Governor: Agriculture cultivates brighter future
Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wednesday that Nevada agriculture is becoming a targeted sector for growth, on a base exceeding $5 billion, as his administration revises economic development plans. The state’s Republican chief executive, accepting a 2013 Nevada Agriculture Report identifying strengths, gaps and disconnects in state agribusiness, made the prediction at a Carson Nugget breakfast hosted by Northern Nevada Development Authority.“Its future is bright,” Sandoval said of farming, ranching and related businesses. He did so after regaling his audience about his youth in 4-H and ag-related activities, which helped him save for his first car. Whether agriculture’s future will prove as bright as that first car may be geared to taking advantage of opportunities in the report and building on an estimated $5.3 billion sector impact, a figure based on 2010 data. That first Sandoval car was an orange 1971 Volkswagen bug, he told the audience ranging from those in agribusiness and agricultural production to Northern Nevada public officials.Perhaps the brightness and foreign origin of that vehicle, along with his prediction, were fitting because Sandoval and his economic development team plan to ballyhoo the state’s ag-related prospects worldwide.“What we’re understanding now is that we’re competing against the rest of the world,” the governor said as he praised successful cooperation to forge the report and tap markets everywhere.For example, he said, Nevada’s agriculture story was an integral part of the state’s recent trade mission to China. At the same time, he said, Nevada’s locally grown products won’t all wind up as exports.“We are going to have a very aggressive effort to put Nevada food in Nevada schools,” he said. Sandoval seemed in an upbeat mood, joking that had he known so many state legislators would be in the audience he would have prepared a longer speech. “I’ve got a filibuster in me,” he said.He all but brought the house down as he talked of youthful work in sheep pens, saying he had to clean them out on occasion. “It was good practice for what I do now,” he joked. But the bulk of his remarks stayed serious, including assurances he had read the report even before accepting it officially on Wednesday. He indicated it demonstrates agriculture and agribusiness will become huge drivers for the state’s economy.An executive summary shows that Southern Nevada accounted for nearly $3 billion of the state’s agriculture and agribusiness sector, based on the document’s 3-year-old data. The northern part — excluding northeastern Nevada — accounted for nearly $2 billion. Northeastern Nevada, sparsely populated and some of it mining country, was well under $500 million. A summary graph also showed much more ag processing and packaging in the north than in the southern part of the state.Among other findings are that nearly 61,000 jobs were linked to agriculture and that the ag “cluster” is well-positioned for the future growth Sandoval and his administration anticipate. Rob Hooper, executive director of the host NNDA, concluded the gathering by saying Nevada has the necessary resources to grow the sector, building on existing agribusiness with more processing, distribution and wholesale companies.“Now the heavy lifting begins,” he said.