It’s quite interesting to study statistics. They reveal a lot about what is going on in an industry or population, and in agriculture, this is especially true.

Most Americans have no idea about the world of agriculture or what farmers face in terms of challenges or obstacles. Nor does the average American understand or appreciate the contribution agriculture makes to balanced trade (one of the few industries to post a POSITIVE net affect on trade in the U.S.). Yet many agriculturalists make hardly a minimum wage, while working as independents and trying to combat the rising costs of everything — including the cost of increased regulations and fees, taxes and prices for all supplies, etc.
In addition, farmers and ranchers have little control over their income as their products have only a narrow window during which they can be sold. Their livelihood is entirely dependent on the market and fluctuates dramatically.
Here are some statistics that come from two separate reports on agriculture in California:
California has been the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States for more than 50 consecutive years. More than half the nation’s fruit, nuts, and vegetables come from California.
California is the nation’s number one dairy state. California’s leading commodity is milk and cream. California produced 22 percent of the milk in the U.S., with most of it used to make cheese and butter.
Grapes are California’s second leading agricultural commodity. There are more than 300,000 tons of grapes grown in California annually which in turn produces 17 million gallons of wine each year.
California’s leading export crop is almonds. The world’s largest almond processing plant, doing twelve million pounds per day in high season, is the Blue Diamond in Sacramento.
Nationally, products grown EXCLUSIVELY or up to 99% or more in California include: almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts.
From 70 to 80% of all ripe olives are grown in California.
California is the nation’s leading producer of strawberries, averaging 1.4 billion pounds of strawberries or 83% of the country’s total fresh and frozen strawberry production. Approximately 12% of the crop is exported to Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Japan primarily. In 1997 enough strawberries were grown in California to circle the earth 15 times. The value of the California strawberry crop is approximately $700 million with related employment of more than 48,000 people.
California produces 25% of the nation’s onions and 43% of the nation’s green onions.
Gilroy, California, “Garlic Capitol of the World,” has hosted 2 million at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival.
More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in America.Here are some other intriguing statistics about California’s agriculture:

  • The Central Valley, a flat plain 75 miles (120 km) wide and 430 miles (688 km) long has become the richest farming region in the history of the world.
  • California is the largest producer of goods of all the states and the largest agricultural state in America.
  • In 2002 cattle and calves ranked as the state’s No. 4 crop or commodity in terms of value, behind only milk, grapes and nursery products.
  • California ‘s 22,000 beef producers care for more than 5 million head of cattle and about 37 million acres of rangeland. Many California cattle ranches have been owned by the same family for four or five generations and most ranches are family-owned and operated.
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