CROP REPORT. From San Mateo County 2020 Agricultural Crop Report.
“Just as everyone started to get comfortable with the new norm of the pandemic, in August 2020 a lightning storm hit the Santa Cruz mountains and coupled with drought conditions set off one of the worst fire seasons in recent history. The CZU Lightning Complex Fire grew to 86,000 acres between San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. The quaint farming town of Pescadero, surrounded by burning mountains on one side and ocean on the other, was cut off from access to markets via Highway 1 during harvest season.
Expansive and persistent evacuation orders left livestock and crops unattended and in need of water. While the firefighters, Sheriff’s Office and CA Highway Patrol held the line, the CBOs set up evacuation centers for the people of the South Coast.
The volunteers of the Large Animal Evacuation Group tended to and evacuated livestock to the Cow Palace, and Agriculture/Weights & Measures assisted in establishing access for growers to mitigate further crop loss. CalOES and CDFA, with distribution through the local Agricultural Commissioners Offices, allocated N-95s for farms and their employees to protect against wildfire smoke throughout the State. In the end, the total loss in agricultural production, not including timber or structures, was $1.1M.
In San Mateo County alone an estimated 214,000 million board feet equaling $203M worth of timber was lost.”
Karen Ross, Secretary California Department of Food & Agriculture
San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Dave Pine, District 1 Carole Groom, District 2 Don Horsley, District 3 Warren Slocum, District 4 David Canepa, District 5.
It is my pleasure to present the 2020 Annual Crop Report for San Mateo County pursuant to Section 2279 of the California Food and Agricultural Code. The total estimated gross value of San Mateo County agricultural production in 2020 was $93,156,500, a decrease of 28.5% from 2019. It is important to note this gross value does not represent the net profit or loss, as it does not account for the inputs such as labor, packaging, transportation and other production costs.
Vegetables and Floral and Nursery Crops, the two commodity groups that make up 86% of San Mateo County’s production value, posted significant losses. Floral and Nursery Crops reported the largest downturn with a decrease in production valued at $32 million, due in part to market closures early in the pandemic and the closing of a leading wholesale indoor decorative potted plant producer. Vegetables declined by $4.4 million with a corresponding drop in acreage in response to the transition of land out of row crop production and unpredictable consumer demand. We will continue to see fluctuations in Forest Products considering the 2020 CZU fire and changing forest management policies. On the bright side, Livestock and Livestock Products and Apiary posted increases in both to the number of producers in the market and the overall production value.
The challenges of 2020 have made us look at the world differently, but one thing that became abundantly clear is that a stable food supply and the employees that support it are critical to our national security. Unlike other industries, agricultural workers were not able to work at home or inside where air was filtered from wildfire particles. This left these critical industries competing for protective equipment with other frontline essential workers. As we look to the future, we will have to collectively and continually innovate to protect the limited resources essential to the agricultural economy; land, air, water, and people.
I wish to express my gratitude to the agricultural community for sharing their business information, for without their contributions this report would not be possible. Special recognition goes to my staff Kelly Mayer, Jenny Gossett, and Michael Wong for their dedication, creativity, and attention to detail in compiling this report.
Koren J. Widdel
Agricultural Commissioner Sealer of Weights and Measures