Last year proved to be a down year for Kern County farmers with crop sales dropping seven percent from the year before.
The annual Kern County Crop Report shows what could turn into a rough situation for local farmers if last year’s trend does not change course.
The big picture: Kern County’s seven percent drop in 2022 came after a nine percent increase in 2021. Such a drop is reflective of the extremely dry year that California had last year, impacting what farmers were able to produce.
- The top five crops last year were grapes, citrus, milk almonds and pistachios, totalling over $5 billion in value.
- While grapes held the top spot at nearly $1.4 billion in value, last year’s grapes number was over $1.87 billion.
- Citrus, Almonds and pistachios all saw major drops as well.
- Milk was the outlier among the top five products, pulling in $927,000 last year compared to $688,000 in 2021.
Why it matters: The crop report details the county’s farm revenue every year, but does not provide data for expenses such as production, marketing, transportation, labor and water, for example.
- Farm expenses, like most other aspects of the economy, have risen over the past year, making the 2022 downturn in revenue an even greater overall loss.
- The last time Kern County experienced a decrease in crop value came in 2015, when the value dropped nine percent from the previous year.
What they’re saying: Local observers fear that last year’s decrease is a sign of things to come, leading to farms going out of business in the near future.
- “This might be the first canary in the coal mine,” Western Ag Crop Insurance Services owner Todd Snider told the Bakersfield Californian. “People need to start paying attention to the severity of what we’re going to see if the trajectory continues and these farmers go out of business.”