Agri-Musings: Social Indicators in the SJV

My car was robbed in Modesto while I was attending a Fertilizer Research Education Program Seminar in 2016. Shortly after I discovered the broken window and rummaged baggage, I had lunch with a friend who lives in the area. When I told her about my car, she launched into a diatribe about poverty and social ills in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV).

She passionately believes that the State of California abdicated its responsibilities by not providing adequate incentives for California industries, in particular, Internet Technologies, to invest in the SJV in the late Twentieth Century. It was easier and very NIMBY-esque to export dirty jobs overseas. Consequently, Agriculture became the principal, and in some cases, the sole, employer in many SJV communities. Today, as the state and courts coordinate efforts to radically reduce Agriculture’s footprint in the SJV, negative indicators of social health are skyrocketing in these Ag-dependent communities.

I was intrigued. So, I did some homework. This 2015 article summarizes the unemployment situation in the San Joaquin Valley. It is notable that in 2015, fourteen of 25 US cities with the highest unemployment were in California. Ten of those cities were in the San Joaquin Valley.,

California, as a whole, has a major issue with poverty. Estimates indicate that about 4 in 10 people in California live in or on the edge of poverty. When income is actualized for housing prices, poverty levels (on a percentage basis) are roughly equal across the state.

Not withstanding widespread poverty, many other social indicators are poorer in the SJV. So much so, that the US State Department is concerned the deteriorating social conditions are creating an unstable third world country within the US, that could pose a potential national security threat.

Reposted from Facebook, November 3, 2016