Agriculture remains one of the most important economic bases of the NSJV, which is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country and a critical part of the state’s economy and the nation’s food supply. Agricultural production generates revenue and jobs in related industries such as food processing, transportation, equipment sales, and other vertically integrated production processes. Many of the top sectors in the NSJV such as manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing are critically integrated with the agricultural sector.

The total dollar value of crops produced in each county was obtained from the County Crop Report of each NSJV county.

This graph shows the dollar value (in millions) of agricultural production in each of the three NSJV counties. Every year between 2011 and 2014 was a record year for agricultural production in the NSJV. While the economic recovery has remained slow in many of the industries in the NSJV, the value of agricultural production grew by almost 41% to peak at $12.1 billion in 2014. Much of this had to do with continually rising prices in the products which the NSJV has a competitive advantage in, including almonds, milk, and walnuts.

The value of agricultural production decreased sharply between 2015 and 2014. The drop in production value, over 15%, erased the gains seen in 2014 and totaled $1.8 billion. While the drought likely contributed to this fall in production value, the most significant factor is the decrease in agricultural commodity prices from record levels in 2014 after several years of strong gains.

NSJV Top 10 Commodities (2015)

Commodity Value
Almonds $2,282
Milk $1,914
Cattle & Calves $859
Chickens $730
Vegetables $522
Walnuts $514
Grapes $444
Tomatoes $365
Silage, Corn $354
Nursery Products $331

Merced Top 10 Commodities (2015)

Commodity Value
Milk $895
Almonds $552
Cattle & Calves $364
Chickens $357
Sweet Potatoes $194
Tomatoes $161
Silage, Corn $141
Eggs $123
Cotton $100
All Nursery Products $68

San Joaquin County Top 10 Commodities (2016)

Commodity Value
Grapes $426
Milk $362
Almonds $349
Walnuts $274
Cattle and Calves $106
Tomatoes $104
Cherries $59
Hay $49
Potatoes $48
Melons $46

Stanislaus Top 10 Commodities (2016)

Commodity Value
Almonds $931
Milk $612
Chicken $295
Cattle and Calves $246
Nursery Fruit & Nut Trees and Vines $163
Walnuts $135
Silage $118
Turkey $70
Peaches $68
Pollination $65

The largest commodities in terms of production value for each county were obtained from the County Crop Report for each of the NSJV counties. The value of each county’s crop production was then summed to obtain the value for the NSJV.

These tables show the top ten commodities by production value for the three component counties, and the NSJV. Almonds and milk are the top two commodities produced in the NSJV by more than $1 billion per year. In fact, the NSJV produced approximately 42% of California’s almonds and 30% of California’s milk in 2015. Almonds and milk are also the top two commodities in each of the three NSJV counties. Cattle and calves, and eggs are also top commodities in each of the NSJV counties.

Data for this indicator was obtained from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), table CA45. The NSJV total was obtained by summing the revenues and expenses of the three component counties.

This graph shows total revenue, expenses and net income for farmers in the NSJV. Farm revenue has increased each year since 2009, driven by increases in commodity prices. Commodity prices peaked in 2014, shown in this graph as the 19.5% increase in revenue and the 28.5% increase in net income between 2013 and 2014. In 2012 expenses increased at a faster pace than revenues leading to the decrease in net income despite the continued increase in revenues. Unfortunately data for 2015 is not yet available for farm income as it is for the value of agricultural production. It will be interesting to see how the observed downturn in agricultural production value impacts net income trends.

Farm wage trends

Data for this indicator was obtained from both the California Employment Development Department (EDD), and the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Average weekly pay was obtained from the EDD, while total employment was obtained from QCEW. Weekly pay was then multiplied by employment, then by 52 to obtain total annual farm wages.

Mean farm wage trend (weekly)

Data for this indicator was obtained from the California Employment Development Department (EDD).

Farm Wage Trend

This graph shows the total value of farm wages paid to NSJV farm workers. With the exception of a slight decrease in total farm wages in 2010, farm wages have increased each year from 2005 to 2015. The total increase during this time period was approximately 77.5%. Farm wages increased over 10% between 2014 and 2015 alone. This increase is attributable to two factors. First the agriculture sector added almost 7,000 jobs during this time period, and since this graph shows aggregate wages this would increase total wages even if workers received no pay increase. Second, recent increases in the state minimum wage, as well as pushes in Sacramento to increase farmworker wages have helped push up total farm wages.

Mean Farm Wage Trend

This graph shows the average weekly pay for farmworkers in the NSJV. While aggregate farm wages increased by 77.5% between 2005 and 2015, mean weekly farm wages increased only 46%. This lends evidence to the notion that aggregate farm wages increased partially because of an increase in total employment. The $602 per week average wage rate for farm workers includes all occupations within the agriculture sector. This means high wage workers such as managers, foremen, and equipment operators. Therefore many manual laborers earn significantly less than that. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that much of this increase in farm wages is attributable to these higher wage occupations.