Alfalfa Event in Firebaugh Shows Economics

Industry Gathers In Alfalfa Field to
Show Why We Need Water

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor, and Laurie Greene, Associate Editor

A crowd gathers for what was a dramatic aerial photo.
Showing the economics behind a single crop grown in the San Joaquin Valley was the vision of Steve Malanca, General Manager of Thomason Tractor Co, in Firebaugh. With the help of Gayle Holman, Public Affairs Representative with Westland Water District, more than 200 came together in an alfalfa field, west of Firebaugh, filled with the equipment and services necessary to grow the crop.
Steve Malanca, GM of Thomason Tractor Co, Firebaugh

It was a demonstration on how, without the alfalfa, due to reduced water allocations, there are major impacts on business and humans. The gathering of equipment, suppliers and even cows became an aerial photo, and video that will be publicized on different websites, YouTube and in other print and electronic mediums. “It is our responsibility to tell our story so that this information goes on record in the form of a unique photograph, which we hope to turn into billboard messaging,” said Holman.
Westlands Water District's Gayle Holman

“What we are faced with in 2013 is a limited amount of surface water deliveries throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley. There was probably no irrigation district in the valley that was able to deliver enough water for a full season for the farmers, and we are praying that we get abundant rain and snow this winter,” said Malanca.

Malanca continued, “I think we all know the challenge we have in front of us to get people to understand the importance of the ag economy in Central California. We hope this message will be a way to convey a visual for people to understand what we do out here. Central California grows some of the safest food in the world. As you know, without water here, it can’t happen.”

“We plan on utilizing this video as many places as we can,” Malanca stated. “We hope Firebaugh High School FFA takes this as a challenge with their young social media skills to get this out on the Internet, Facebook and twitter. We would also like to challenge the FFA to share this with every FFA department from Tracy to Bakersfield, Dinuba To Mendota.”

Ken McDonald, Firebaugh City Manager
“This is a regional thing; it is not a Westside thing anymore,” declared Malanca. “We all are majorly dependent on water. And hopefully, with this event, we can convince people that storage and other means to keep the water flowing to the south is going to have to happen. And, I hope we can convince people that we need water storage.”

Thanks went to Doug Britton for offering his field for all the gathers to get their message across.

Ken McDonald, City Manager of Firebaugh, said, “There is no doubt that Firebaugh is one small part of this big Regional effort, and without water and without farming, Firebaugh would be wouldn’t be in existence.”
Firebaugh Area Farmer Chris Herd addresses the crowd.

Chris Herd, a Firebaugh farmer, “to my fellow farmers, our families, our workers, our friends, and those in our communities, the state—300 commodities produced—42 billion dollars farm gate value—and it is all at stake, not just the Westside, but the entire state.”

Below are the detailed items mentioned for alfalfa production. Most of these items were at the alfalfa field event.

Point of Contact
Alfalfa field
20 acres

Prep the field for planting
Tillage tractor - Disk equipment

Soil amendments needs to prep soil

Prep Border

Irrigation crew - need X workers plus X of equipment - pipes, hoses, sprinklers, etc. 

How much water is needed to grow this crop

Bags of seed for planting

Bee hive boxes for Pollinating the flowering plant;

Tanks and equipment for liquid,

Weeds - 
Opt. 1
Sprayers and appropriate product to handle weeds

Weeds - 
Opt. 2
Crop duster

Swather to cut; mower-conditioner to cut

Baler and pick up bales

Loading Bales
Truck to pick up bales

String company that supplies bale ties

Auto Parts Store
Provide various parts for vehicles/equipment associated with movable equipment

Tires for equipment

Fuel trucks to move the product

Vehicle Repair Shop
Repairs on various pieces of vehicles

Crop Insurance
Insurance Company

Insurance Company
Insurance Company for vehicles, equipment, dwellings

Financial institution for loans

Provide financial/tax services for respective businesses

Phone Service
Provide cellular, land and computer service for business lines

Office Supply Store
Office supplies for the business portion of businesses

End user of alfalfa

Stainless steel tanks for milk storage

Drinking milk

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