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California Farm Sales: $49 billion in 2020

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June 10, 2022

California had farm sales of $49 billion in 2020, down from $51 billion in 2019. The most valuable commodity was milk worth $7.5 billion in 2020, followed by almonds worth $5.6 billion, nursery and greenhouse crops worth $5.1 billion, and grapes worth $4.9 billion.

CA had 9 commodities worth more than $1 billion in 2020

Top 20 Commodities for 2018-2020
  Value and Ranks 1
Commodity 2018 2019 2020
  $1,000 Rank $1,000 Rank $1,000 Rank
Milk and Cream 6,371,017 1 7,382,830 1 7,466,612 1
Almonds (shelled) 5,602,500 3 6,169,100 2 5,619,930 2
Miscellaneous crops 2 4,653,717 4 5,054,471 4 5,053,942 3
Grapes 6,260,348 2 5,398,164 3 4,481,297 4
Pistachios 2,615,550 6 2,082,210 7 2,873,750 5
Cattle and calves 3,189,177 5 3,064,300 5 2,737,342 6
Lettuce, All 1,786,564 8 1,841,423 8 2,275,284 7
Berries, All Strawberries 2,086,077 7 2,286,330 6 1,989,170 8
Tomatoes, All 1,197,642 10 1,174,395 10 1,197,026 9
Floriculture 1,215,997 9 1,015,012 11 967,206 10
Walnuts 916,650 13 1,237,950 9 957,700 11
Rice 780,221 14 913,602 12 920,917 12
Oranges, All 1,093,052 11 699,458 17 831,071 13
Tangerines 556,024 19 679,638 19 786,870 14
Broccoli 679,405 17 746,918 15 782,122 15
Broilers 965,340 12 843,036 13 703,526 16
Hay, All 765,878 15 786,891 14 680,310 17
Carrots, All 655,479 18 708,872 16 657,417 18
Lemons 681,564 16 688,163 18 621,927 19
Other animals/products 552,965 20 521,182 20 521,182 20
1 Total value is based on USDA Economic Research Service cash receipts, September 2021 release.
2 Includes nursery/greenhouse crops (excluding Floriculture), Christmas trees, seed crops, and miscellaneous field, vegetable, berry, tree fruit, and nut crops.

California exported commodities worth $21 billion in 2020, led by $4.7 billion worth of almonds. Tree nut exports were $7.7 billion or more than a third of the state’s farm exports.

Tree nuts were over 1/3 of CA farm exports

California Agricultural Products Export Values and Rankings, 2018 2020
2020 Rank Product 2018 2019
($1 Million)
2020
1 Almonds 4,531 4,901 4,659
2 Dairy and Products 1,618 1,805 2,037
3 Pistachios 1,737 2,009 1,668
4 Walnuts 1,280 1,250 1,246
5 Wine 1,298 1,228 1,143
6 Rice 629 765 832
7 Table Grapes 803 743 731
8 Oranges and Products 654 549 597
9 Tomatoes, Processed 599 623 618
10 Beef and Products 414 404 413
11 Strawberries 439 402 407
12 Hay 334 338 346
13 Lettuce 297 292 285
14 Cotton 449 437 269
15 Raisins 283 257 226
16 Lemons 299 203 185
17 Raspberries and Blackberries 135 142 141
18 Dried Plums 142 126 122
19 Peaches and Nectarines 124 119 120
20 Flowers and Nursery 112 117 118

FVH. California has led the nation in farm sales since 1950 because of its specialization in high-value fruits, vegetables and horticultural specialties (FVH). California’s $49 billion in farm sales in 2020 were 14 percent of US farm sales of $357 billion.

CA farm sales were 14% of US farm sales in 2020

Top 5 Agricultural States in Cash Receipts, 2020
Rank State Crop Cash Receipts 1
($1,000)
  United States 357,160,627
1 California 49,081,688
2 Iowa 25,695,928
3 Nebraska 20,565,182
4 Texas 20,047,872
5 Kansas 16,836,388
1 Based on USDA Economic Research Service cash receipts, September 2021 release.

