Agriculture is still a boom to state

By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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Ag is good as gold It doesn’t take a California state Assembly resolution declaring March 23 California Agriculture Day to point out the importance of agriculture in the state, but it helps. Farmers and growers in Placer County already know the valuable contribution agriculture continues to make to the economy and to the health and quality of life here. According to the resolution, by Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, of the 17th District in the Stockton area, California produces more than 35 crop and livestock products, accounting for approximately 50 percent of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetable, as well as 850,000 farm-worker jobs. The state also exports $12 billion worth of food and agricultural commodities throughout the world. The Loomis Basin has a rich agricultural heritage, beginning with the shipments of wood, via rail to Sacramento, as early as 875. The late Jo Nute, in a Sacramento City College paper written in the late 1950s, said the wood was from the once-abundant oak and digger pine that covered the area. In “Images of America: Loomis,” a 2009 Loomis Basin Historical Society publication, editor Beth Nute Enright writes about the emergence of fruit ranching that followed the gold rush and the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad to Loomis in 1864, when “peaches, pears, plums, grapes, persimmons, strawberries, cherries, Asian pears and olives thrived.” Today, Placer County grows most of the same produce, as well as a new mix of important crops, including mandarins. Water is a lifeline Water, and its conservation, is vital to agriculture and cities as well. I recently interviewed Gary Liss, a Loomis town councilman, for a story about the Green Ribbon Task Force he had formed when he was mayor last year. One of the recommendations the task force made involves water usage by the Town of Loomis. Liss told me: “The biggest town use of water is at Sunrise Park, $18,000 a year. We had volunteers do a water audit and we found … we could save money and be more efficient in the watering that was going on at Sunrise.” However, Liss now wants to clarify that to say: “What our Green Ribbon Task Force Report said was: ‘The Town has spent over $18,000 on water over the last year. Most of the water is used at Sunrise Loomis Park.’” The story prompted town manager Perry Beck to look into town government water use over the years. “Just how much water does the town use? A lot, and pretty efficiently, too,” Beck said. Placer County Water Agency figures show that in 2005 the town used 6,203,912 gallons of water at a cost of $12,864. In 2006 the town paid $13,019 for 5,043,016 gallons. Subsequent usage grew: 6,315,364 gallons in 2007, $16,551; 6,689,364 gallons in 2008, $18,347; and 6,974,352 gallons in 2009, $19,433. However in 2010, the town’s usage dropped to 5,549,412 gallons at a cost of $16,855. The biggest water user, also from water agency figures, is Sunrise Loomis Park. In 2005, the town paid $4,982 for 3,215,652 gallons of park water. Gallons used decreased to 2,876,060 in 2006, but the cost remained at $4,982. In 2007 it was 3,188,725 gallons, $5,981; 4,136,440 gallons in 2008, $7,846; 3,794,604 gallons in 2009, $7,897; and 2010, 3,441,548 gallons, $7,292. Beck asks that residents call town hall at 652-1840 if they happen to see the sprinkler systems in the park or in the landscaped edges around town leaking or overrunning. “Water is precious and so are your tax dollars. If you have ideas for being water-wise and dollar-wise, call town hall,” he said. Support future farmers If you want to support youth in agriculture and have a good time, attend the 9th Annual Spring Round-up Dinner and Dance, sponsored by the Tahoe Cattlemen’s Association, on Saturday, March 26. It’s at the Blue Goose Fruit Shed; doors open at 6 p.m. and the prime rib dinner, with fixings by Cow Camp, will be served from 7 to 8 p.m. A dessert silent auction, by the Placer Nevada Cattlewomen, will benefit their scholarship fund for agriculture students. A live auction will also support steer and heifer shows, field days, awards at regional fairs, and more scholarships. The Gene Thorpe Band will provide music for dancing. Tickets are $40 per person; call Daryl Consulo at 652-7764 or Bud Taglio at 652-6491.