Lower prices for nuts, milk and grapes contributed to an 11 percent decline in the overall value of Madera County’s 2015 crop value, which was $2 billion.
Madera County Agricultural Commissioner Stevie McNeil presented the annual crop report to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
McNeil said that while the decline meant that some farmers struggled through a tough year, the diversity of the county’s agriculture helped it surpass the $2 billion mark for the second year in a row.
“It was a tough year for a lot of counties,” McNeil said.
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Several counties have released their crop reports, showing everything from no decline in values to a 25 percent decrease.
Despite the drop year over year, Madera County is ranked No. 9 in overall farming value among the state’s 58 counties.
Neighboring Fresno County had its overall values drop 6.5 percent to $6.6 billion. Tulare County, the reigning top agriculture county in the state, will release its report next Tuesday.
Among the Madera County commodities taking the biggest hits was milk. The county’s overall value for milk sunk 40 percent in 2015 to $254 million. The value of pistachios also plummeted 40 percent to $174 million. Grape values declined 6 percent to $298 million, as more raisin grape acreage continued to be removed in favor of other higher value crops.
Walnuts’ value tumbled 46 percent to $5.8 million.
McNeil said several factors contributed to the decline in prices, including poor growing weather, worldwide decline in demand and a strong U.S. dollar.
On the positive side, McNeil said processing tomatoes rose 14 percent to $29 million, and cherries rebounded from a poor year in 2014, when the fruit earned $1.4 million, to $14 million in 2015.
The value of almonds rose 2.5 percent as acreage also rose from 106,000 to 115,000. The overall value for almonds was $787.6 million, making it the top crop.
Olives for fresh consumption and for olive oil jumped from 590 acres to 740 acres, and the crop’s value rose a whopping 409 percent to $2.1 million.
McNeil is optimistic that 2016 will produce better numbers for the county. She expects almonds to continue to dominate.
She said she would not be surprised to see another 10,000 acres in production this year.
“There does not seem to be an end to the world demand for almonds,” McNeil said.