Fruits and nuts worth $20.6 billion in 2020, vegetables and melons worth $7.9 billion, and nursery and floriculture products worth $6.3 billion made FVH commodities $35 billion or 71 percent of the state’s farm sales.

FVH commodities were 71% of CA’s farm sales in 2020

Cash Income by Commodity Groups, 2018 2020
Source of Income 2018 2019 2020 Source of Income 2018 2019 2020
  ---- $1,000 ----   ---- $1,000 ----
FIELD CROPS VEGETABLES AND MELONS
Corn for Grain 55,445 47,628 47,730 TOTAL 7,816,047 8,130,456 7,916,620
Cotton Lint 477,510 367,315 400,867 % of Gross Cash Income 15.0 15.2 14.4
Oil Crops 37,969 46,918 36,675  
Rice 780,221 913,602 920,917 LIVESTOCK, POULTRY AND PRODUCTS
Wheat 71,135 40,008 44,548 Cattle and Calves 3,189,177 3,064,300 2,737,342
Other Field Crops 853,864 889,181 781,186 Hogs 27,453 26,458 18,051
TOTAL 2,276,144 2,304,652 2,231,923 Milk and Cream 6,371,017 7,382,830 7,466,612
% of Gross Cash Income 4.4 4.3 4.1 Poultry and Eggs 1,624,000 1,308,566 1,293,041
  Other Livestock/Poultry 600,069 565,973 562,788
FRUIT AND NUT CROPS TOTAL 11,811,716 12,348,128 12,077,833
TOTAL 21,923,678 21,626,501 20,558,826 % of Gross Cash Income 22.7 23.1 22.0
% of Gross Cash Income 42.1 40.4 37.5  
  TOTAL CASH INCOME FROM MARKETINGS
ALL OTHER CROPS TOTAL 49,969,028 50,756,072 49,081,688
TOTAL 4,925,447 5,331,322 5,329,281
% of Gross Cash Income 9.5 10.0 9.7 FARM RELATED INCOME 1
  TOTAL 2,051,930 2,771,034 5,724,552
FLORICULTURE % of Gross Cash Income 3.9 5.2 10.4
TOTAL 1,215,997 1,015,012 967,206  
% of Gross Cash Income 2.3 1.9 1.8 GROSS CASH INCOME FROM FARMING
  TOTAL 52,020,958 53,527,105 54,806,241
1 Includes forest products sold, machine hire and custom work, total direct government payments, and other miscellaneous farm income.
Source: USDA Economic Research Service, September 2021 release

Within each FVH commodity group, a few crops dominate. The three tree nuts, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, accounted for $9.5 billion or almost half of fruit and nut sales.

The leading labor-intensive crops by value included strawberries worth $2 billion, oranges worth $830 million, tangerines and mandarins worth $785 million, and lemons worth $620 million. Raspberries worth $400 million were as valuable as blueberries and cherries, which were worth about $200 million each. Peaches were worth $470 million, while the value of the raisin grapes from 140,000 acres was about $300 million and the value of table grapes from 120,000 acres was about $1.4 billion.

The value of labor-intensive fruits was $7 billion or a third of the total value of fruits and nuts in 2020. The acreage of labor-intensive fruits such as blueberries has been increasing, while the acreage of raspberries and strawberries is decreasing. The acreage of oranges has been declining, the acreage of lemons is increasing, and the acreage of mandarins and tangelos rose to 66,000.

