIE BROWN PROMOTE AG DAY! This week Sacramento was hopping with booths promoting agriculture on the State Capitol Grounds. Family-owned Foster Farms led a press conference featuring Assembly members Fiona Ma (San Francisco), Cathleen Galgiani, Senator Anthony Cannella and former Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Brown, a powerful guy, who also helped agriculture in various ways when he was Speaker, talked about his love for food, California Grown products and why buying local makes sense. It was a different venue for him, but a role he filled well. Now if every Californian would eat only California Grown food on one day a week it would swell our economy by more than $26 billion dollars. Now that’s a lot of dough!!!!