Fresno County farmers and ranchers shattered the yearly record for the value of what they produced by nearly a billion dollars in 2018.
Despite below-average surface water supplies, their crops and livestock totaled $7.888 billion last year, according to the Fresno County Department of Agriculture’s annual report released Tuesday.
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That marked a 12.23% increase from 2017 and was substantially higher than the previous record year of 2014 when total production hit $7.069 billion.
“Fresno County’s 2018 Crop and Livestock Report once again showcased why we are the food capital of the world.” — Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen
“Fresno County’s 2018 Crop and Livestock Report once again showcased why we are the food capital of the world,” said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen. “Our local farmers and ranchers displayed their resolve and resiliency in the tough economic and regulatory environment of California.”
Almonds and Grapes Lead the Way
In 2018, the county’s Top 10 crops accounted for three-fourths of the total value. Almonds remained the leading ag commodity in Fresno County and accounted for nearly 15% of the total gross value of all crops. Grapes joined almonds as Fresno County’s only billion-dollar crops.
But the report also illuminates ag’s diversity, according to Melissa Cregan, who is Fresno County’s ag commissioner.
“Fresno County’s agricultural strength is based on the diversity of crops produced,” Cregan said. “Included in the 2018 report are over 300 different commodities, 76 of which have a gross value in excess of $1,000,000. Although individual commodities may experience difficulties from year-to-year, Fresno County continues to supply the highest quality of food and fiber nation-wide and abroad to more than 95 countries around the world.
Despite the good news provided by the report, Jacobsen farmers must continue to keep a close watch on legislation impacting water deliveries.
“Food Grows Where Water Flows — this year’s Crop and Livestock Report reflects what having a sufficient water supply can mean economically for this region,” said Jacobsen. “However, it also shows what we stand to lose in this Valley if we don’t find adequate and reliable solutions for our water infrastructure, conveyance, and, most importantly, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.”
That act became California law in 2014. It requires local agencies to manage and use groundwater by 2040 without causing significant groundwater-level declines, groundwater-storage reductions, seawater intrusion, water-quality degradation, land subsidence, and surface-water depletions.
How Is the Crop Report Put Together?
The report, which is mandated by the state, reflects the county’s gross value of agricultural production, separating the information by each commodity. Information is gathered by surveying a random sample of growers, ranchers, processors, packers, and other sources.
California is the only state that produces annual county crop reports, which are more precise and unique than other government and industry reports. In addition, the report is the only source of specialty crop and general county data.