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Supervisor’s column

Placer’s agriculture value shrinks

Livestock out-performs rice as top product
By: Placer County Supervisor Robert M. Weygandt
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Placer County has a long and proud history of agricultural activity, starting before the birth of the county in 1851 and continuing to this day. From the rice fields in south Placer, to the mandarin crops in the foothills, to timber in the mountains, our agricultural industry continues to thrive. In 2017, the total gross value of agricultural crops and products was $58 million.


For the first time in more than a decade, rice was bested as Placer County’s top grossing crop, according to the newly published 2017 Placer County Agricultural Crop Report. It’s just one of several interesting developments in this evolving industry from this year’s annual report and I’d like to highlight some rather encouraging news about our agricultural industry, despite an overall dip in last year’s numbers.

On Aug. 14, Placer County Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights and Measures Josh Huntsinger presented the 2017 Crop Report as an informational item at our Board of Supervisors meeting in Auburn. The report pegs the total gross value of last year’s agricultural crops and products at $58 million, down $7.1 million or 11 percent from the 2016 total of $65.2 million.

The annual totals reflect the gross value of agricultural crops and products, not the net incomes producers receive.

Remember the record-setting rain delivered by Mother Nature last winter and spring? Unfortunately, that rain was too much of a good thing and prevented many rice fields from being planted. Many acres of rice land in the county were also converted to almond and walnut orchards, which will take five years to bear. Those two factors led to a significant loss in total crop value for now.
 

However, the large-scale conversion of rice lands to nut orchards is expected to yield about $28 million in annual revenue, in roughly five years’ time.

While it was a down year in those respects, there is good news to share as many farmers and ranchers posted big gains in 2017.

Placer County’s top five crops for 2017 were:

 

  • Cattle and calves: $9,912,000, up 15 percent from 2016
  • Nursery stock: $8,442,000, up 3 percent
  • Rice: $8,315,000, down 34 percent
  • Timber, $5,883,000, up 30 percent; and
  • Walnuts: $4,847,000, down 14 percent.

 

Commodities from our foothills performed well, too. Total values were up for high-profile crops like mandarin oranges and vegetables that often are sold at local farmers’ markets and other direct-marketing outlets. Mandarins were up 23 percent at $2 million, vegetables were up 5 percent to $1.8 million and pears jumped 85 percent to $105,000.

These are promising signs for our growing farm-to-fork culture. Placer County is home to 70-plus farm stands and 13 farmers’ markets.

Your patronage of PlacerGROWN farmers’ markets and our local producers helps support our farming community and helps preserve our agricultural heritage and unique landscape.

 

Robert Weygandt is the Placer County supervisor for District 2, which covers Lincoln, Sheridan and the western portions of Rocklin and Roseville. To contact Weygandt, call (530) 889-4010 or email bweygandt@placer.ca.gov.