Blueberry acreage is rising; strawberry acreage is declining

Blueberry Acreage, Production and Value, 2011—2020
Year Harvested Acres Yield Per Acre (Cwt.) Production (Cwt.) Utilized Production (Cwt.) Value Per Unit ($/Cwt.) Total Value ($1,000)
2011 4,200 100.0 421,000 421,000 241.00 101,461
2012 4,200 97.4 409,000 409,000 327.00 133,743
2013 4,800 107.0 514,000 514,000 248.00 127,520
2014 4,800 115.0 571,000 552,000 216.00 119,093
2015 6,200 103.0 641,000 639,000 188.00 120,303
2016 6,400 93.3 605,000 597,000 182.00 108,765
2017 6,600 94.8 630,300 626,000 220.00 137,596
2018 6,600 98.4 649,000 634,700 220.00 139,755
2019 7,300 101.0 737,000 717,800 285.00 204,460
2020 6,400 123.9 793,000 789,000 273.00 215,698
Strawberry Acreage, Production and Value, 2011—2020
Year Harvested Acres Yield Per Acre (Cwt.) Production (Cwt.) Utilized Production (Cwt.) Value Per Unit ($/Cwt.) Total Value ($1,000)
2011 38,000 680.0 25,846,000 NA 75.20 1,943,757
2012 39,000 710.0 27,646,000 NA 77.10 2,130,637
2013 41,500 665.0 27,573,000 NA 79.80 2,200,729
2014 41,500 665.0 27,592,000 NA 88.40 2,437,918
2015 40,500 685.0 27,697,000 27,697,000 67.70 1,875,483
2016 38,200 710.0 27,122,000 28,973,900 105.00 2,849,626
2017 38,100 645.0 24,574,500 24,549,900 103.00 2,530,903
2018 35,300 660.0 23,298,000 23,298,000 89.50 2,086,077
2019 34,100 610.0 20,800,000 20,770,000 110.00 2,286,330
2020 33,100 650.0 21,500,000 21,460,000 92.70 1,989,170

The acreage of apples and apricots is declining, the acreage of avocados (47,000 acres) and sweet cherries (33,000 acres) is stable, while the acreage of table grapes is rising. The acreage of peaches, pears and raisin grapes is falling.

Raisin grape acreage is declining; table grape acreage is increasing

Raisin Grape Acreage, Production and Value, 2011—2020
Year Bearing Acres Non-Bearing Acres Yield Per Acre (Tons) Production (Tons) Utilized Production (Tons) Value Per Unit ($/Ton) Total Value
2011 205,000 4,000 11.00 2,263,000 2,263,000 382.00 863,716
2012 200,000 3,000 9.05 1,810,000 1,810,000 457.00 826,326
2013 200,000 3,000 11.40 2,270,000 2,270,000 364.00 826,921
2014 190,000 2,000 9.86 1,874,000 1,874,000 381.00 713,432
2015 184,000 2,000 10.60 1,952,000 1,952,000 349.00 681,963
2016 170,000 2,000 9.24 1,570,000 1,570,000 277.00 435,009
2017 158,000 2,000 8.23 1,301,000 1,301,000 414.00 538,092
2018 152,000 4,000 10.16 1,545,000 1,545,000 428.00 661,063
2019 149,000 4,000 9.26 1,380,000 1,380,000 266.00 366,609
2020 142,000 3,000 7.68 1,090,000 1,090,000 276.00 300,532
Table Grape Acreage, Production and Value, 2011—2020
Year Bearing Acres Non-Bearing Acres Yield Per Acre (Tons) Production (Tons) Utilized Production (Tons) Value Per Unit ($/Ton) Total Value
2011 100,000 11,000 10.30 1,032,000 1,032,000 809.00 834,967
2012 105,000 13,000 9.75 1,024,000 1,024,000 1,220.00 1,250,728
2013 110,000 10,000 11.20 1,227,000 1,227,000 1,260.00 1,542,328
2014 110,000 11,000 10.60 1,165,000 1,165,000 1,350.00 1,569,956
2015 112,000 12,000 10.10 1,135,000 1,135,000 1,530.00 1,734,735
2016 111,000 12,000 10.40 1,150,000 1,150,000 1,340.00 1,536,873
2017 111,000 10,000 10.70 1,190,000 1,190,000 1,330.00 1,587,042
2018 121,000 11,000 10.74 1,300,000 1,300,000 978.00 1,271,435
2019 121,000 9,000 9.83 1,190,000 1,190,000 1,030.00 1,221,315
2020 122,000 8,000 9.10 1,110,000 1,110,000 1,320.00 1,465,840

Within the $8 billion vegetable and melon sector, hand-harvested lettuce worth $2.3 billion was almost 30 percent of the total, followed by $800 million worth of celery, $700 million worth of broccoli, and $400 million worth of cauliflower. The $300 million worth of melons included almost two-thirds cantaloupes, while most of the $260 million worth of fresh tomatoes were mature-greens, that is, tomatoes that are picked green and ripened with ethylene gas to turn them red.

