What is in this article?:
- Second consecutive year of falling Ag values in Fresno County
- Total organic acreage almost triples
Cotton production falls significantly
Almonds beat out grapes for the top-spot among commodities produced in Fresno County, Calif.
The latest victim of California’s multi-year drought is Fresno County’s long-standing run as America’s leading Ag-producing county. For the moment, Tulare County, Calif. now has those bragging rights.
Fresno County agricultural values continued their two-year slide in 2013 but remained above $6 billion for the third consecutive year according to the annual crop report just released by County Ag Commissioner Les Wright.
At $6,436,625,500 it is still the third-largest valuation of agriculture ever in the county which is traditionally number one in the United States. The continued slide in total value points to what some in agriculture circles are calling “failed policies” and “a broken system” when it comes to irrigation water deliveries in California.
Drought and reduced surface irrigation water deliveries, which this year reached zero for the first time ever all across California, pushed Fresno County’s agricultural value down 2.22 percent from the previous year’s figure and more than 6.5 percent down from the record high of $6.81 billion in 2011.
“Our decline actually started showing up in our 2012 crop report; it’s because we have no water,” Wright said.
Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen said this is evidence of how water policy at the state and national level “are costing us real dollars.”
“It boils down to the fact that our crop report could have been 25-40 percent larger if we’d have had the water supply available for our crops,” Jacobsen said.
Wright and Jacobson say the crop report dollar figures can sometimes be misleading if people look only at dollar figures and do not factor in lost acreage and total production. In many instances, a small drop in yield in a particular commodity can be overshadowed by a per-unit price increase that actually boosts the gross dollars paid for a particular commodity.