Museum of the 
City of San Francisco
By Subject
By Year
The Gift Shop

Jap Ban to Force Farm Adjustments

Evacuation of Japanese from California’s agricultural areas will necessitate serious adjustments in farming and marketing of fruits and vegetables in this state farm spokesmen said today. Officials of the California Farm Bureau estimated that 40 per cent of all California’s vegetables were raised by Japanese, with the percentage of fruit lands under their control running somewhat less.

Some types of agricultural produce are practically dominated by Japanese labor or control.

‘Nearly 100 Per Cent’

“Strawberries are nearly 100 per cent under the control of Japanese,” one farm authority said. “The work requires the most arduous form of ‘stoop labor’ and much of it must be done on hands and knees. It is impossible to get any other type of labor than Japanese to stand the pace of the nine-month season.”

Japanese plantings in celery, tomatoes, peppers, are important and it is estimated that they likewise are responsible for nearly 75 per cent of the state’s acreage in cucumbers, onions and spinach.

While officials of the Farm Bureau point out that white farmers can handle the planting of tomatoes this year, the problem of their harvest later will create a real problem.

Early School Closing?

“It has been proposed to close rural schools earlier this year as a potential source of labor for harvesting tomatoes,” one bureau official said.

Other proposals under considerable by farm groups include shutting down relief projects to provide more farm workers, and possible use of Mexican labor.

Lettuce harvests around the Salinas Valley are not expected to be affected where an ample of supply of Filipino labor is available. The valley supplies 90 per cent of the lettuce to the entire country when the flow of “green gold” is at its seasonal peak.

Close watch is also being kept on the possible movement of Italians from the coastal belt, particularly in the artichoke industry which they dominate from Colma to Monterey County. The harvest season is just reaching its peak and will last about another month.

The impending evacuation of Japanese “makes possible a return of the Chinese to the good earth,” The Chinese Press, only all-English Chinese paper in America, said today.

Editor Charles Leong said:

“A few Chinese remember that their parents labored on farms in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys and all along coastal farm areas. Many owned potato and asparagus ranches. In farm centers like Watsonville and Santa Cruz, Chinese at one time owned all the strawberry business.

“But when the old-timers passed on, it seems that the ranch life, a hard life, did not appeal to the second generation. As a result the Japanese today have a monopoly on an industry when the Chinese could have continued to develop... .”

California faces the major problem with the Japanese on farm lands on the West Coast, the census figures reveal, as they are listed as owning 68 million dollars worth of farm lands here and only an additional two million dollars worth of farm lands in Oregon and Washington combined.

The three major clusterings of Japanese in rural areas are in the Sacramento River delta regions, the lower San Joaquin Valley district and the country around Santa Maria and Santa Barbara.

Within the Bay Area the number of farms owned by Japanese are listed as follows: Alameda County, 130; San Mateo County, 71; Contra Costa County, 70; Marin, 4, and Santa Clara, 390.

The Japanese exodus also will hit the lawns and gardens of thousands of Bay Area residents, particularly those on the Peninsula, for there seems no substitute labor supply to replace the hundreds of Japanese gardeners. Fast and efficient workers, some of the Japanese have been caring for from 40 to 50 gardens each.

The entire problem is being studied closely by officials of the California State Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Bureau, and other state and Federal agencies interested in agricultural questions.

‘Japtown’ Problem

Under study locally was the matter of the eventual clearing out of the Japanese section roughly bounded by Geary, Pine, Octavia and Webster-sts, in which several hundred homes and shops are occupied by Japanese.

The 1940 census listed 5280 Japanese—2004 citizens and 2276 aliens—in San Francisco. The majority of them live in the Japanese section. Some have been interned and many more already have moved inland. But possibly 4000 still are there.

What will become of the homes and shops they eventually will vacate is under discussion by real estate organizations. No decision has been reached.

SANTA FE, N.M., March 4.—In the wake of reports that “nearly 3000 Japanese” being evacuated from the Pacific Coast would be interned in New Mexico, Governor John E. Miles today announced his state would co-operate fully. He urged strict methods to safeguard New Mexico citizens.

The San Francisco News
March 4, 1942

Go to the Japanese Internment page.

Return to top of page