Agriculture at Historic High


The 2011 Marin County Livestock and Agricultural Crop Report shows the highest value ever recorded for all production, at $70,076,404. Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Stefan Parnay said the biggest factors contributing to the increase were higher valued pastureland, an increase in wholesale milk prices and greater survey participation. Overall production value increased 24.7 percent from 2010; milk, the long-standing premier commodity of Marin, accounted for 44.7 percent of the total monetary yield. However, 2011 was the third year that milk values were not at least 50 percent of total production value, following 2009 and 2010. Field crop values increased 74.1 percent from 2010. The value of aquaculture increased 9.3 percent, in step with a 10-year industry-wide expansion. While individual farms fared differently based on their own micro-climates, overall wine grape value decreased 16.7 percent. Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch said that while last year was a challenge for his grapes, “it doesn’t speak to the quality of the wine produced. So far, 2012 is looking to be a better year for wine grapes, although it’s still too early to tell for sure. “One of the classic ironies of wine making,” Mr. Pasternak said, “is that you plant a vineyard and you really won’t know how good the wine is for another ten years. You just make your best shot and hope for the best. Dairyman Joe Mendoza Jr. said that the decision to “go organic” has helped local ranchers at a time when other operations are struggling.