Monterey County agriculture took a notable hit in 2020, largely due to the impacts of wildfire and COVID-19. The 2020 Crop & Livestock Report reflects a significant decline in production value, which totaled a little more than $3.9 billion. The theme of the report was ‘Resilience in Adversity,’ highlighting the challenges that farmers and ranchers endured in 2020.
“2020 was quite the year I think we all would agree. The impact on agriculture in Monterey County was significant,” said Henry Gonzales, Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner. “As a matter of fact, it was an 11.3 percent drop over 2019 and the most significant drop we have ever experienced both in percentage and dollar value. It was just slightly below a $500 million drop in total gross value.”
Some of the most lucrative crops for the area experienced substantial declines in value. Leaf lettuce fell by 15.2 percent and head lettuce saw a decline of 16.6 percent. Overall, vegetable crops decreased by nearly $575 million to a total of more than $2.5 billion. “Winegrapes was another commodity that took a pretty big hit losing a gross value of 43 percent. It was a really bad year…it was the wildfires that created a loss of over $74.5 million primarily impacting winegrapes and strawberries but mostly it was winegrapes that suffered,” Gonzales noted.
REPORT ALSO HIGHLIGHTS SEVERAL VICTORIES
Despite the overall drop in value, some commodities made modest gains in 2020. Field crops, livestock and poultry, seed crops, and apiary all experienced some increases in value. The most notable increase in value was seen in strawberry production, which took the number-one spot in the report. “It increased more than it ever has to the highest value ever. It’s $922 million-plus, so pushing that $1 billion mark just for strawberries,” said Gonzales.
While COVID-19 is still impacting production, Gonzales is optimistic about overall production moving forward. The diversity among crops in Monterey County is one of the strengths of the region. Gonzales said that while he doubts production will get over the $4.5 billion level for 2021, he remains confident about getting back above $4 billion. “We have so many different commodities, that if one isn’t doing well for whatever reason, well we have 20, 25, 30 more that can step up and help keep the overall value of Monterey County Agriculture high,” Gonzales explained.