Top World Region – San Joaquin Valley Agriculture
Fresno County is home to over 1.4 million acres of productive pasture and farmland. It remained the top ag county in the state and nation. Ag commissioner Melissa Cregan delivered the crop report to county supervisors. Cregan told the board, “The 2019 gross production value for agriculture in Fresno County was $7.718 billion.”
That figure was down 2% from a year ago but the battle to be the number-one ag producer was extremely tight among valley counties. Fresno County topped the list at $7.71 billion. Kern County was right behind at $7.62 billion, while Tulare County was at $7.50 billion.
Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen explained, “In a year like this year, you really appreciate that the value that every single farmer contributes really makes that difference.” The pandemic decreased demand for some crops during the spring. In April, we watched some lettuce get disced back into the ground because orders for restaurants and schools were canceled due to a sudden drop in demand in the foodservice industry. Cregan said, “Fresno County’s agricultural strength is based on the diversity of the crops we produce.”
Over 300 crops were grown in Fresno County. Seventy-eight of them topped $1 million in annual ag production. Jacobsen said, “The shining star once again was almonds, saw a dramatic increase there. A lot of that was acreage based.” Almonds were worth over $1.5 billion in 2019.
The number-two crop, grapes, dipped under the billion-dollar mark though. Jacobsen said, “Table grapes, wine grapes as well as raisins. It’s been tough for the local grape industry.” Pistachios, poultry and milk rounded out the county’s top five crops. Cregan thanked local growers and ranchers for their resiliency during a tough year. She said, “All the glory goes to the farmers because they’re the ones producing these crops and placed us where we are.” International trade was down. Ag officials believe continued challenges posed by the pandemic may lead to lower production numbers next year.