Commentary: Do you know the answer?

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Q. Which industry has the biggest impact on job creation in California?

A. Wine
B. Dairy
C. Film & TV

The answer is B, the dairy industry.

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at some figures reported by the California Milk Advisory Board. In 2008, the California dairy industry was responsible for 443,574 jobs; the wine industry was responsible for 330,000 jobs, and in 2007 film and TV were responsible for 208,230 jobs.

Here is a little more food for thought: A typical dairy cow in 2008 generated $34,165 of economic activity. Every four dairy cows are equal to one job. Ten on-the-farm jobs lead to 222 beyond-the-farm jobs. While these figures are specific to California, they translate to a greater or lesser degree across the country.

What I find to be interesting about these figures, particularly in the last week or two, is that the agriculture industry doesn’t seem to be a part of President Obama’s plan to jump-start the economy.

I’m not an economist by any means, but the figures from the California Milk Advisory Board make me think that perhaps the stimulus money is being spent in the wrong areas -- especially when you take into consideration just how much money has been spent and not much has happened.

In an AgriTalk interview last week, House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas mentioned that almost $4 trillion in stimulus money has been spent. The President is also looking for another half a trillion dollars in stimulus money. At the same time, the Obama Administration is outlining billions in Ag spending cuts.

Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps if the goal is to try and stimulate the economy, perhaps we’re making the wrong cuts. Don’t get me wrong the deficit is absurd and needs to be fixed but the figures from the California Milk Advisory Board really make me think the Obama Administration is going about stimulating the economy in the wrong manner. As someone recently told me, when you cut $100 bills to try and save money, sometimes you’re really bending over to pick up pennies.

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PA  |  September, 23, 2011 at 09:11 AM

Tulare and Merced counties have poverty rates nearly double the rate of the rest of CA according to the Census Bureau, and have higher unemployment rates than the rest of CA. Surely this would not be the case in the two biggest dairy counties if these number were realistic.

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