Today, March 18, is National Ag Day, when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, and governmental agencies across America gather to recognize and celebrate all that agriculture contributes to American life. Here in California, we also celebrate California Ag Day at the same time, in recognition of our state’s central role in American agriculture.
Did you know that over a third of the country’s vegetables and nearly two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are produced in California?1 In fact, California sets the pace as the nation’s leading agricultural exporter, and almonds are proud to play our part as the second most valuable commodity (in terms of total production value) in the state.1
California’s 80,500 farms and ranches account for 15 percent of national crop revenue, and according to the 2012 USDA Ag Census, around 6,800 of those farm almonds.1 A unique aspect of California farming is that 93% of farms in California are family farms. Specifically, more than 91% of California almond farms are family farms.2
From the orchard to the manufacturing facility, the California almond industry as a whole actually generates about 104,000 jobs statewide, adding about $11 billion dollars to the size of the state’s total economy.3
Of course, almonds are only one of California’s more than 400 commodities, but, dollar terms aside, they’re one that packs value in a multitude of ways. An always versatile ingredient and the perfect snack, almonds are ounce for ounce the tree nut highest in protein (6g), fiber, calcium (8% DV), vitamin E (35% DV), riboflavin (20% DV) and niacin (6% DV), and a top food source of magnesium (20% DV). Almonds have 6 grams of plant protein per ounce and are naturally gluten and dairy-free.4
Ag Day is an opportunity to reflect on California’s agricultural heritage and the progressive research-based practices used by today’s farmers. Further, it’s a time to dialogue about the future of agriculture and how it can continue to contribute to the economy and the state in a positive way.
Almond growers continue to adapt production practices based on the ongoing research on which our industry relies. From research on almond health to insights into sustainability5 and efficiency of production, the Almond Board continues its commitment to learning more and invested more than $2.5 million dollars in 2014 alone. Looking forward, the Almond Board is dedicated to ensuring that California almonds remain a safe, high quality product for consumers in the most sustainable way possible.
So next time you’re driving through the farms and orchards of the Central Valley browsing the aisles of your local grocery store, or eating a meal, we hope you’ll be reminded of the crucial role that agriculture plays in our daily lives. California’s farmers don’t just feed America and put Americans to work, we work together with our neighbors to solve the challenges that face California today and into the future.