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County crop revenue down in '09
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Commissioner Gary Caseri made a prediction after the release of the 2008 crop report. He predicted that 2009 would be a bad year for local farmers.

He was right.

The value of the agriculture commodity dropped - as predicted - in 2009, following a revenue spike of over $2 billion in 2008, according to the 2009 Stanislaus County Agricultural Crop Report recently released.

"With these economic times, agriculture is doing okay with the exception of the dairy industry," said Caseri.

Even with increases in the tomato category by 104 percent and the chicken category by 23 percent, milk, being the number one ranked commodity for 2009, took a hit with a drastic drop in price for fluid milk and milk manufactured products. Milk took a $227 million hit in 2009.

The suffering dairy industry with low milk prices gave the 2009 agricultural farm gate income the biggest decline for 2009 which contributed to the drop in crop revenue by a total of seven percent or $163 million.

The low revenue numbers for 2009 were predicted by Caseri after the 2008 crop report was released as dairy barely scrapped by in 2008 with the help of increased revenues for silage and alfalfa hay.

"I must caution the board this upward trend is not continuing," Caseri said last year. "...We will probably not experience the same (growth) for our 2009 crop year."

Some were expecting a decline in local egg production after Proposition 2 was passed in 2008 requiring larger cages for chickens. The decline materialized in 2009 with a decrease of $17.9 million in county egg production. However, the chicken population grew in 2009 bringing in $52.5 million more than in 2008.

No one predicted the jump tomatoes made in the 2009 ranking of commodities. Tomatoes were ranked number 10 in 2008 and jumped to the number five ranking spot in 2009.

The harvested acres of tomatoes rose from 16,479 in 2008 to 28,671 in 2009, increasing the total revenue by $62.1 million in 2009.

The top four ranked commodities stayed the same from 2008 to 2009, making milk the number one commodity with almonds following in second then chickens and cattle and calves in fourth. Walnuts remained in the number six ranking from 2008 with silage dropping from the fifth ranking to seventh and deciduous fruit and nut nurseries dropping from seventh to the ninth ranking.