Eyler Files Research on Agriculture's Impact on the North Bay Economy

Have you ever wondered what impact local agriculture has on the economy? A new report completed by the Center for Regional Economic Analysis (CREA) at Sonoma State University reveals that it is quite a large one. For every 100 agricultural workers, there are, on average, 38 additional jobs supported, producing $15.8 million in business revenue, and $521,000 in state and local tax receipts.

The report looks at the way North Bay farmers build value in their products for dairy, grass-fed beef and grain operations in the North Bay. This report was commissioned by UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County, in partnership with various agencies around the North Bay.

Dr. Robert Eyler, a professor at Sonoma State University, spoke about the findings of the report recently at the Economic Development Forum for the North Coast Region.

"The objectives of the research were to identify the value chain for dairies in Sonoma and Marin counties, as well as grass-fed beef ranching and grain farming in Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Marin, and Sonoma counties," said Eyler.

Value-added activities are done by farmers to transform livestock or crops into a salable product. Differences in local findings compared to industry benchmarks, especially regional comparisons to state and national models of firms in the same industry, provide policy makers with insight to what regional challenges farmers, ranchers, and support industries face.

- Piper Watkins

Analyzing value chains can also identify regional needs when goods and services to support farming and ranching do not exist and thus come at a higher price (i.e. earning less profit from trying to add more value).

The economic impact analyses provide estimates of how each agricultural business in this report affects both job creation, and generates business and tax revenues in the North Bay. Each economic impact analysis is based on 100 workers in each county for each industry.

Policy makers can use the economic impact data to understand the broad economic impact that these agricultural industries have on the North Bay region, and the other industries involved in both supplying and supporting agriculture. They can also use the data to understand how each industry's expansion can affect the expansion of other businesses.

The Sonoma and Marin counties' agricultural industry (dairy, grass-fed beef ranching, and grain farming combined) generated a total of $47.4 million in business revenue and $1.6 million in state and local tax receipts. For every 100 agricultural workers, there are numerous additional jobs supported throughout the counties: 31 by dairies, 63 by grass-fed beef ranching, and 21 by grain farming.

This economic activity supports industries as diverse as food manufacturing to medical practices, from investment banking and accounting, to bars and restaurants. North Bay agriculture, through its economic impacts, has a broad reach through the regional economy.

The value chains for farmers show that they must purchase both labor and supplies, which direct regional economic development efforts, to provide local sources of each to support these important industries.

- Piper Watkins

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