Made with Pride in the Central Valley

  • Written by Matthew Rosenfeld, Vice President/General Manager KSEE24, CBS47 and Immediate Past Chair of the Fresno Chamber Board of Directors

California’s Central Valley, our home, is one of the most productive agricultural regions anywhere. We’re often referred to as the “Breadbasket of the World.” Impressive, right?

But our manufacturing contributions don’t stop there. There are hundreds of products that are made here and then shipped all over the state, country and planet.

Sure ‘Buy Local’ proponents ask us to seek and support local products and companies and that’s important. But it’s more than mere economics. It’s pride, even if those local products don’t stay here.

We have a lot to brag about. But we have a lot to learn, too.

Most people are unaware of the impact of exporting that originates in our backyard. Export reports reveal that Fresno’s metropolitan area exports more than $4.5 Billion worth of goods and services annually.  

It will come as no shock to you that agriculture leads the way. In 2012 agriculture represented 24.1% of all exports from our metropolitan area per the Washington DC-based Brookings Institute. (brookings.edu)

The Fresno County Farm Bureau reported a total of 21,818 phytosanitary certificates were issued in 2012 for 194 commodities to export markets in 95 Countries around the world.  A phytosanitary certificate is an official document issued by the plant protection organization of the exporting country to the plant protection organization of the importing country to indicate that consignments of plants, plant products or other regulated articles meet specified import requirements. 

You may be surprised to learn the top 10 destination for Fresno County agriculture exports were (1) Japan, (2) China, (3) Republic of Korea, (4) Mexico, (5) Taiwan, (6) Hong Kong, (7) Canada, (8) Spain, (9) Germany and (10) United Arab Emirates. Don’t forget there are 85 other countries on the list too. To put that into perspective, Fresno County’s top ten commodities total over 871 million pounds of exports annually to countries all over the world.

If agriculture leads the way at 24% there is a long list of other industries exporting out of Fresno County too. Here are some of the top exporting industries: Forestry and fishing (7.8%), meat & poultry (5%), petroleum and coal (4.7%), computer equipment (3.8%), Frozen and canned foods (3.7) and communications equipment (3.3%) to name some of the leaders. To see the entire list you can go to brookings.edu and look under research. It’s fascinating.

How the Fresno metropolitan exporting area ranks with other metro areas in the US is also fascinating. Our exporting ranked the region 68th of 100 metro areas on the total value of its exports and 59th on exports intensity.

Brookings report also showed that Fresno County’s exporting accounted for 9.8% of the county’s gross domestic product in 2012 That’s greater percentage that more than 50% of the 100th largest metropolitan areas in the nation.

These are lists we want to be on, and a source of pride.

So go on, brag to your friends and family that live elsewhere about all things made or grown in the Central Valley. Chances are they are already enjoying them.

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