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County reaches record high ag income in 2011
crop report pic
Heifers on Ray Souzas dairy farm munch on some hay. Based on the Stanislaus County Agricultural Report, in 2011, the total milk product value increased to $766 million, up from a 2010 value of $599 million. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

Top 10 commodities in 2011


#1 Milk

#2 Almonds

#3 Chickens

#4 Cattle & Calves

#5 Walnuts

#6 Silage

#7 Tomatoes

#8 Deciduous Fruit & Nut Nursery

#9 Hay, Alfalfa

#10 Turkeys

Local farmers enjoyed yet another bounce-back year with a gross agricultural farm gate increase of nearly $497 million for an all-time record of total income of nearly $3.6 billion in 2011, over 18 percent increase from 2010 gross production, according to the Stanislaus County Agricultural Report.

Activities suggest that an increase in the fruit and nut crops, most notably almonds along with walnuts and grapes, attributed to the increase, while hay and silage products also continue to go up in numbers.

 "The numbers are encouraging," said Director of Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Tom Orvis.  "Certain segments made a profit, thus setting a record for the county, but we have to keep in mind that the numbers pertain to gross revenues rather than net revenues."

Numerous factors led to an all-time record income in 2011.  Milk products, the county's top commodity, rebounded as prices increased and the damage to dairies in the last few years stabilized, although feed prices remained high.

California's Farm Production Expenditures totaled $31.2 billion in 2011, up 3.2 percent from the 2010 estimate of $30.2 billion.  Currently, California has the largest percentage of the U.S. total at 9.8 percent. 

In 2011, the total milk product value increased to $766 million, up from a 2010 value of $599 million.

"The numbers are deceiving," said local dairy farmer Ray Souza.  “Although milk continues to be ranked as the top commodity, our cost of production is over the roof.”

Expenditures per California farm averaged $382,699 in 2011, compared with $369,767 in 2010.  On average, California producers spent the most per farm on labor at $93,620; farm services at $66,871; and feed at $62,209.

“We had a horrible year in 2009.  As a result, many farmers used their equity to survive,” said Souza.  “2011 comes around, and farmers no longer have any equity to fall back on during tough times.  To make matters worse, farmers have stringent environmental pressures and regulations to meet demand.  It is impossible to keep farms functioning.”

Almonds were the second most valued commodity in the county with a total value of $628.3 million, substantially increasing from $237.8 million in 2010.

Since 2010, milk and almonds exports increased largely because Asian and Indian markets continued to value high protein diets, increasing demand from local dairies and almond farmers.  In 2009, 100 different Stanislaus County agricultural products were exported to 85 countries.