Sunday, April 21, 2013

The mystique of the San Joaquin Valley

The mystique of the San Joaquin Valley

September 10, 2029

Weekly Report Posted: December 09, 2012 03:08

By some estimates, federal restrictions on shallow well irrigation systems threaten the productivity of the San Joaquin Valley, which produces the majority of the 12.8% of the United States' agricultural production (as measured by dollar value) that comes from California. Grapes—table, raisin, and to a lesser extent wine—are perhaps the valley's highest-profile product, but equally (if not more) important are cotton, nuts (especially almonds and pistachios), citrus, and vegetables. Though it has been called "The food basket of the World", the San Joaquin Valley has not been nationally recognized for the diversity of its produce. Oranges, peaches, garlic, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, hay, alfalfa and numerous other crops have been harvested with great success. The J. G. Boswell Company's farming operation in Kings County is the largest single cotton farm in the world, occupying over 162 square kilometres (40,000 acres). Certain places are identified quite strongly with a given crop: Stockton produces the majority of the domestic asparagus consumed in the United States, and Fresno is the largest producer of the raisin, originally a Middle Eastern commodity.

In spite of its agricultural productivity, the San Joaquin Valley has the state's highest rate of food insecurity.

Cattle and sheep ranching are also vitally important to the valley's economy. During recent years, dairy farming has greatly expanded in importance. As areas such as Chino and Corona have become absorbed into the suburban sprawl of Los Angeles, many dairy farmers have cashed out and moved their herds to Kings, Tulare, and Kern counties. Since dairy farms emit considerable quantities of methane and other pollutants, this has exacerbated the region's air quality problems.

Between 1990 and 2004, 28,092 hectares (70,231 acres) of agricultural land was lost to urban development in the San Joaquin Valley. In an effort to confront the problem of urban sprawl, the eight Valley counties are participating in a "regional blueprint planning process" that may result in denser developments and more public transportation.

California has long been one of the nation's most important oil-producing states, and the San Joaquin Valley has long since eclipsed the Los Angeles Basin as the state's primary oil production region. Scattered oil wells on small oil fields are found throughout the region, and several enormous extraction facilities – most notably near Lost Hills and Taft, including the enormous Midway-Sunset Oil Field, the third-largest oil field in the United States – are veritable forests of pumps.

Shell operated a major refinery in Bakersfield; it was sold in 2005 to Flying J, a Salt Lake-based firm that operates truck stops and refineries. Flying J's bankruptcy in 2009 resulted in the refinery being shut down.

The oil and gas fields in Kern County are receiving increased attention since the July 2009 announcement by Occidental Petroleum of significant discovery of oil and gas reserves Even prior to this discovery the region retains more oil reserves than any other part of California. Of California fields outside of the San Joaquin Valley, only the Wilmington Oil Field in Los Angeles County has untapped reserves greater than 100,000,000 barrels (16,000,000 m3), while six fields in the San Joaquin Valley (Midway-Sunset, Kern River, South Belridge, Elk Hills, Cymric, and Lost Hills) each have reserves exceeeding 100,000,000 barrels (16,000,000 m3) of oil.

The isolation and vastness of the San Joaquin Valley, as well as its poverty and need for jobs, have led the state to build numerous prisons in the area. The most notable of these is Corcoran, whose inmates include Charles Manson and Juan Corona. Other correctional facilities in the valley are at Avenal, Chowchilla, Tracy, Delano, Coalinga, and Wasco.

The only significant military base in the region is Naval Air Station Lemoore, a vast air base located 25 kilometres (16 mi) WSW of Hanford. Unlike many of California's other military installations, NAS Lemoore's operational importance has increased in the 1990s and 2000s. The other, Castle Air Force Base, located near Atwater was closed during the Base Realignment and Closure of the 1990s. Although both are in Kern County, Edwards Air Force Base and China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station are located in the High Desert area of that county.

The United States Census Bureau issued a report entitled the American Community Survey in 2007, which found that six San Joaquin Valley counties had the highest percentage of residents living below the federal poverty line in 2006 of any counties in California. The report also revealed that the same six counties were among the 52 counties with the highest poverty rate in the United States. In most Valley cities crime rates such as burglary, theft, and assault tend to be significantly higher than the national averages.

No comments:

Post a Comment