Stanislaus County reported gross farm income of $3.26 billion in 2016, a second straight drop thanks mainly to lower nut and beef prices.
Farmers got 16 percent less than 2015, county Agricultural Commissioner Milton O'Haire told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The income declined 12 percent in 2015 from the record $4.4 billion the year before.
“That's agriculture,” said Supervisor Jim DeMartini, who grows various crops west of Ceres. “It’s up and down a lot.”
O'Haire noted that the state-mandated report shows only gross income, not production costs or profit. It also does not account for the ripple effect on the economy: Tens of thousands of people work at food and beverage processors and in businesses that supply farmers with tractors, pesticides and other needs.
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O'Haire said the latest total is down also because of the five-year drought that ended in 2016.
Almond and walnut prices ran high in 2013 and 2014 but then settled to more accustomed levels. Prices also were down in 2016 for milk from dairy farms and for beef cattle.
Almonds remained the county's top-grossing product at $931 million in 2016. Milk was second at $612 million and chickens third at $295 million.
Income was down for dairy feed crops but up for turkeys and peaches. Nurseries had a large gain, mainly for trees and vines sold to farmers in Stanislaus and beyond.
“That shows that farmers continue to plant crops for agriculture's future,” said Richard Homer, an inspector for the ag commissioner.
The 2016 crop report, along with others dating to 1940, can be viewed at www.stanag.org.