Declining acreage of head lettuce is offset by rising leaf and Romaine acreage

Lettuce Acreage, Production and Value, 2011—2020
Year Planted Acres Harvested Acres Yield Per Acre (Cwt.) Production (Cwt.) Utilized Production (Cwt.) Value Per Unit ($/Cwt.) Total Value ($1,000)
2011 94,000 93,000 405 37,665,000 NA 20.10 757,067
2012 106,000 105,000 360 37,800,000 NA 18.30 691,740
2013 97,000 96,000 350 33,600,000 NA 24.90 836,640
2014 92,000 91,000 370 33,670,000 NA 28.60 962,962
2015 87,000 86,500 380 32,870,000 NA 30.40 999,248
2016 85,000 84,500 390 32,955,000 32,955,000 23.00 757,965
2017 102,000 101,500 365 37,047,500 37,047,500 32.60 1,207,749
2018 82,000 81,700 350 28,595,000 28,595,000 26.80 766,346
2019 79,000 78,700 375 29,512,500 29,512,500 30.20 891,278
2020 80,000 79,400 380 30,172,000 30,111,700 30.90 930,452
2011 40,600 40,000 255 10,200,000 NA 29.20 297,840
2012 46,000 45,000 245 11,025,000 NA 34.30 378,158
2013 48,000 47,500 230 10,925,000 NA 35.70 390,023
2014 46,000 46,000 240 11,040,000 NA 39.00 430,560
2015 47,000 45,800 260 11,908,000 NA 59.10 703,763
2016 59,800 59,700 220 13,134,000 13,134,000 42.80 714,780
2017 58,000 57,800 200 11,560,000 11,560,000 60.10 694,756
2018 57,000 56,000 150 8,400,000 8,400,000 53.80 451,920
2019 48,000 47,500 215 10,212,500 10,212,500 41.00 418,713
2020 53,000 51,900 255 13,234,500 13,234,500 49.10 649,814
2011 62,500 62,200 340 21,148,000 NA 26.50 560,422
2012 71,000 69,000 310 21,390,000 NA 23.10 494,109
2013 72,000 71,000 290 20,590,000 NA 28.70 590,933
2014 64,000 63,500 280 17,780,000 NA 34.00 604,520
2015 64,000 63,500 300 19,050,000 NA 37.50 714,375
2016 79,800 78,900 320 25,248,000 25,248,000 29.80 752,390
2017 90,500 90,200 300 27,060,000 27,060,000 41.20 1,114,872
2018 74,500 72,700 280 20,356,000 20,152,400 28.20 568,298
2019 65,800 64,000 305 19,520,000 19,324,800 27.50 531,432
2020 69,300 67,800 335 22,713,000 22,713,000 30.60 695,018

Acreage of fresh tomatoes and melons is declining

Fresh Tomatoes Acreage, Production and Value, 2011—2020
Year Planted Acres Harvested Acres Yield Per Acre (Cwt.) Production (Cwt.) Utilized Production (Cwt.) Value Per Unit ($/Cwt.) Total Value ($1,000)
2011 37,500 37,000 355 13,135,000 NA 22.80 299,478
2012 36,000 36,000 315 11,340,000 NA 22.70 257,418
2013 34,600 34,000 300 10,200,000 NA 36.20 369,240
2014 32,900 32,300 315 10,175,000 NA 34.80 354,090
2015 28,600 28,300 310 8,773,000 NA 35.00 307,055
2016 NA NA NA NA 7,822,900 28.00 219,041
2017 NA NA NA NA 7,315,800 31.20 228,253
2018 NA NA NA NA 8,172,400 27.80 227,193
2019 NA NA NA NA 6,484,800 43.10 279,495
2020 NA NA NA NA 6,551,000 39.40 258,109
Melons (Cantaloupe) Acreage, Production and Value, 2011—2020
Year Planed Acres Harvest Acres Yield Per Acre (Cwt.) Production (Cwt.) Utilized Production (Cwt.) Value Per Unit ($/Cwt.) Total Value ($1,000)
2011 37,000 37,000 300 11,100,000 NA 16.10 178,710
2012 36,700 36,000 300 10,800,000 NA 17.20 185,760
2013 43,000 42,500 300 12,750,000 NA 16.00 204,000
2014 31,500 31,000 260 8,060,000 NA 21.00 169,260
2015 28,500 28,000 300 8,400,000 NA 17.40 146,160
2016 30,000 29,500 300 8,850,000 8,850,000 16.10 142,485
2017 35,000 34,300 275 9,432,500 9,432,000 16.50 155,636
2018 32,000 31,500 265 8,347,500 8,347,500 22.50 187,819
2019 28,000 27,800 245 6,811,000 6,811,000 19.50 132,815
2020 22,000 21,900 330 7,227,000 7,227,000 25.50 184,289

