Ag Today June 20, 2017

Agriculture a key player in north state economy, study shows

By Steve Schoonover, Chico Enterprise-Record

POSTED: 06/19/17, 4:08 PM PDT | UPDATED: 10 HRS AGO

Chico >> A new study confirms that agriculture is a much bigger player in the economy of northeastern California than of the state as a whole.

The study by Chico State University agriculture Professor Eric Houk found that 18.9 percent of the jobs in Chico State’s 13-county service area were ag-related, compared with 7.6 percent statewide.

About 18 cents of every dollar of economic value created in the area comes from ag, compared to 6.7 cents statewide.

The 13 counties stretch from Yuba, Sutter and Colusa north and east to Oregon and Nevada. The data is from 2015.

The district includes two different ag-economy bases which Houk defines as valley-dominant and mountain-dominant. The valley ag economy is driven by almonds, walnuts and rice. In the mountains, it’s timber, strawberry plants and cattle.

The valley ag economy is much larger, about $3.48 billion, compared to $678 million in the mountains. Colusa is the top producing county at about $902 million, followed by Butte at $774 million and Glenn at $749 million.

Mountain farms are about twice as large, averaging 658 acres to 333 acres in the valley. Butte County farms were even smaller, averaging 185 to 250 acres.

Houk’s study found the value of the area’s ag production had declined in 2015 since its high point the previous year, an 8.6 percent drop he attributed to falling commodity prices. It’s still 62 percent above the 2006 total.