Fresno County farms set $7.9 billion record for crop value. Here’s what topped the list

Farmers and ranchers in Fresno County produced a record value of almost $7.9 billion in agricultural crops and commodities in 2018.

The figure represents the total gross production value of everything from alfalfa and almonds to wine and wood, and works out to an increase of more than 12.2 percent over 2017, according to county Agricultural Commissioner Melissa Cregan.

Cregan presented the 2018 annual Crop and Livestock Report to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Almonds were the top crop in the county at almost $1.2 billion in value, while grapes – wine and table grapes as well as raisins – were second at just over $1.1 billion. Pistachios were the third-ranked crop with a total gross value of more than $862 million.

Rounding out the top 10 were poultry and related products including eggs, garlic, milk, cattle and calves, onions, tomatoes and mandarins. The ascension of garlic and onions into the rankings knocked peaches and oranges out of the rankings.

“Fresno County’s agricultural strength is based on the diversity of crops produced. Included in the 2018 report are over 300 different commodities, 76 of which have a gross value in excess of $1,000,000,” Cregan wrote in her letter to the board. “Although individual commodities may experience difficulties from year-to-year, Fresno County continues to supply the highest quality of food and fiber nationwide and abroad to more than 95 countries around the world.”

Cregan added that the figures in the report are gross values and don’t reflect production, marketing or transportation costs, and “they do not represent net income or loss to the producers of these commodities.”

Among the top commodities, almonds, poultry, milk, cattle and mandarins all fell in gross value compared to 2017, but those losses were more than offset by gains in grapes, pistachios, garlic, onions and tomatoes.

Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen hailed the report as evidence of how “our local farmers and ranchers displayed their resolve and resiliency in the tough economic and regulatory environment of California.”

Among those challenges, Jacobsen said, were below-average supplies of surface water for farmers last year. “This year’s Crop and Livestock Report reflects what having a sufficient water supply can mean economically for this region,” he said. “However, it also shows what we stand to lose in this Valley if we don’t find adequate and reliable solutions” for water supplies, canal systems and regulations.

Farmers in Fresno County harvested more than 1.9 million acres of farmland and orchards in 2018 — a total that includes field crops such as cotton, hay and grains; tree fruit and nuts; vegetable crops; seed crops like alfalfa, and nursery products.

Lifelong Valley resident Tim Sheehan has worked in the Valley as a reporter and editor since 1986, and has been at The Fresno Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and covers California’s high-speed rail project and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, has a journalism degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University.