Agriculture becomes Santa Barbara County’s largest industry | Judith Dale – Santa Ynez Valley News

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Right now, hundreds of hundreds Of people stay in cities, and but, Tright here’s nonetheless entry to All Sorts of meals at our native supermarkets. This all Is As a Outcome of Of current agriculture, which has allowed people to evolve from small household teams of hunter-gathers to huge sedentary civilizations. 

Wright hereas California has Discover your self to be the No. 1 agricultural state Inside the nation, producing over $50 billion in farm merchandise, Santa Barbara County ranks Twelfth Inside the state for agricultural manufacturing amongst 48 counties.

Under is A quick historic previous of how we acquired right here:

California agriculture



Jorge Guevara packs up produce from Rancho la Familia On the Orcutt Farmers Market in June 2020. 




In 1890, California’s primary crop was wheat, ranked As a Outcome of the the second-hugest wheat-producing state, following Minnesota. However, by 1914, California’s farm financial system shifted from huge-scale ranching and grain-rising to smaller fruit-cultivation farms. Grapes, citrus, fruits and nuts turned The primary crops.

Between 1859 and 1929, the Quantity of farms elevated by 700%, As a Outcome of of irrigation know-how. The typical measurement of farms fell from 475 acres in 1869 to about 220 acres in 1929.

Cultivated land dropped to A imply of 84 acres per farm — illustrating the distinction between grain farming and fruit/vegetable farming. 

The transcontinental railroad and refrigerated boxcars assisted California export its Vegatables and fruits. (Most people Do not understand that cotton was A critical crop in California till the Nineteen Eighties, when Vegatables and fruits turned extra worthwhile.)

Fruits and greens are labor-intensive crops. By way of The good Melancholy And mud Bowl days Inside the Midwest, many migrant farmworkers acquired here to California looking for work. John Steinbeck’s e-book, “The Grapes of Wrath,” Collectively with Dorothea Lange’s photograph of a migrant mcompletely different taken in Nipomo in 1936, reveals the hardships of migrant labor. Labor factors are nonetheless An monumental Assume about California agriculture.

Right now, The very biggest 5 agricultural merchandise in California are: No. 1, dairy (milk and cream) with an annual worth of $6.56 billion; No. 2, grapes, $5.79 billion; No. 3, almonds, $5.60 billion; No. 4, hashish (authorized gross sales), $3.1 billion; and No. 5, strawberries, $3.1 billion.

Santa Barbara County agriculture

Agricultural historic previous in Santa Barbara County mirrors the historic previous of California.

At first, Santa Barbara County was primarily differland supporting cattle and sheep. Then, Really, grapes and completely different Vegatables and fruits have been developn On the three missions Inside the county. Right now, tright here are Greater than 720,000 acres of agricultural land. Of this, 583,310 is open grazing land, while The relaxation develops fruits, greens and nuts.

The farm sector contributes about $2.8 billion yearly to the Santa Barbara County financial system. Truly, one Santa Barbara County farmer develops enough meals for 155 people.

Based mostly on data, tright here are 159 registered pure farms in Santa Barbara County that develop over 100 completely different merchandise. Farming Inside the county is turning into more and more concentrated, with 95% of The worth of farm merchandise being produced on 16% of the acreage. Fifty-six % of the agricultural lands is used for grazing.

Records additionally current that animal husbandry is reducing Inside the county, placing strain on landowners To transform to completely different makes use of, Similar to residential and enterprise enchancment.

The Santa Maria Valley has The Most very important focus of prime soils and is the quickest rising space for inhabitants. The want for housing and safety of prime farmland Might be a future battle Inside the North County.

Based mostly on The latest County Agriculture Commissioner’s report, The complete worth of agricultural crops in Santa Barbara County is $1.8 billion. Under are the Newer prime-producing crops in Santa Barbara County. 



Strawberries far outdistance The worth of completely different crops in Santa Barbara County’s prime 10 agricultural merchandise, as proven On this chart from the 2020 Crop Report produced by the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.




  1. Strawberries — $727.4 million
  2. Cauliflower — $109.3 million
  3. Broccoli — $104.7 million
  4. Nursery Products — $98.6 million
  5. Wine Grapes — $93.8 million* 
  6. Avocado — $80.2 million
  7. Lettuce, Leaf — $78.1 million
  8. Lettuce, Head — $74.3 million
  9. Celery — $61.7 million
  10. Blackberries — $46.6 million

*Wine grapes, That are typically the second income producer, slipped to fifth As a Outcome of of vines having To get changed and sweltering climate in 2020, forcing an Earlier than ordinary harvest.

Cannabis crop worths Weren’t included Inside the report. Still, It Might have ranked second with An complete crop worth of $194.6 million developn on solely 400 acres.

Santa Barbara County Ought to be Joyful with its agricultural enterprise. The differ of our crops, slicing-edge approaches to water conservation and the transfer to pure farming are On the forefront of farming methods worldwide. Further, California universities like UC Davis and Cal Poly are main agricultural evaluation and education.

So, as you drive alongside our highways, take satisfaction in seeing our prime land being farmed and used To assist feed not solely our residents However the world.

To view the 2020 Santa Barbara County Agriculture Report, go to www.agcommissioner.com. 

Former mayor of Buellton, Judith Dale constructed her profession in education and continues to serve The world people as Santa Barbara County Third District recurrentative to the Library Advisory Board and board member of the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Basis. She Might be reached at [email protected]

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