Last year's numbers are a drop in value
By Jason Massad, The Reporter, Vacaville
Vallejo Times Herald
Solano County's crop and agricultural commodities created roughly $206 million in gross value for area farmers and growers in 2004, a 4 percent drop from the year before.
It was the first time that local agricultural products have declined in value since 2000. Then, the gross value dropped about $10 million to $186 million, a roughly 5 percent decrease.
Susan Cohen, Solano County agricultural commissioner, said the sky is not falling for local farmers and growers.
'Four percent is not very much. That is a normal variation,'' Cohen said. 'On balance, we had a lot more sunflowers this year. And we saw values go up for field crops, nursery, seed crops and vegetable crops.''
Solano County had 21 crops and agricultural commodities that created more than $1 million in gross value. The top crop for Solano's 558 farms continues to be nursery stock, which raked in $43.6 million in 2004.
Nursery stock, both agricultural and the landscaping variety, has been on a march since 1995, when its value was less than $20 million of the county's ag output.
Tomatoes, traditionally the king of Solano County agriculture, fell to the fourth ranking in 2004 from the third most valuable crop the year before. Processing tomatoes created close to $19 million in gross revenues in 2004.
Wine grapes, a crop that some growers have flirted with, was static in its value in 2004, and remained the county's sixth most valuable crop.
Wine grapes created $10 million and were grown on a sizable amount of the county's 365,868 acres of ag land.
Some 4,300 acres were dedicated to the high-value crop. Other crops using much of the local agricultural land were almonds, walnuts and prunes.
Cattle and calves remained the county's second most valuable agricultural product in 2004, creating $26 million in gross revenues. Alfalfa followed closely at $22 million.
Increased prices were behind some significant gains in vegetable and seed crop values, Cohen said.
Bell peppers moved up in the rankings for "million-dollar crops'' from 20th to 14th. Sunflower seeds and beans also made gains. Overall, seed crops increased 34 percent in value in 2004.
Solano County's traditionally valuable ag products continued to lead the state.
The county ranks first in its production of sheep and lambs, with many coming from the Rio Vista area. Sheep and lambs were the county's 10th most valuable crop in 2004 at $4 million.
Solano's production of hay, safflower and corn also rank high among California counties.
But the county, relatively small in terms of available land, was only the 30th most agriculturally productive in California as compared to the other 57 counties.
Two of the county's significantly valuable ag products - feeder lambs and dairy cows - fell dramatically in the 2004 crop report.
Cohen explained that it was the way the value was calculated for the feeder lambs and dairy cows. The 2004 statistics did not include inventory of some livestock, which lowered their value in statistical terms.
- E-mail Jason Massad at email@example.com.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
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