Brussels sprouts, strawberries and wine grapes up in a down ag year

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels Sprouts, Wine Grapes Bright Spots for Local Farmers
San Mateo County Crop Report Presented to the Board of Supervisors

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Strawberries and wine grapes enjoyed a sharp increase in value in an otherwise down year for much of San Mateo County’s agricultural industry, according to the 2009 Crop Report.

The value of all San Mateo County crops in 2009 was $149,226,000, an 8.3 percent decrease from the $162,726,000 value posted on 2008. The decline reflects the overall economy as growers planted fewer indoor and outdoor flowers and nursery crops.

“While most people think of San Mateo County as fairly urban, the coast is mostly agriculture,” said Fred Crowder, the Agricultural Commissioner. “Much of that industry suffered in 2009 because of either falling crop prices or slack demand for nursery stock, cut flowers and even lumber.”

Crowder presented the report Tuesday to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

The report provides an insight into an industry that is often overshadowed by the biotech, software and financial services firms that are just minutes away from family farms and ranches. Crowder estimates the agricultural industry contributes more than a half-billion dollars, or $522 million, to the local economy each year through employment, purchasing and other factors.

Brussels sprouts accounted for $7.4 million of the $16.1 million in vegetable crops grown in 2009. Brussels sprouts were a bright spot for farmers, shooting up 27 percent in value from 2008 even with less acreage.

Strawberries rose in value by 155 percent to $1.3 million with 29 acres given over to planting compared with $543,000 and 24 acres in 2008. Wine grapes rose 29.9 percent in value to $625,000 with a modest 135 acres planted compared with $481,000 and 96 acres in 2008.

The crop categories showing the greatest losses were floral and nursery stock with an $8.86 million (6.6 percent) decline, vegetable crops with a $4.25 million (21 percent) decline and forest products with a $1 million (58 percent) decline.

Reduced sales are responsible for the declines in floral and nursery stock; the closure of the county’s largest mushroom operation is responsible for the decline in miscellaneous vegetables; while the decreased production of forest products reflects the construction downturn, according to the report.

The California County Agricultural Commissioner’s Data for 2008, the most recent State report summarizing agricultural production by counties, reports San Mateo County as being the number one producer in the State of indoor potted nursery stock, the number two producer for Brussels sprouts and the number three producer for artichokes.

The report is available online on the San Mateo County website under Departments, Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures, Agricultural Crop Report, 2009 Crop Report.

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