County of Marin - News Releases - Crop & Livestock Report

For Immediate Release
July 13, 2021

Agricultural Community Proves its Resiliency

Commissioner reports total value of products up 4%, worth more than $100M

San Rafael, CA – It wasn’t just the COVID-19 pandemic that presented challenges to Marin County’s agricultural producers in 2020. It was also wildfire, smoke from distant wildfires, and a drought that grew more severe month after month. The resiliency of local farmers, ranchers, and their workforce is duly noted in the 2020 annual Marin County Crop & Livestock Report, released July 13.

Agricultural Commissioner Stefan Parnay presented the report to the Marin County Board of Supervisors and said the estimated gross total production value of local products to be $101,840,000, a 4% increase over the previous year and Marin’s second-high estimated value in its history. The boost was fueled by an overall increase in livestock and fruit and vegetable values and despite significant decreases in wine grape and aquaculture production.

Beef cattle are shown grazing on dry land with Tomales Bay in the background.The price of cattle, shown grazing on dry land near Tomales Bay, increased by 9% between 2019 and 2020 due to higher prices per head.

Parnay noted that the pandemic required our agricultural producers to find new niches and markets to sell their products to stay viable, including having to quickly put in place new procedures and practices during the height of the coronavirus’s spread.

“Our Ag producers are used to change and having to adapt and innovate on the go,” Parnay said. “Last year tested their resilience, resolve, and adaptability. Some had great success and others struggled to a degree, but in the end our producers are a resilient group of individuals who know how to face adversity and make the most out of an extremely difficult situation.”

Many ranchers have had to reduce their livestock herd sizes because of the drought, and that will decrease output in the coming years of other products such as milk, meat, and value-added good. Parnay said it takes years to rebuild a livestock herd for specific traits and genetics, and lots of crop producers were forced to fallow some or all of their land because of the sparse rainfall and access to water.

“A year from now, a lot more will be known and understood about the current drought’s impact on producers,” Parnay said. “I’m more concerned about the long-term impacts and viability of our livestock and crop industries. A lot of work will be done over the coming months and years to build drought resiliency into our local agricultural production systems.”

A year ago, the department reported a total gross value of all products as $97,929,000. The 2020 total is not the first time Marin eclipsed the $100 million mark; that first happened in 2014 with a total of $100,919,600. The record high is $111,061,000 in 2015. A decade ago, the 2010 report set the local value at $56,181,301.

Milk, poultry, and livestock accounted for 72% of the total gross value last year, or $73.8 million. It’s the third consecutive year that those three products led the way in earnings.

Cattle prices increased by 9% due to higher values per head while sheep values increased by 22% due to a greater number of animals being raised. Aquaculture saw a steep decline of 46% because restaurants closed during the pandemic, and no other markets were available to buy oysters, mussels, and clams. Organic milk saw a rebound due to higher prices, equating to a 11% increase. Wine grape value significantly dropped by 31% due to grapes left hanging in vineyards because of smoke damage from the Woodward fire that burned through parts of the Point Reyes Seashore in August 2020.

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 to be included in statewide reports.

Contact:

Stefan Parnay
Acting Commissioner/Director
Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures

1682 Novato Blvd.
Suite 150-A
Novato, CA 94947
(415) 473-6700
Email: Stefan Parnay
AWM website