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October 2021, Volume 27, Number 4

California Agriculture

California produces a third of the world’s processing tomatoes. After being processed, tomato products can be stored, and there was an ample supply of processing tomato products in storage in 2019. Covid increased home cooking and the demand for processing tomato products, encouraging processors to request more tomatoes from growers.

In 2020, processing tomatoes were planted on 235,000 acres that yielded an average of almost 50 tons an acre for total production of 11 million tons. Growers received $78.50 a ton for tomatoes.

The acreage of navel and Valencia oranges is falling, while the acreage of seedless mandarins is increasing. Mandarin acreage rose 11 percent a year since 1980, compared with 7.4 percent average annual grown in pistachio acreage and 4.5 percent a year for almond acreage. California’s cotton, wheat and corn acreage declined.

The EPA in August 2021 banned the spraying of insect-killing chlorpyrifos on fruits and vegetables, citing potential neurological damage in children and reversing a 2017 EPA decision to allow the continued use of chlorpyrifos. The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in April 2021 that EPA must ban the spraying of chlorpyrifos on food crops unless if deems the pesticide safe. Corteva Agriscience says that chlorpyrifos is safe, and farmers say that they have no viable alternative.

Legal marijuana has not been a boon for California taxpayers, largely because illegal marijuana sales that do not pay taxes far exceed legal sales. The state in 2021 considered a $100 million subsidy for the legal marijuana industry.

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