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January 2018, Volume 24, Number 1
County agricultural commissioners release their annual reports on farm sales each fall for the year before, and Kern country topped the list with farm scales of $7.2 billion in 2016, followed by Tulare county with $6.3 billion and Fresno county with $6.1 billion. Kern's leading crops are grapes, almonds and citrus, while milk is a quarter of Tulare's farm sales. Tulare is the leading US dairy county; the number of Tulare dairies fell from 285 in 2015 to 269 in 2016.
Raisin growers received $1,800 a ton for their 2017 crop, the second-highest price ever negotiated with handlers. However, the 2017 crop is likely to be less than the projected 235,000 tons.
Cannabis. Proposition 64 legalized recreational marijuana January 1, 2018, with three state agencies issuing 19 different permits to growers, retailers, manufacturers and distributors. Counties and cities will issue their own permits, promising confusion as each agency enforces its regulations. State laws require that marijuana shops ensure that buyers are at least 21 and that they close by 10 pm.
CDFA issued regulations in November 2017 allowing growers with one acre to get a five-year license, but allow an unlimited number of licenses for quarter-acre farms. Some 3,500 cannabis-growing permits are expected to be issued in the first half of 2018. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control is allowing marijuana shops to sell cannabis grown without proper licenses between January and June 2018.
The wholesale price of cannabis has dropped, with medium- to low-grade marijuana selling for $600 a pound in January 2018, down from $2,000 a pound a year earlier and a steep drop from the high of $4,000 a pound in 2008. As with other agricultural commodities, farmers receive a relatively small share of the retail price of cannabis, whose retail price has been stable or increasing: MarijuanaRates.com
Publicly traded Canada-based Lifestyle Delivery Systems has an $8 million warehouse factory to grow and process cannabis in Adelanto, 90 miles east of Los Angeles. Lifestyle and other vertically integrated producers may come to dominate the market.