Counties. California’s three leading farm counties were Fresno with farm sales of $8 billion in 2020, Kern with $7.6 billion, and Tulare with $7.3 billion, a total of $23 billion or almost half of the state’s farm sales.

Fresno, Kern, and Tulare counties led in farm sales

Top 10 Agricultural Counties
  Total Value and Rank  
County $1,000 Leading Commodities
  2019 2020  
Fresno 7,774,113 2 7,963,487 1 Almonds, Pistachios, Poultry (Unspecified), Grapes (Table)
Kern 8,399,646 1 7,579,424 2 Grapes (Table), Almonds, Pistachios, Tangerines & Mandarins
Tulare 7,508,852 3 7,252,374 3 Milk, Oranges (Navel), Cattle & Calves, Grapes (Table)
Monterey 4,426,625 4 4,016,904 4 Strawberries, Lettuce (Romaine), Lettuce (Head), Broccoli
Merced 3,379,276 6 3,568,105 5 Milk, Almonds, Chickens (Broilers), Sweet Potatoes
Stanislaus 3,530,953 5 3,503,166 6 Almonds, Milk, Chickens (Unspecified), Cattle & Calves
San Joaquin 2,626,034 7 3,054,828 7 Almonds, Milk, Grapes (Wine), Walnuts
Kings 2,187,693 8 2,242,497 8 Milk, Pistachios, Cattle & Calves, Cotton (Pima)
Imperial 2,015,843 10 2,196,334 9 Cattle (Heifers & Steers), Vegetables, Alfalfa Hay, Lettuce (Leaf)
Ventura 1,998,387 11 2,015,744 10 Strawberries, Lemons, Avocados, Raspberries

One table lists leading commodities by value and the five leading counties producing that commodity. For example, Tulare county produced a quarter of the state’s milk in 2020, followed by 15 percent of the state’s milk in Merced and 10 percent each in Stanislaus, Kings, and Kern counties. Monterey accounted for a third of the state’s $2.7 billion in strawberries, followed by a quarter in Santa Barbara, a fifth in Ventura, and 10 percent in San Luis Obispo.

Monterey county accounts for 1/3 of CA strawberry sales and 2/3 of CA lettuce sales

