The value of Marin agricultural products slips by 5%

Courtesy of Marin County

Agricultural production in Marin County is down 5% in 2021 from the previous year, primarily due to persistent drought and farmers choosing to fallow more of their land.

Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Scott Wise and Inspector Allison Klein presented the 2021 Marin County Crop and Livestock Report to the Marin County Board of Supervisors on June 14. 4% gain in value between 2019 and 2020. Only three times in history has Marin eclipsed the $100 million mark in annual gross value of agricultural products. The record is $111,061,000 in 2015.

As in past drought years, the resilience of local farmers, herders and their workforce was noted in the annual report. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced agricultural producers to find new markets to sell their products in order to stay viable and manage complex issues with human resources around their facilities.

“We are now seeing the data that shows the long-term impacts of this drought on our agriculture industry, such as significant reductions in livestock, exorbitant feed costs and land set-aside,” Wise told members. from the administration board. “In 2021, Marin’s share of this mega-drought has reached critical levels. Due to the lack of rainfall, ponds and wells dried up and many farmers and herders resorted to hauling water to their farms. Yet there is not enough water a farm can afford to carry, so many producers have had to lay fields fallow and many ranchers have been forced to sell animals.

Marin experienced record rainfall and a second consecutive dry winter, affecting everything from livestock to field crops to fruits and vegetables. It takes years to rebuild a herd of livestock for specific traits and genetics, and crop and livestock producers work hard to build drought resilience into their operations.

The brightest news in the report came from the area of ​​aquaculture, an important part of West Marin’s economy. The total gross value of oysters, mussels and clams increased from $3.75 million to $8.2 million, an increase of 119%. The increase was attributed to revitalized consumer demand after a year of coronavirus shutdowns and restaurant closures in 2020.

Field crops, on the other hand, continued to lose value due to the drought. The value of hay fell by 49%, silage by 43% and harvested pasture by 33% (much of the hay and silage is not sold but remains on local farms as fodder). The total value of field crops fell from $14 million to just over $9 million. Additionally, fruits and vegetables were down 34% and nursery products were down 25%.

Livestock products led the way accounting for 41% of the overall gross value of Marin’s agricultural products. However, the value of cattle fell 13%, from just over $16 million to just under $14 million. The value of conventional milk production is up 7%, but the organic milk sector, traditionally a strong point for breeders in Marin, is down 8%.

Over the past year, 21 Marin ranchers have participated in a livestock protection cost-sharing program to help build and repair fences, purchase and support animal protection, and use protective devices. scaring to protect animals from predators. Protected animals include sheep, poultry, goats, cattle, water buffalo and alpacas.

The annual report includes updates on pest prevention programs, sudden oak death, invasive weed management and the organic certification program. All Marin County livestock and crop reports are online, including the new one. Reports are sent to the California Department of Food and Agriculture for inclusion in statewide reports.

Amalia H. Mercado