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Study Shows Economic Benefit of Imperial County’s Agriculture

-Editorial

The Imperial Valley has been known for its rich agriculture and production that has given the county much-needed revenue for the last 100 years.

The recently released annual Livestock and Crop Report Plus was presented to the Imperial County Board of Supervisors at the Aug. 3rd meeting. This report took an important step beyond to quantify agriculture’s total economic contributions through food production, local food processing, employment, and economic “multiplier effects.”

The main question when doing this study is “what’s agriculture’s role in sustaining a healthy local economy?”

The California Food and Agriculture Code requires every county to report the “value” of agriculture. That includes the production, the process, multiplier effect, and employment. A growing trend the report showed is that 20 California counties have reported that agriculture’s fuller value in this way. The other counties include Contra Costa, Glenn, Inyo, Monterrey, San Mateo, among others.

There are two kinds of multiplier effects. Indirect local “business to business” spending by agricultural companies such as equipment, fuel, seeds, insurance, veterinary services, banking, fertilizer, chemicals, contract labor, etc.

The other is induced which is “consumer spending” by agricultural-related employees. That includes groceries, health care, utilities, clothing, transportation, education, entertainment, etc.

The agricultural total economic impact to Imperial County is $4.364 billion which is 23.9 percent of the county total. Of that, $2.919 in direct economic output having $1.145 billion in multiplier effects. There is a benefit of $498,000 per hour or 12 million per day.

On the employment effects of the agricultural industry, there are 20,412 total agricultural jobs, out of those, there are 6,940 additional jobs attributable to the multiplier effect: expenditures by agricultural companies and their employees. One in six jobs in Imperial County is directly attributable to the agricultural industry.

Imperial County Agricultural’s Economic Diversification Index stands at 0.69 which is exceptionally high diversification provides critical economic resilience within agricultural and the wider county economy.

In a related action, the board approved the scholarship match to forty qualifying students for Agricultural Benefit Program scholarships.

The Imperial County Agricultural Benefit program was established to mitigate losses of Ag production, Ag Jobs, and our local economy resulting from renewable energy developments on farmland in Imperial County. One of the areas supported for funding by the Board of Supervisors is education, especially scholarship for students majoring in agriculture.

This has been implemented as a program where qualifying degree-specific scholarships awarded by other organizations to Imperial County students majoring in agriculture or a closely related field are given a matching scholarship from the Board of Supervisors.

On January 23, 2018, the board approved to match qualifying scholarships for the Agricultural Benefit Scholarship Matching Program up to $75,0000 in a total amount not to exceed $3,000 per student per academic year. The Agricultural Benefit Advisory Committee met on July 29 and voted to recommend to the Board of Supervisors to fund up to $75,000 and to pro-rate an 89% match to each qualifying student. Forty qualifying students will receive a cumulative total of $74,715.50.

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