Commodity Rank and Leading Counties by Gross Value of Agricultural Production, 2020
State Five Leading Counties by Rank and Percentage of State Total
Commodity Rank Value
($1,000)
1 Percent of Value 2 Percent of Value 3 Percent of Value 4 Percent of Value 5 Percent of Value
Milk and Cream 1 6,862,444 Tulare 27.2 Merced 15.3 Stanislaus 10.7 Kings 10.1 Kern 9.6
Almonds 2 6,604,533 Fresno 18.1 Kern 16.7 Stanislaus 16.3 San Joaquin 10.5 Madera 10.0
Grapes (All) 3 5,723,851 Kern 25.4 Fresno 18.0 Tulare 11.5 Napa 8.1 Sonoma 6.1
Cattle & Calves (All) 4 3,302,139 Tulare 18.2 Imperial 12.9 Fresno 12.6 Merced 7.9 Kern 7.5
Nursery Products 5 3,151,364 San Diego 28.8 Riverside 7.9 Stanislaus 6.7 Ventura 6.1 Siskiyou 5.0
Berries, Strawberries 6 2,725,070 Monterey 33.9 Santa Barbara 26.7 Ventura 21.1 San Luis Obispo 10.6 Santa Cruz 7.1
Pistachios 7 2,646,517 Kern 35.7 Fresno 26.8 Tulare 16.8 Madera 10.8 Kings 8.1
Oranges 8 1,967,933 Tulare 54.0 Kern 25.5 Fresno 15.5 San Diego 1.8 Ventura 1.1
Lettuce 9 1,819,799 Monterey 62.5 Imperial 13.8 Santa Barbara 8.4 Fresno 6.9 San Luis Obispo 1.9
Tangerines 10 1,396,507 Kern 48.0 Tulare 28.8 Fresno 18.8 Ventura 1.6 Riverside 1.5
Walnuts (English) 11 1,112,457 San Joaquin 19.9 Butte 11.5 Tulare 10.1 Glenn 9.3 Stanislaus 9.3
Rice (Excl. Seed) 12 979,533 Colusa 29.2 Sutter D Butte 18.3 Glenn 13.8 Yuba 7.7  
Alfalfa Hay 13 934,296 Imperial 21.5 Riverside 10.5 Kern 9.7 Merced 7.0 Tulare 6.5
Lemons 14 917,650 Tulare 29.3 Ventura 23.6 Kern 10.5 Fresno 8.7 San Diego 8.6
Silage, All 15 913,536 Tulare 35.8 Merced 15.0 San Joaquin 13.5 Kings 13.0 Stanislaus 10.9
Tomatoes (Processing) 16 882,319 Fresno 32.3 Yolo 14.4 Kings 14.3 Merced 10.2 San Joaquin 6.2
Chickens 17 669,327 Stanislaus 51.1 Merced 47.6 San Diego 0.6 San Joaquin 0.4 San Bernardino 0.3
Peaches (All) 18 614,199 Fresno 41.5 Tulare 28.0 Sutter 8.4 Kings 5.9 Stanislaus 5.2
Broccoli 19 611,929 Monterey 55.8 Santa Barbara 17.1 Imperial 10.2 Riverside 6.8 San Luis Obispo 5.1
Avocados 20 553,754 Ventura 32.5 San Diego 27.6 Riverside 16.0 Santa Barbara 14.5 San Luis Obispo 8.5
Garlic 21 521,289 Fresno 76.0 Kern 18.8 Monterey 2.6 San Joaquin 1.7 Santa Clara 0.6
Flowers and Foliage 22 510,760 San Diego 72.1 Santa Barbara 6.6 Ventura 6.6 San Luis Obispo 4.2 San Bernardino 3.5
Eggs (Chicken) 23 501,164 San Joaquin 36.2 Kern 19.5 Merced 14.1 Riverside 12.4 San Bernardino D  
Cauliflower 24 400,662 Monterey 48.1 Santa Barbara 27.3 Imperial 12.6 San Luis Obispo 7.7 Riverside 4.2
Cherries 25 378,701 San Joaquin 49.3 Fresno 10.8 Kern 9.1 Stanislaus 8.6 Kings 8.4
Cotton Lint 26 373,452 Kings 43.2 Fresno 29.5 Merced 15.0 Kern 4.9 Tulare 3.3
Berries, Raspberries 27 341,924 Ventura 41.4 Santa Cruz 40.9 Monterey 10.7 Santa Barbara 7.0  
Onions 28 338,114 Fresno 41.0 Imperial 17.6 Kern 14.7 Monterey 10.6 Riverside 6.2
Celery 29 331,614 Ventura 38.3 Monterey 34.7 Santa Barbara 18.6 San Luis Obispo 4.4 San Benito 2.2
Potatoes, Sweet 30 289,173 Merced 93.3 Stanislaus 6.7  
Spinach 31 273,842 Monterey 51.6 Imperial 17.0 San Benito 12.6 Ventura 5.8 Riverside 5.6
Berries, Blueberries 32 264,472 Kern 29.6 San Joaquin 22.4 Tulare 20.7 Ventura 14.7 Fresno 11.0
Nectarines 33 257,851 Fresno 61.2 Tulare 31.4 Kings 7.3 Contra Costa 0.1 Siskiyou <0.1
Plums 34 256,048 Fresno 61.8 Tulare 29.2 Kings 8.7 Contra Costa 0.3 El Dorado 0.1
Other Pasture and Range 35 248,977 Tulare 9.3 Monterey 8.1 Merced 6.8 San Benito 6.1 Stanislaus 5.8
Potatoes (Incl. Seed) 36 226,570 Kern 49.9 San Joaquin 35.4 Siskiyou 6.5 Modoc 6.3 Riverside 1.8
Bell Peppers 37 216,545 Riverside 32.6 Kern 27.5 Ventura 19.0 Fresno 8.7 Santa Clara 8.2
Corn (Sweet) 38 180,238 Imperial 53.2 Fresno 22.9 Contra Costa 11.1 Riverside 5.5 Santa Clara 3.4
Tomatoes (Fresh Market) 39 172,531 Fresno 48.1 Merced 32.1 San Benito 8.9 Santa Clara 4.3 San Joaquin 3.8
Berries, Blackberries 40 159,935 Santa Cruz 39.6 Santa Barbara 29.1 Ventura 21.5 Monterey 9.8 San Bernardino <0.1
Mushrooms 41 151,685 Santa Clara 50.0 Monterey 50.0  
Cantaloupes 42 148,830 Fresno 51.6 Imperial 38.7 Merced 6.1 Riverside 3.6  
Plums, Dried 43 143,641 Butte 20.0 Sutter 16.5 Yuba 15.7 Tehama 9.8 Tulare 9.5
Carrots 44 141,992 Imperial 52.1 Monterey 19.4 Riverside 18.2 San Joaquin 3.8 San Benito 2.5
Olives 45 131,389 Tulare 26.8 Glenn 26.3 San Joaquin 14.8 Tehama 13.6 Yolo 12.7
Cabbage 46 128,423 Monterey 40.4 Ventura 28.9 Santa Barbara D Imperial 11.0 Santa Clara 4.6
Honey 47 126,774 Tulare 49.2 Fresno 13.1 Stanislaus 12.0 San Joaquin 8.7 Kern 7.8

