Irrigation Training Series: Stream For Free!

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How The Drought Is Impacting Agriculture In California

Earn 1 CEU (Continuing Education Unit) For This Training.

Click the CEU logo to submit your request to the IRRIGATION ASSOCIATION.

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Erik Wilson

Grower & Co-Founder of My Job Depends On Ag.

Erik Wilson and Steve Malanca started My Job Depends on Ag to spread the word that everyone depends on agriculture whether they know it or not. Today with the drought in California combined with high temperatures across the country, the world of agriculture is changing rapidly, and we are all connected by and dependent on agriculture.  
 
The cost of drought comes in a variety of forms. Examples of economic impacts include farmers who lose money because drought destroyed their crops or ranchers who may have to spend more money to feed and water their animals. Economic impacts can be both direct, such as decreases in dairy production, and indirect, as seen by increases in the price of cheese.
In addition to the economy, drought also affects the environment and society. For example, drought shrinks the food supplies of animals and damages their habitats. In addition, drought impacts people’s health and safety. Examples of drought impacts on society include reduced incomes, fewer recreational activities, and higher heatstroke incidents.
 

On Friday, Erik Wilson is our guest and will share information about how the drought impacts families and what we can do to minimize or eliminate the stress of the drought.  

Erik Wilson

CO-FOUNDER, MY JOB DEPENDS ON AG

I remember, many years ago, trying to steer an old bike down a dusty road, my fishing rod in one hand and tackling box in the other. When I finally made it to the canal to fish I sat by myself, and realized I was envious of my friends we were visiting. This wasn’t my home; I lived in the city. My dad wasn’t a farmer, and his dad wasn’t a farmer, but I fell in love with Ag that day. Although I was, at the time, without a row to hoe, I find myself now, 32 years later, farming and owning a custom agricultural spraying business. Exactly how this happened, how I went from the city to the farm, makes me a unique advocate for Ag today.

It seems now that somehow every job I had was preparing me for a time to be an advocate for Ag. In my late teenage years I went to work for Save Mart, which provided me with an opportunity to see the jobs created by agriculture in the final step before food is consumed. From there, I went to work as a temporary employee for Georgia Pacific, where I literally saw thousands upon thousands of produce boxes created and all of the jobs created by agriculture for that industry. My next employment was at a nursery, which gave me insight into another valuable agricultural industry. Finally, I worked three years as a gardener/landscaper. During this time, almost all of our customers worked in an ag-related field.

As fate would have it, I fell in love with my wife. When we married, I was still working as a gardener and she was finishing her degree at Fresno State. Her father called us over one evening and offered me an opportunity to work on his ranch. The deal was that if (and that was a BIG if) I could survive working as a field laborer, I could, after many years, possibly farm some ground on my own. The opportunity was worth the gamble. I took it, excited for the future, but soon realized I was going to have to earn it all…nothing was going to be handed to me, and I was going to receive no special treatment. For years, I worked side by side with my father-in-law’s other employees, “learning by doing” all of the things it takes to be a successful farmer.

About three years later, my chance finally came to rent 50 acres from my father-in-law and farm my very first field on my own. After that I found a couple of other fields to rent and, since 2000, have grown cotton, alfalfa, cantaloupes, fresh market tomatoes, honeydews, teff grass, radish for seed, and beardless wheat. But the chance to farm more ground came to end when nearly half of my father in laws ranch was sold. So I needed to find something else to do. I took the money I saved from farming and mortgaged my house to start a custom spraying business, and I’m still doing that today.

Although my first love is to farm, and I will continue to farm whenever possible, I am also very thankful for my work in spraying. My spraying business has introduced to me to the men and women of agriculture. I like to refer to them as the All-Stars of Ag. Those that are still farming truly represent the best of the best that has ever been. And now I am writing a bio for a website directed at telling the stories of ALL the fine men and women whose jobs depend on agriculture. I pray that through My Job Depends on Ag, we can help everyone to appreciate the people who bring food to our table and put clothes on our back.