Tulare County Projected to Stay Number One in Agriculture

Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County Agriculture Commissioner, gave the annual Tulare County Crop Report for 2015. Although Kinoshita stated that she was disappointed in the decrease in permanent plantings, she projected that Tulare County will be the number one agriculture producer in the nation for the third year in a row.

Tulare County’s total gross production value for 2015 is $6,980,977,800, a decrease of 13.7% over last year. Last year’s agriculture production peaked just over eight billion dollars making it the most productive in the nation’s history. This year’s production was down by $1.1 billion.

The Fresno County Department of Agriculture’s 2015 Crop and Livestock Report was presented to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors on August 30. Overall, agricultural production in Fresno County totaled $6.61 billion, showing a 6.55% decrease from 2014’s $7.04 billion.

That is $820,000 less in production from Tulare County.

Because of its sheer land mass, Fresno County has always been number one in agriculture production in the nation. The county lost its number one ranking because of the drought. Fresno County is relies more heavily on the Friant-Kern Canal and the California Aqueduct than Tulare County. Water allocations from the two canals were severely cut over the last three years affecting Fresno County’s productivity.

“The lack of a reliable water supply continues to fallow productive land,” said Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights and Measures Les Wright.

Tulare County, along with all other Central Valley counties, experienced a decline in production. Kings County experienced an 18% decrease in agriculture production, and Madera County experienced an 11 % decrease. Kinoshita predicts that Kern will have experienced similar percentage losses in their agriculture production.

Kern County still has not released their final numbers.

Milk continues to be the Tulare County’s number one producer, with a total value of $1,718,001,000. That represents a 32.4% decrease from 2014. Milk production was stable but the price per unit was lower. Milk products used to represent 30% of agriculture production but this year has gone down to representing 24 % of entire production. The reduction in Tulare County milk production represents 6400 truckloads of milk.

Milk is also Kings County’s number one agriculture product and also saw a decrease of 32%.

The bright spot in the report was the increase in field crops. Field crops increased 62.6% over the previous year. In 2014 farmers took 250,000 acres of field crops out of production primarily because of the drought. With a little increase in water this year, farmers were planting more temporary crops. The gain in 2015 was mostly attributed to the increase in acreage of barely, wheat, corn and small grain silage. Vegetable crops also increased by 11% due to an increase in acreage harvested.

The top ten crops in Tulare County are milk, cattle and calves, grapes, almond, tangerines, corn, silage, pistachio and walnuts. Silage took over peaches for a top ten spot for 2015. Tulare County’s top five commodities were unchanged though all of their values went down.

Kinoshita pointed out during her presentation that Tulare County has 45 products that gross over a million dollars. Fresno County had 62 commodities which breached one million in value.

Tulare County’s top importers of our products are: South Korea, Japan, Mexico, China, Taiwan, Australia, Netherlands, Philippines, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

The top exports are oranges, grapes, pistachios, almonds and tangerines. Kinoshita explained that one third of the commissioners office’s time is spent inspecting products ready for export.

Supervisor Phil Cox asked Kinoshita if all of the trees he sees throughout the county being pulled out are eventually replanted. She said that because of impending water regulations and water uncertainty, some growers were holding off. She said that some growers cannot delay plantings, though, because they waited two years for the stock and just have to hope for rain.

This year’s total gross production is less than in 2013 where Tulare County produced $7,346,922 in agriculture products.

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