The Growth of Agronomist in California. I choose for my assignment an article in the April/May 2011 California Agriculture Journal entitled “California Agronomist operations and their economic potential are growing. ” Being a native Californian and having experience working on farms in the central valley I am aware of the struggles many farmers have operating their farm. There is a very slim profit margin. There is an increase in regulations and permits that are required. Many farmers are looking at other ways to increase their profit.
This article explained why many farmers, ranchers, and wineries are creating agronomist profits on the side. It begins by defining what agronomist is. Agronomist includes any income generated activity on a working farm, ranch, vineyard, etc. A more rounded definition I found is “Agronomist is generally defined as activities that include visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation to enjoy, be educated or be involved in what is happening at that locale. Neither of these definition is not used by the USDA however. In fact, the
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USDA does not have a uniform definition or standard as to what constitutes agronomist. In 2007, 2. 4 million visitors to the state of California spent approximately 35 million dollars on agronomist as reported by the agronomist operators. This is up from 6. 5 million spent in 2002. Revenues are expected to increase annually. The growth in the agronomist industry over the last 10 years have increased the demand for a standardized definition of what constitutes agronomist. In response to this need the ACE Agricultural Tourism workshop convened a survey study team.
There Job was to “identify key areas that would enhance the general understanding of agronomist in California”. They created surveys for operators to fill out. Questions ranged from products and services offered, advertising used, motivation, operations, employees and profitability. This survey, the first of its kind in California, generated substantial information for operators about the agronomist industry and it profitability. It also created a data base of agronomist operators in the state of California.
Most respondents were small family farms, ranches, and wineries. The majority of respondents stated that their primary motivation for branching out into agronomist was to relieve financial stress. They needed an alternative form of income to support their farm. Second, the stated that they needed a way to market farm products. Some of the more profitable agronomist activities are tours/lectures, demonstrations/lessons/ participation, special events (weddings), and direct sales. The respondents also shared a number of obstacles they have encountered.
Zoning, permitting, environmental health regulations, liability and insurance issues were the most moon concerns that many operators cited. Most farmers were “frustrated and overwhelmed with county polices and procedures as well as the expense to initiate or expand” their agronomist on their farm or ranch. Although California has yet to streamline the process many other states, such as Georgia and Missouri, have started the process. I see this “industry’ growing in importance, as well as financially, in the coming years. I was surprises at now much It NAS grown In ten last II years.
I nerve was an almost six fold increase between 2002 and 2007. In order for farmers to make profit, especially organic farmers, they must be creative in how they market and sale their product or their farm. An example of creative marketing is the Delouse Farms Mud run. Just last month my boys ran a three mile run through the farm. It is a year round working farm. This time of year they have dry corn stalks and pumpkins. Half of the farm is fallow. They set up an obstacle course through mud and charged fifty dollars a person to run. There was approximately 3000 runners on one Saturday.
Half of the profit went to the local food bank but that still left a lot of refit for the farm. I believe that many people are interested in experiencing activities on a farm, ranch, or vineyard. I was also surprised by Californians lack of leadership in regulating the industry. Because of the size of our Gag industry California should be on the leading edge of regulation and standards. Unfortunately we are following instead of leading. In the future, I believe agronomist will be a factor when considering business opportunities in the field of Horticulture. It has great profit potential as well as educational potential.
When we educate the public bout horticulture and agriculture we are investing in our future. The benefits of agronomist in California are enormous. It creates a profit for a large number of small family farms and ranches. It no only benefits the individual farms but also the rural communities surrounding the farms. California is a state of agriculture, the “breadbasket to the world”. As the population increases there is stress on our farms, a pressure between the rural and urban, land use and water use. Agronomist brings the individual back to the farm. They gain an appreciation for agriculture and all that it contributes to our state.