Many vegetables, particular tomatoes, lettuce and cabbage are grown on vast scales within the Central Valley of California. Rather than being sown, they are transplanted after starting life in a controlled environment, or greenhouse. Our Nuffield group spent the morning with Westside Transplants at their Firebaugh depot near Fresno to find out more.
A shortage of labour and an increasing minimum wage is arguable the biggest challenge facing Californian farmers and as a result, they are looking for technologies to address this issue. Visiting an asparagus farm in the Central Valley of California, our Nuffield group got to grips with the labour challenges that are facing the Californian agri-sector.
How many of us were sent off to school with a small box of Sun Maid Raisins with our packed lunch? Visiting the Sun Maid’s headquarters in Kingsburg, Fresno in California certainly brought back memories for me. Our Nuffield group spent a couple of hours learning about the raisin market and how raisins are produced.
Hosted by Superior Farms, our Nuffield Group had private tour around their huge meat processing facility near Dixon in California that sees lambs in the last stages of life through slaughter to packaging of the final individual meat cuts.
Visiting a mandarin packing plant the size of 11 football pitches – the largest in the world, our Nuffield Group learned that California is definitely forging ahead in dominating the US market share in supplying mandarins the consumer.
Visiting one of the largest feedlot operations on the western coast of the US, I learned about beef production on an unimaginable scale when our Nuffield Group were lucky enough to be hosted by the Harris Feedlot Company. Covering nearly 800 acres, the Harris Feedlot is located within California’s San Joaquin Valley, and has a capacity to produce 250,000 head of fed cattle per year.
Increasing the awareness of agriculture through education in the classroom is vitally important, if we as an industry are to bridge the knowledge gap between the consumer and producer. In California, through a non-profit charitable organisation, they have implemented a novel approach in the classroom which is having a huge success, particularly in urban areas, such as LA and San Francisco. Our Nuffield Group found out more through our visit to the Farm Bureau Federation in Sacremento.
Visiting Nuseed, a global seed company, our Nuffield group learned about sunflower genetics, sorghum hybrids and why the Sacramento Valley in California is such an ideal location for seed and plant breeding.
Our morning visit to Westlands Water District’s office in Fresno, California was a poignant reminder that without water, food will not grow. The Central Valley in California produces 15% of the total US agricultural output, but only on 1% of the total US farmland area. California is in drought and therefore finding a solution to the water crisis is paramount, and it needs to carefully address both the demands of urban and rural needs.
Farmland enjoys a unique position as an investment opportunity, particularly when it is located within a region of the world capable of producing one of the most sort after food products, almonds. Our Nuffield group were lucky enough to spend the day with a leading global asset management company and visited their nut producing farms.
Our Nuffield group were lucky enough to spend a morning visiting Maddox Farms and to learn and understand how Maddox Dairy had grown over the last 30 years to help shape the Californian dairy industry.