California crops become frequent flyers
» June 20, 2006 «
To be there first with the best, California produce shippers increasingly rely on air transportation to send their highly perishable crops to faraway destinations.
Ships, trucks and trains carry most California crops bound for foreign customers, but the immediacy of air transport has convinced a growing number of shippers to turn their crops into frequent flyers.
The volume of California farm goods transported on airplanes has risen 60 percent since 2000, according to a study by the Center for Agricultural Business at California State University, Fresno, and could double or even triple in the next 20 years. Air transport has been particularly attractive to marketers of short-shelf-life crops such as cherries, strawberries and asparagus.
"These are companies or businesses that want to be first on the market with seasonal commodities at the beginning of the season," international trade consultant Jock O'Connell told the California Farm Bureau newspaper Ag Alert®.
More than one third of California's cherry crop moves by air, said Jim Culbertson of the California Cherry Advisory Board.
"During the height of our season going to Asia, we tie up almost as much space on airplanes as we can possibly find," he said.
California farms and ranches lead the nation in export sales. Foreign customers bought more than $8 billion worth of the state's crops and commodities in 2004, the most recent year for which full statistics are available. The CSU Fresno study set the value of air-shipped farm exports at $659 million. Though that's a fraction of California's overall exports, the total still represents more than the entire farm exports of 23 other states.
"Increasing exports of California farm products leads to more jobs in our cities," California Farm Bureau Federation President Doug Mosebar said. "Marketers, warehouse workers, port and air-freight workers and many others can trace their city-based jobs to the fields and ranches of California."
Ag Alert, the most-read agricultural publication in California, is published each week by the California Farm Bureau Federation. Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization, works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 88,000 members.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.Top