As is always the case Tulare County maintained its place as one of the top agricultural producing counties in the country. And as always is the case, milk remained the top product.
That information will be presented to the Tulare County Board of Supervisors at their 9 a.m. meeting on Tuesday when the 2020 Tulare County Crop and Livestock Report is presented. All things considered when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic the county again had a solid year when it came to agricultural production.
Total gross production was $7.1 billion in 2020, which was down five percent from 2019's value of more than $7.5 billion. But again much of that drop can be attributed to the pandemic. Gross production also doesn't reflect net profit.
And the Tulare County Economic Development Office still sees a bright future for agriculture in the county, projecting 30.4 percent job growth in the industry in the county over the next 10 years.
And there were products that saw an increase, including milk. The gross value of milk mainly due to market conditions as a result of the pandemic increased by 15.8 percent.
The gross value of milk production in Tulare County was nearly $1.9 billion, a $255 million increase over 2019. That increase happened even though there was a just a slight increase in production.
But there was an increase of milk production by 1.5 percent. Milk represented 26.1 percent of the county's agricultural value in 2020.
There was also an increase in orange production as for the first time ever the gross production of oranges in the county exceeded $1 billion. Oranges was the county's No. 2 product.
Livestock and poultry also saw a gain of 1 percent at $672 million. Cattle was the county's No. 3 agricultural product. The 1 percent increase was due to higher prices for cattle and poultry.
The total value of all field crops increased by 1.8 percent at $505 million. But the overall decrease was due to a significant decrease in fruit and nut production, down 16 percent to more than $3.8 billion.
Tulare County Ag Commissioner stated that decrease could be attributed to a decline in almond, grape, peach and tangerine values.
There was a huge increase for nursery products, not surprising as people went to gardening during the pandemic. Nursery products increased by nearly 50 percent over 2019 with an overall value of nearly $109 million. There was also a huge increase in vegetable crops of 32 percent to more than $26 million.
“Tulare County's agricultural strength is based on the diversity of crops produced,” Tucker said. In 2020 there were 120 different commodities grown in the county with 43 having a gross value of more than $1 million.
“Tulare County continues to produce high-quality crops,” Tucker said. The county provides agricultural products to more than 96 countries across the world.
As far as exports, Korea is the No.1 importer of citrus and also the No. 1 overall importer of Tulare County ag products. China is the No. 1 importer of pistachios and the No. 2 importer overall.
Mexico is the No. 1 importer of grapes and the No. 4 importer overall. But grapes also took a hard hit in the county in 2020 as there was a 29 percent decline in that product.
Japan is the No. 3 importer of county ag products while Taiwan is No. 5.
There were 99 organic growers in Tulare County in 2020 with a total of 12,164 acres. In total there were 451,443 acres dedicated to agriculture in 2020, actually an increase of 1,532 acres over 2019.
But with the drought and much farmland having to be shut down due to a lack of water that figure is likely to go down in 2021.
The top 10 ag producing products in the county in 2020 were:
1. Milk $1,866,696,000; 2. Oranges — Navels and Valencias $1,062,257,000. 3 — Cattle and Calves $602,035,000. 4. Grapes $569,813,000. 5. Pistachio Nuts $444,235,000. 6. Tangerines $402,116,000. 7. Almonds $352,338,000. 8. Lemons $268,650,000. 9. Corn $185,758,000 10. Peaches $171,961,000.