California agriculture revenues showed little change as the sales value of its products for 2008 were down fractionally from the 2007 income level of $36.4 billion, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and Economic Research Service. The state’s 81,500 farms and ranches received $36.3 billion for their output last year. The state’s agricultural sales exceeded $35 billion for the second year in a row.

California was once again led in sales by a strong dairy sector in 2008.

California’s largest-in-the-nation dairy industry led the way as the top commodity in sales value. Dairy producers received $6.92 billion for their milk production in 2008, down 6 percent from the record high of $7.34 billion in 2007. The state’s dairy farms increased milk output 1.3 percent. The price producers received fell from $18.05 to $16.82 per hundred pounds of milk sold. The Golden State produced 22 percent of the milk in the U.S. last year. However, the volatile beginning in 2009 dairy pricing is likely to have a negative impact on both dairy figures and total farm revenues for 2009.

A total of 10 California products exceeded $1 billion in receipts for 2008. Five of the 10 commodities registered an increase in value or held steady when compared to the previous year. The commodity with the greatest increase in value was hay, which saw a rise in value of 26 percent from 2007. It marked the first time the value of hay has risen past the $1 billion mark. The sales value of hay has risen 70 percent since 2006.

Five of the 10 commodities experienced a decrease in their value from 2007. The commodity with the largest decrease in value was nursery products. The value of nursery products decreased by 23 percent compared to 2007. The downturn in the economy is the most likely cause for this decline. Final grower returns could change the sales value for the commodities, resulting in an updated dollar amount in next year’s report.