Written by The Business Journal Staff
Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita presented the county’s annual crop report to the board of supervisors on Tuesday.
“I think the supervisors were a little surprised by the drop but it’s kind of a trend in counties up and down the Valley,” Kinoshita said, referring to the fact that crop values in neighboring Fresno, Kings and Madera counties also showed steep declines in 2015.
“Anybody with dairy in their county, the milk price was low pretty much the entire year,” Kinoshita said. “We, in particular, had a decrease in market milk to the tune of 319 million pounds. That’s equivalent to almost 6,400 tanker trucks.”
Even with the lower milk prices, the commodity remained the county’s top product, accounting for $1.7 billion of total output.
That was followed by cattle and calves ($941 million), oranges ($819 million), grapes ($643 million) and almonds ($322 million).
“The top ten [commodities] stayed pretty consistent from 2014 to last year,” Kinoshita said.
Tangerines, corn silage and grain, small grain silage, pistachios and walnuts rounded out Tulare County’s top ten most valuable agricultural commodities.
“In 2014, we had probably our lowest field crop acreage in a long time,” Kinoshita said. “We assume it was drought-related because of the lack of water deliveries.”
Last year, Tulare County field crop production was up 62 percent from 2014, Kinoshita added.
“There was a spattering of water deliveries last year so we had a bump up of 342,000 additional acres of row crops, which made it somewhat of a normal year for us.”
But with the county’s overall milk production down 32 percent in 2015, Kinoshita said the drop off will have a ripple effect throughout the entire county.
“Especially because of how many dairies we have,” she said. “Lower yield and lower prices mean our overall value couldn’t come anywhere near the $8 billion mark it was last year.”
“If you think about all of the businesses, from veterinarians to cheese makers, that rely on dairies, this is going to impact a lot of folks around the county.”