From the Merced Sun-Star:

Farmers are holding their ground -- ground that keeps rising in value as other players in the economy stumble.

A report from Rabobank said California cropland values rose 20 percent from 2005 to last year.

Stanislaus, Merced and other neighboring counties have shared in the gains, with continued health in the almond and walnut industries and improved fortunes for peaches and wine grapes.

"Agriculture is really a bright spot in the economy," said Tom Orvis, governmental affairs director for the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau. "Land and water are the two major resources."

As farmland values rose, the housing market imploded. Stanislaus County's median home price was at a third of its 2005 peak as of June, according to DataQuick.

Tens of thousands of people in the Northern San Joaquin Valley are without work because of the lingering effects in construction, retail, government and other sectors.

For more, see: Valley farmland is pocket of sunshine as agriculture gains ground in economy