Agriculture · Merced

Report: Milk is the cream of the crop for Merced Co. in 2020

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic presenting various supply chain issues, Merced County saw a large year-over-year increase in its agriculture production. 

Merced County released the 2020 Report on Agriculture, which revealed that the county experienced a seven percent increase in value from 2019, coming in at $3.4 billion. 

That seven percent increase totaled $240 million in total value from 2019 to 2020. 

Milk took the top spot as Merced County’s most valuable crop in 2020 with an overall value of $1.05 billion, an increase of 15 percent from the year before. 

As milk production increased in 2020, the price increased $2.30 CWT from 2019 to total $18.70 CWT. 

Milk was also more than twice as valuable than any other single crop in Merced County last year. 

Merced County’s next-valuable crop was almonds at $470 million in total value, a 12 percent increase from 2019. 

Although almond orchard acreage increased to 103,277 acres, value prices dropped 26 percent from 2019. 

Chickens came in as the county’s No. 3 crop with a total value of $318 million and one spot higher than 2019. The number of head saw an increase of 10.4 million from the year before, increasing by $0.03 per value unit. 

Sweet potatoes also rose one spot, coming in fourth with $269 million in valuation as 2020 production increased by 107 cartons per acre. 

Cattle previously held the No. 3 spot but fell to fifth in 2020 with $262 million in total value. Cattle experienced a decrease of 13 percent from 2019. While herd size increased by more than 62,000, CWT value decreased by 23 percent. 

The other crops in Merced County to post a value over $100 million were tomatoes ($145 million) and corn silage ($104 million). 

Merced County also saw its crops exported across the world, with the top five recipient countries being India, Spain, Italy, Japan and Mexico.

Photo: Mizzou CAFNR

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.