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Village Rotary hears Ag report

FALLBROOK – On November 17, Eric Larson, executive vice president of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, gave Village Rotary members a brief overview of how agriculture first got started in San Diego County.

After the first Spanish settlers arrived, establishing missions, this was primarily dry land farming and cattle country. As the local people gathered around the missions, crops were planted to feed them.

When World War II was declared, the military saw the need to expand operations in this area, and one of the primary things holding back the expansion of military bases was water. President Roosevelt signed a decree granting the area water from the Colorado River. As the water arrived, so did agriculture as we now know it.

As the population increased, the San Diego area transitioned from dairy, egg and chicken production to flower, vegetable and tree fruit production. With the further increase in population in the area, the dairy, chicken and egg industries relocated.

The nursery crops generate approximately $1.5 billion per year, making San Diego County #12 in agricultural revenue generation for the state, and #33 nation-wide for agriculture dollar generation.

Larson then went on to explain the many challenges facing farmers in the area now, the number one being lack of water, and the second being plant and tree diseases, which have arrived from outside San Diego County.

Larson stressed that the state is now beginning to realize the water problems faced by Southern California and is taking some steps to avert a further water shortage. This will take time, money and good planning.

Larson’s excellent explanation of the history of agriculture in San Diego County, the problems and potential solutions facing agriculture in the area was very timely and generated many questions from the audience.


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