Suffering from the effects of a multi-year drought, Fresno County’s 2016 overall agricultural value dropped for the second consecutive year.
Fresno County’s total value was $6.1 billion, a decline of 7.3 percent from the previous year.
Les Wright, Fresno County agricultural commissioner, delivered the 2016 crop report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. Wright said that despite the decline, Fresno County remains an agricultural powerhouse, exporting produce to 93 countries and growing nearly 400 crops.
Of those 400 crops, 68 of them have overall gross values of more than $1 million. The county’s annual crop report puts into perspective the size and scope of agriculture in the region. It also provides farmers and others a glimpse of what crops are on the rise and which ones are on the decline.
“Whether your job depends on ag or not, if you live in the San Joaquin Valley, the successes and challenges reflected in this report impact all residents directly,” said Ryan Jacobsen, chief executive officer of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. “The consequences of what happens in our local board and council chambers, as well as at our state and nation’s capitols, affects agricultural production, which in turn has consequences on the vitality of our region.”
One thing that’s noted in the 2016 report is the impact of the third year of a statewide drought and soft prices for some crops.
“Crop values vary year-to-year based on production, markets and weather conditions,” Wright said. “In 2016, markets were less than stellar for many of our commodities.”
Values dropped for several crops, including tomatoes, down 21.3 percent; spring lettuce dropped 18 percent; livestock and poultry fell 16 percent; and blueberries tumbled 64 percent, due largely to low yields.
“It was a tough year for some of our crops,” Wright said.
Making noticeable gains were table grapes, which rose 8 percent in value. Pistachios jumped 50 percent and oranges climbed 23 percent. Wright said favorable market conditions and an increase in production helped those crops do well.
Nearly unchanged from 2015 to 2016 were the crops with the highest overall values. Almonds remained in the top position with a crop valued at $1.2 billion, followed by grapes at $714 million and poultry at $495 million.
Wright predicted that the 2017 and 2018 crop reports will produce better numbers, partly because of an increase in the availability of water.
“We are hoping this was our low spot,” Wright said, “and we will get back to more of a normal crop report.”