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$1 billion grossed in ag production

May 22, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

The county agricultural commissioner reported over $1 billion in gross agricultural production for 2001, an almost 10 percent increase over 2000.

County Agricultural Commissioner Stephen Birdsall said the numbers represent a gross value, not the profit farmers made. Birdsall presented the 2001 agricultural crop report to the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Most crops in all categories increased in value. The highest increase was in vegetables, he said.

The only decrease, 22 percent, was in seed and nursery crops, the result of a reduction in seed acreage and yields, Birdsall said.

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Every $1,000 spent for agricultural production resulted in almost $400 in personal income. Vegetable and melon crops produced the most jobs and income, he said.

"Overall, I think we did very well but I want to emphasize we have to keep in mind that even though this is a gross figure, it may take $900 million to reach that," he said.

Imperial County Farm Bureau Executive Director Steve Pastor said cauliflower was the only crop that made any money for Valley farmers in 2001.

"I want to make the point quite clear … the rest of the farmers suffered from low or no income," Pastor said.

Even though lettuce prices went up, a lot of local farmers were locked into contracts so they did not benefit from the higher prices, he said.

Birdsall said it was too soon to tell where Imperial County ranked with other counties in the state.

The county has always been around ninth or 10 in the state. Last year it was 11th because it was a bad year for agriculture in California and a worse year for Imperial County, he said.

According to the report:

· Vegetable and melon crops increased 11.1 percent;

· Field crops increased 12.0 percent;

· Livestock increased 12.6 percent;

· Fruit and nut crops increased 8.1 percent;

· Apiary products increased 16.2 percent.

Increases were due to improved yields and prices.

>> For a copy of the report, contact the Agricultural Commissioner's Office at 482-4314.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or lauramitchell9@yahoo.com.

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