Farming in Rural; Living in Urban

Seal of Santa Clara County, California

Was an 'Ag' Valley, Delightful in Heart

As for farming in California, that’s not in jeopardy, at least from urbanization. Water is a different story. By the way, the people moving to the Central Valley are really competing with the farms for water. That’s not much of a future problem along the coasts, if changes are made. San Diego has already started desalination. More coastal cities can develop that, especially when combined with a power plant (nuclear). Desalination at its best price can cost between 3-4 times normal. That’s not too bad when the price is averaged out with other the other water sources, it would be a lot less. Example: 20% of water from the ocean, at triple pricing, results in costs only 40% higher (=3×20%+80%). That would be pricey for industry, but many people don’t want heavy manufacturing here, despite some resistance to China and other importers. Water-use heavy industry can go back to the Rust Belt

Land for agriculture is more interchangeable. The price mechanism should be used for private land; probably government land too. Cities can help some financing through land sales. If land is given a monetary value, it becomes more useful. There has not been much farmland lost to urbanization in California; that can be seen in the 2 charts below. There is actually more land that can be used for agriculture. Irrigation is part of the main thing. Most of CA is semi-arid, and not that naturally productive.

The breakdown for CA foodstuffs can be seen at the right. Santa Clara County has a very small contribution, only 0.6% of the total. Limiting development in the county has actually been very expensive. If that supply of land was available, with the marketplace left for natural processes of private development, it can be theorized that housing could easily be $100,000 less, per unit. The County’s population might be 200,000 more. And there would be more jobs to support that too. It is now hard for businesses to locate here with the need to pay employees such a high amount. For what farmland is unused for human habitation here, there has probably been more converted in the Central Valley. People sometimes ignore that halting new development is not a question of new people existing, but where. This type of thinking fails the “protect the environment”, as well as the greater good, which is a fallacy. People are denying others a place to live, and the exercise of property rights. What if people kept the San Jose Valley full of delightful orchards instead? Should housing in San Mateo County be really dense and cost $900,000 per unit? Do people go visit Coyote Valley to see salad ingredients growing? That could be trespassing.

For agriculture world-wide, the U.S. ranks in 5th place, shown in the chart, below-right. That dollar amount is measured in PPP (purchasing power parity). Three of those 4 areas that have more farm output are smaller, and 3 are also denser. So, our country as a whole has a lot more capacity for farming. That might start being used, with the higher food prices. By the way, ethanol is another example of a good intention gone bad. Even disregarding the higher food prices, it’s a no-win situation. There is considerable oil that goes into the production, as well as a $0.50 a gallon subsidy—not for oil companies, but for Cargill, ADM & others. Actually, sugar cane is much more suitable for ethanol, but that might not even be worth it.

The amount of farmland taken out of production, is incredibly much less than the amount of land that has become urbanized. There is not a shortage of land. Gov regs create scarcity. China and India each have more farm output than the US. GM food is great, which includes most produce and about all livestock, and has increased productivity. Are you concerned about horror movie stuff?


About Randall
A contrarian, not for conflict, but because many decisions are made, without considering the full impact & consequences.

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