published on August 9, 2016 - 8:24 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
Drought, lower commodity prices and production issues all played a part in driving down Fresno County’s agricultural value in 2015.

 

According to the Fresno County Department of Agriculture’s 2015 Crop and Livestock Report, which was presented to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning, overall agricultural production in Fresno County totaled $6.61 billion last year, a 6.55 percent decrease from 2014’s $7.04 billion.

“The strength of Fresno County’s agricultural industry is based upon the diversity of crops produced,” said Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures Les Wright. “This year’s report covers nearly 400 commodities, of which, 62 exceed $1 million in value.”
 
“[But] the lack of a reliable water supply continues to fallow productive land,” Wright added.

The annual crop report includes gross income values only and does not reflect net return to producers.

According to the county’s latest report, in 2015, an increase was seen in vegetable crops of 4.95 percent to $59.02 million. Decreases occurred in field crops (41.99 percent to $134.9 million), seed crops (30.80 percent to $10.4 million), fruit and nut crops (6.6 percent to $229.5 million), nursery products (25.65 percent to $16.08 million), livestock and poultry (9.44 percent to $118.7 million), livestock and poultry products (31.38 percent to  $199.7 million), apiary (2.39 percent to $1.7 million) and industrial crops (54.38 percent to $3.9 million).

“We must not take what we have for granted,” said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen. “By not addressing our challenges head-on, whether it be water supply reductions, labor issues, governmental red-tape, etc., we are allowing our economy, our food and our people to wilt away. The direction of the Valley’s agricultural industry explicitly determines the direction of the Valley as a whole.”

Almonds were once again the county’s top crop in 2015, coming in at $1.2 billion, but down nearly $100 million in value from 2014.

After almonds, grapes, poultry, cattle and tomatoes were the top five most valuable county commodities.

In addition to milk, peaches and garlic, which were the county’s sixth, seventh and eighth most valuable commodities, mandarins and oranges rounded out the annual Top 10 list.

Wright said mandarin demand continues to “push acreage upwards.”

Pistachios and cotton dropped out of the Top 10.

Pistachio production was significantly reduced last year due to the “blanking” issue that left many shells without nuts, and cotton acreage continues to be depressed due to reduced water supplies and fallowed land.


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