For Immediate ReleaseJuly 14, 2015
Agricultural Commissioner’s report: Crops and livestock worth more than $100 million
San Rafael, CA – Honey bees are making a comeback in Marin, leading the Marin County Agricultural Commissioner to highlight the annual Livestock and Crop Report with news of a 15 percent rise in honey production countywide.
On July 14, Commissioner Stacy Carlsen presented the Marin County Board of Supervisors with a 2014 report that showed a 19 percent rise in the gross value of agricultural products. The Board voted to approve a report that said the homegrown products were worth a record $100,953,000 in 2014, up from the previous record of $85,053,000 from 2013. Marin experienced a downward trend in total gross value of agricultural production from 2007 to 2009, but has been on the rise ever since.
Bees have been hit hard by a spate of pests in recent years, but local beekeepers –most of them amateur hobbyists – have rallied since 2009 to saturate areas of the county with stock that helped fend off parasitic mites tied to the most common diseases. For that reason, bees received top billing in the 2014 report. “Our beekeepers have been very innovative, and we have outstanding leadership in disease prevention efforts,” Carlsen said.
The report showed a 92 percent increase in aquaculture production (oysters, mussels, clams and other shellfish), going from $5.5 million to $10.6 million, according to a report from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Cattle products increased in value from $15.4 million to $20.4, a 32 percent upswing. Organic milk production was up 61 percent (from $20.8 million to $33.6 million), although conventional milk production was down 57 percent (from $13.4 million to $5.7 million).
Also at the July 14 Board meeting, the Supervisors adopted a resolution recognizing and proclaiming the continued existence of emergency conditions for farmers and ranchers because of the drought conditions. Livestock producers have experienced continued loss of rangeland and pastures with the lack of consistent rainfall.
“If we were not in a drought, we believe the value of the organic industry would be much higher,” Carlsen said. “We have seen around a 50 percent reduction in pasture this year, but it was 85 percent last year. The drought is definitely still with us and we’re hoping for the best.”
Organic producers have seen record high prices for milk, beef (mainly conventional), and other dairy products, even though Marin is in its fourth year of drought. The drought has forced many producers to reduce herd size and limit the production of organic products, but the demand continues to outpace the supply. Carlsen said the public’s interest in locally grown and raised food products and local land stewardship go hand-in-hand.
The report highlighted the county’s sustainability practices, pest prevention and detection, integrated pest management, invasive weed management, protection of the environment, product quality and the livestock protection program.
Stacy CarlsenCommissionerDepartment of Agriculture, Weights and Measures
1682 Novato Blvd.Suite 150-ANovato, CA 94947(415) 473-6700Email: Stacy CarlsenAWM website