Perspective. Covid accelerated trends that were underway before the pandemic, including the shift from labor-intensive raisin grapes to tree nuts in the San Joaquin Valley, the shift from head to other lettuces in the Salinas Valley, and declining acreages of cantaloupes and mature-green tomatoes.

The top 20 commodities accounted for $42 billion or over 85 percent of the state’s farm sales in 2020. Farm labor is a significant expense for half of these top-20 commodities, including milk, table and raisin grapes, lettuce, strawberries, flowers and nursery commodities, oranges, tangerines, broccoli, and lemons.

Rising farm labor costs are encouraging producers of labor-intensive commodities to (1) invest in machines to replace workers and mechanical aids that make them more productive, (2) housing for H-2A guest workers, and (3) production outside CA to take advantage of lower labor and other costs. The mix of machines, H-2A workers, and imports varies by commodity.

For example, the production of milk may shift from California to midwestern states due to lower feed costs, lower wages, and fewer environmental restrictions on dairies. Americans are consuming more milk products as cheese rather than fluid milk, which makes it easier to separate milk production from the consumption of dairy products. Grape production, by contrast, is likely to remain centered in California, albeit with more mechanization in raisin grapes and mechanical aids that make table grape workers more productive.

Lettuce and strawberries are also likely to remain in California, with mechanical aids making field workers more productive. Technology that increases efficiency in packing sheds may increase efficiency in the field, as with workers who can cut lettuce that is put into bins rather than bagged for sale to consumers because the lettuce will be washed and bagged in salad plants. Similarly, workers can pick strawberries faster into bins if the bins can be taken to packing houses and packed into clamshells there.

Mature-green tomatoes, cantaloupes, asparagus are among the commodities likely to continue to shrink in the face of rising imports from lower wage countries.

References

California Agricultural Statistics Review 2020-21.


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