HALF MOON BAY, Calif. – Are people feeling better about the local economy? Happier in general?
Both are tough to measure. But consider that the market value of roses, snapdragons and other cut flowers grown in San Mateo County grew by nearly 9 percent in 2012.
From lavender to lilies, orchids to Poinsettias, flowering plants and cut flowers increased in total market value in 2012 over 2011, according to the newly released San Mateo County Agricultural Crop Report.
“Flower sales may not be key economic indicators as defined by the Federal Reserve, but it seems pretty safe to say that when flower sales are up, people are feeling pretty happy in general,” said Don Horsley, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, which accepted the report today. Read the staff report.
Horsley’s district includes San Mateo County’s coastal farmlands that account for the vast majority of the County’s $140 million in agricultural production in 2012. That represents a 2.2 percent overall increase from 2011.
The Crop Report is a treasure trove of information for foodies in general and locavores – those interested in eating food grown or harvested locally and not shipped long distances – in particular.
Like leeks? San Mateo County farmers harvested 1,597 tons in 2012, down from 1,720 tons the prior year, however. Snap peas, fava beans and peas are all grown locally, as are wine grapes and peas. (For a list of certified farmers markets where local produce is often featured, visit www.smcgov.org/agwm)
While San Mateo County today is better known for biotech than brussels sprouts, the latter alone accounted for $9.1 million in sales value in 2012, a 2.8 percent increase from 2011.
With the exception of forest products, product values were up for all commodity categories in 2012.
“That’s the good news. Yet most gains were modest, and many agricultural producers in San Mateo County continue to struggle. This region is an expensive place to do business and though agriculture is an important economic component, it is not the leading economic driver so it will take a bit longer for local agriculture to benefit from the recovery,” said Fred Crowder, the County’s Agricultural Commissioner.
Indoor floral and nursery crops posted the greatest increase in dollar value, with $1.6 million in additional value, for a total value of $92,176,000 or an increase of 1.8 percent. Outdoor floral and nursery crops had the second highest increase in dollar value with $778,000 in additional value which is a 3.7 percent increase over the previous year.
Though prices were down on vegetable crops, San Mateo County favorites – artichokes and brussels sprouts increased in overall value by 4.4 percent on the strength of additional production. The overall value on the pumpkin crop increased by 16 percent primarily because of higher prices as both acreage planted and crop yield was down.
San Mateo County’s cattle industry is featured on the cover of this year’s crop report. It is a less conspicuous segment of our agricultural industry but it provides diversity and value to the San Mateo agricultural production community, posting a total value of $2,459,000, a 6.4 percent increase, largely due to a higher dollar value per pound.
Read the report and compare it to past years.
How does San Mateo County agriculture rank against other counties in the state? Based on data from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, San Mateo County ranked 36 out of 58 counties in overall agricultural production value in 2011, the latest year that rankings are available.
The top individual commodities produced by San Mateo County ranked as follows:
No. 1 Nursery plants potted unspecified, $79 million (to No. 2 Monterey at $48 million)
No. 2 Flowers, foliage, cut, all, $5.5 million (to No. 1 San Diego at $57 million)
No. 2 Brussels sprouts, $8.8 million (to No. 1 Santa Cruz at $9.8 million)
No. 2 Leeks, $1.5 million (to No. 1 Monterey at $3.9 million)