The state’s 81,500 farms and ranches received a record high $43.5 billion for their output last year. California agriculture revenues increased 15 percent for 2011 from the revised 2010 income level of $38 billion, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and Economic Research Service. California’s cash receipts represented 11.9 percent of the U.S. total for 2011.

California’s increase in revenue was led by the dairy sector. Dairy producers received $7.68 billion for their milk production in 2011, up 30 percent from 2010. Herd size change from 2010 was a negligible 0.9 percent. Milk production from the state’s dairy farmers increased 3 percent. Milk prices received by producers rose from $14.69 per hundred pounds of milk sold in 2010 to $18.54 in 2011. California produced 21.1 percent of the nation’s milk supply last year. The beginning of 2011 saw a recovery in milk prices until April when prices stalled. In June, prices increased to above $20 per hundred pounds. Fall prices dropped off to end the year below April’s price.

2011 milk prices, excluding January’s, were higher than in the previous two years, and the cost of production was up 17.8 percent based on the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Cost of Production Survey. The high production costs, primarily feed, kept California dairies struggling financially in 2011. Last year, the state lost 48 dairy farms, and the prior year saw a decline of 37 dairies.

Eleven California products exceeded $1 billion in receipts for 2011, the same as in 2010. Ten of the 11 commodities registered an increase in value. The commodity with the largest percentage increase was hay, at a 68 percent increase in value, with a return to the $1 billion plus mark last held in 2008. The value of almonds edged higher than that of grapes in 2011, ranking second in the top 10 commodities by cash receipts. Final grower returns could change the sales values for the commodities, resulting in an updated dollar amount in next year’s report.